Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors, a weekly Sunday hop where writers share 8 sentences from a book or WIP. I’m now sharing from Chapter 81, “A Friend Is a Friend,” of my WIP, Journey Through a Dark Forest. It’s the second day of the brutal Battle of Saipan in mid-June 1944, and lifelong best friends Patya Siyanchuk and Rodya Duranichev are serving with the 2nd Regiment of the 6th Marines.
Both Rodya and Patya have earned Purple Hearts for their respective woundings this morning; Rodya has been stabbed in the right shoulder by a bayonet, and Patya took a rifle grenade in his right arm. Before each fell unconscious, though, they managed to take out a number of enemies. Rodya has just regained consciousness aboard one of the Navy’s ships off the Saipan coast.
Theotokos of Vladimir, called Our Lady of Vyshhorod by the Ukrainians, the ikon given to Patya by his priest before he left for boot camp.
He blinks to adjust himself to the strange new surroundings, and sees Pátya on a nearby bed, several IVs attached to both his arms and a large, bulky bandage wrapped around what remains of his right arm. Theotokos of Vladímir is on Pátya’s nightstand, and Ródya’s nightstand contains Christ Pantokrator, the three little cats, a family picture, and the bookmark-looking amulet. Their rucksacks are on their beds. In the distance, he can hear the dull thudding of explosions.
“Where am I?”
The nurse looks at his dogtags. “You’ll have to pronounce your name for me, Corporal. You and your friend have names I’ve never encountered before.”
Christ Pantokrator, the ikon which Rodya got from his priest before leaving for boot camp. This depiction of Jesus is a very popular subject for Eastern Orthodox ikons.
The other amulets on Rodya’s nightstand are souvenirs he picked up from a dead Japanese on Tarawa in November 1943—three beckoning cats (white, red, and black) and an omamori, the bookmark-looking object. At this point, he doesn’t know what any of them signify. From the dead soldier at Tarawa, he also took a family photograph and a letter written in Japanese. Rodya’s souvenirs are meant to humanize the other side for one brief moment. No matter how barbaric many Japanese combatants were, they weren’t much different from the American combatants where it really mattered.