1: Seargent Ward: A Christmas Miracle

Sergeant. Spell check the title.

Nestled in the foot hills of the Bavarian Alps is a little not very well known [awkward] US [U.S.] military installation called Hohenfels. There, abandoned German villages left since World War II now have large trees growing through their ruins while in the surrounding valleys and mingled among the crumbling structures US, and coalition forces train together to prep [prepare] for their turn in the middle east. [Middle East]

Teah was excited to move to Hohenfels with her husband, Jade. [This is an unusual name. I’d recommend using one easily recognized as a man’s name—like, Jaden.] one summer. She had watched her husband He had secured a nice nondeployable job as observation and control for the training forces. The quaint village with the pitched roofs and the heavy timber with stucco was picturesque to say the least and neither Teah nor Jade could wish for anything more.

At the end of a Bavarian summer, Teah, and Jade somewhere at the end of a Bavarian summer were blessed with a pregnancy. While Jade went to work each day Teah worked on organizing her home, getting baby clothes, crib, and toys ready for the anticipated arrival.

“Looks like the end of April or first of May,” the doctor said. Jade put his arm around Teah. She looked so beautiful, his wife, a mother, the mother of his children. [repetitive]

Jade moved into full swing with his unit that fall. Units were on the move and were constantly transforming which kept the young Sergeant busy for most days. Jade had early mornings and late nights. Night operations in the training aria often had several iterations with several [drop one of the “severals”] platoons and squad size elements moving through urban training sights. [a lot of telling; show us a few scenes instead]

Thanksgiving came, accompanied with a four day weekend. On the last day of that break, Jade and Teah spent the day getting ready for their favorite holiday; Christmas.

[Start your story here. Weave in a few of the facts from above.]
Excitement and love adorned the small German cottage as the two Jade and Teah decorated for Christmas. Teah was up on a step ladder pinning up the garland she had recently purchased from the Post Exchange, when Jade came through the door, and said, “I am going to need more fasteners… now, Teah you know you shouldn’t be climbing around on things.” Teah laughed and said, “Jade, I am pregnant not incapacitated. Plus this is my favorite holiday.”

Jade walked up to the ladder and grabbed Teah and she let out a scream of surprise as she fell back into his arms. Jade cradled her and kissed her forehead and lips. Jade was a romantic, the type of man that nauseated most men, but Teah adored him, and they were both in love.

That night after decorating, Jade sighed as he sat down on a thirty dollar Goodwill couch and Teah followed suit. She curled up next to Jade and he looked into her eyes and Christmas lights shimmered in the deep blue sea that surrounded lonely islands in her eyes as she smiled. Jade wrapped his arm around Teah and placed it on their unborn child. “This will be the best Christmas ever.” Jade said.

December came with a visit from winter’s old man and christened the earth with a thick blanket of powder. Training for Jade’s unit had slowed somewhat, and by mid month they were down to half days as part of the unit started block leave.

Jade loved spending the afternoons and the weekends with Teah. Whether it was a road trip to Prague, or lazy afternoons watching through the living room window, frail flakes of snow complete their journey to the ground, all while sitting in the amber, red and green quiet.

When things go too good for too long we ignorantly think we have beat opposition, and that somehow trials forgot us. It is in the panorama of life, we in retrospect realize, life’s most harrowing changes graced our mortality at the close of those vistas.

Coming to work one day Jade’s platoon sergeant said “SGT Kempton I need to see you in my office.” Jade stood up from his desk in the hanger and went to see his Platoon sergeant. [repetitive]

“SGT Kempton,” said Sergeant first class Gambill, “1st armor division is deploying and as you know none of us are safe.”

[new paragraph with each new speaker] Jade cut off SFC Gambill and said, “Well, you didn’t call me into your office to tell me you are deploying with the 1st Armor, so how much time do I have?”

[new paragraph with each new speaker] “They want you over in Baumholder Germany by the 23rd of December and the unit is leaving for Afghanistan on the first.” Said SFC Gambill. [correct punctuation: “…the first,” said SFC Gambill.]

That afternoon Jade left his car parked at the hanger and walked the four miles to his village. Humid crystals of ice clung to Jade’s black fleece turning it to match the frosted backdrop on the lonely highway. Jade did not feel the cold. How could he?

That afternoon Teah sat on the couch as Jade expounded on the details of his Christmas he was going to spend in barracks on the west side of Germany before his deployment to the Middle East for the next year. After he got done explaining he stood with straight arms and fists clenched in his pockets.

“So that’s it, you are going away.” Teah said. “I have less than ten days.” Jade added. “Maybe you can fight this?” Teah suggested. “Fight what?” Jade said, “This is coming from United States Army European command. This is above my unit I don’t have a choice.”

That week the cold humid air put enough moisture on the snow to make it disappear. Teah sat in her bed awake as Jade left early on a Friday morning. She looked out the window to the last summer’s dead lilacs standing naked against grey horizon and brown fallow. She had a tear in her eye because she started bleeding the night before, but did not have the heart to tell Jade.

Jade was ignorant for only a short time, because it was he who rushed his sweetheart to the University Hospital in Regensburg.

It was four days before Jade had to get on a bus leaving for West Germany then off to War, but he was not home. Jade was in a German hospital holding Teah’s hand as she winced in pain. Her body was rejecting the baby and it was not far enough along to save. Jade would not wish that pain on his worst enemy, yet his best friend lie in agony.

When they released Teah from the hospital Jade and Teah had one night. Teah sat in Jade’s strong arms one last time, hours before he got on the bus. Jade watched with her for a time then she slept. He got up and kissed Teah’s forehead and walked out to the road and met SFC Gambill.

Jade watched the black forest rush by on the autobahn as he stared out his window on the bus. The Northern parts of Germany were often bitter and cold without snow to justify its bite, and the grey sky was without silver lining.

The next morning Jade woke up in his barracks room alone and empty. He had deployed before but never had he felt so dark and helpless.

At the first formation of the day Jade watched some of the single soldiers’ horse around and talk of their wild weekends. A fairly dark skinned E6 walked up to Jade and said, “Hi I’m Sergeant Williams, so who are you?” Jade said, “I am your new medic. I got in last night.” “Oh no, we were expecting you but… hold that thought.”

“Fall in,” a First Sergeant said with a commanding voice. Jade stood by SSG Williams and the First Sergeant took the report from the platoon sergeants.

After the formation the squad leader went to the first sergeant and said “Here is our extra. I will get him on the bus today top.” “Extra?” Jade thought. “Isn’t that just precious,” said the first sergeant, “A little Christmas miracle in our own ranks. You can thank that other medic SGT Ward who just showed up out of the blue. Now get out of my face.”

The squad leader pulled his car up and said, “Common we need to get you a bus home.” Jade said where is SGT Ward? I have to see him.” Staff Sergeant Williams said, “You will miss your bus.” “I have to see him.” Jade said more determined than before.

Somebody put their hand on Jade’s shoulder. Jade turned and saw him. His name was Ward he was a sergeant just like Jade. He said to Jade, “Go home Jade, your wife needs you.” “Where did you come from?” Jade asked. “It does not matter. My higher told me you needed to be with your family.”Sergeant Ward smiled turned and disappeared into a sea of uniforms. [needs some foreshadowing here]

Teah sat on Christmas Eve, plucking peddles petals from blossoms on holly, then letting them fall to the floor. Too sick, to stand yet in too much pain to sleep, she wept in the beautifully decorated living room. The early dim evening fled from the dark village. Teah went to turn off the colorful lights her and Jade had put up. Then she stopped.

A knock on the door startled Teah. She went to the door and saw a masculine shape behind the amber glass. Jade smiled as she opened the door Teah recognized her husband and leapt into his arms. Large flakes of snow fell, as Jade spun Teah around in her bath robe on the frozen grass.

The next day the sun came out and it was shining bright on heavy snow that blanketed the country side the night before. “It’s Christmas,” Teah whispered in her husband’s ear. He smiled and kissed Teah.

Later that day they sat and opened presents from family back in the states, which had been placed under the tree.

“And this one is from your Mom,” Teah said. Jade opened the brown paper and there was a note from his mom along with a binder.

Dear Jade, Here is a collection of Journals from your grandfather who died in the service. Included is his story of World War II and a picture, enjoy. Love, Mom

Jade, Opened the binder then he stopped. Teah never before seen Jade cry but his eyes watered some as he picked up the photo and said, “Teah, this is Sergeant Ward.”

Critique: Work on spelling, sentence structure and grammar. Each new speaker gets it’s own paragraph; some of your dialog tags are awkward and interfere with the story. Work on your dialog—differentiate the voices. Using third person is fine, but it’s too distant and you hop heads a few times. We need a little more characterization, more personality; more sense of place and sensory-based images. You spend a little too much time on things that don’t add to the story (like the beginning) and not enough in other areas (like losing the baby). The story has too much “telling”—we need more showing, action.

What I liked best: The twist at the end. I like those goose-bumpy things.

Publication ready: No. The basic concept/idea is fine, but the delivery doesn’t do it justice. Keep working on it.

Author: LDS Publisher

I am an anonymous blogger who works in the LDS publishing industry. I blog about topics that help authors seeking publication and about published fiction by LDS authors.

7 thoughts on “1: Seargent Ward: A Christmas Miracle”

  1. I agree, obviously this author has some military experience and a nack for creating vivid images in the mind of the reader.

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