A short story by M. L. E. Brown
He lifts his nose out from under the scratchy blanket. If he can just get there, he will never complain about the cold at home again. He doesn’t want to be awake. Back within the dream, a warm breeze still ripples the kawakawa bushes in his parents’ garden. His mother is inside making tea from the leaves – an old Māori remedy – as she always does whenever any of them have aches or fevers. She adds mint and then steeps the brew a long time before serving it with honey and lemon …
The tent smells of carbolic, starch, and eucalyptus oil. He must be getting better. It’s been days since he could smell anything. Outside, in the distance, he can hear the band playing “Abide With Me”. It is April 25th. Has it really been three years since those terrible landings? He wants to attend the Remembrance Service. But he can’t even get up.
All the beds in this hastily built isolation ward are full. Spanish Flu starts off as a fever and turns into pneumonia fast. Having got all the way from Gallipoli to Bapaume without a scratch, it never occurred to him he might be felled by a ruddy virus.