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Joe sighed as he closed his eyes, as though remembering something mildly unpleasant.

“What happened?” Maggie asked, keeping her voice low. She didn’t want the story to end, but as she laid her hands atop her knees she couldn’t help but leaning forward just a bit. Her interest in the story seemed almost perverse in this moment, but she still wanted to know.

“Joe saved me, I didn’t save him, at least not right away. He got me to safety when my legs were stuck beneath a crate that had fallen on me. Once I was safe and on my way to the lifeboat though he kept going back, again and again, but each time he only managed to find on or two of our fellow soldiers. The rest….”

“Oh, Mr. Smith you don’t have to-“

“Yes,” he said, raising one hand as he looked squarely at her, “Yes I do. I started the story and I’m going to finish it. Don’t worry young lady,” he said with a sad grin, “Your need to know is just as strong as my need to tell.”

Maggie smiled, eliciting a similar gesture from Joe as he went on.

(to be concluded)

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