Note and Disclaimer: Of course, I don't own M*A*S*H. This is the fourth story in a new series titled "By the Graveside". Enjoy!
She had visited this graveside so many times since she was discharged two years ago. This day was no different. Every six months or so, when she was allowed a few days off from her hospital job, she would drive from her home in Chicago to Bloomington. She would park the car out of sight, underneath some trees near the entranceway, and trek over the huge hill to the military section of the cemetery. There, she would sit cross-legged before the grave.
For the dejected mistress, this was always a difficult task. She had so many hopes with this relationship. Yet, all of it was unreal once Korea and the war were behind her. It was an entirely different matter over there. Henry Blake was the picture of perfection. While Painless Pole had been a snooze and full of drama (especially after his staged suicide), the colonel was more of a man – mature, strong and handsome. Granted, he was spineless, but that did not matter to the mistress.
Of course, there were troubles with the affair. She knew that he was married and had children. While their mutual agreement had been to not talk of them, she still found reminders of a wife and three children everywhere. From the office to the colonel's tent, Henry Blake still showed his love and affection for the family he left behind. The mistress always felt cast aside, no matter how much attention she received, and would smile and nod each time Henry petted her.
Not to mention, there were Regular Army sticklers who were always bothered her or the occasional side dish that Henry indulged in. Major Margaret Houlihan came to mind. The head nurse was always harassing the mistress about her fraternization, although there was nothing in the regulations about it (except for adultery, but Major Houlihan would be a hypocrite if she tried reporting that). There was also that child, Nancy Sue Parker, who almost took the mistress' place, had somebody not reminded Henry that he had a wife and children at home.
A wife and children at home…
The mistress refrained from screaming. There were so many things wrong with being with Henry. She was the victim of the occasional trinket and fishing trip. The girls always made fun of her with going out with an older man. And then, there was their jealousy when they had no dates.
God, this wasn't supposed to happen. She was supposed to be chosen as Henry's only woman, not that blonde, dumpy woman with those brats across town. Instead, she was only a twinkle in the stars of the past, a memory in the twilight world that did not seem real anymore. She was only the woman that this dead man cherished for a short year or so.
Even so, that wasn't anything to brag about. She retained nothing from the affair except bitterness and rage…
And there was always the sorrow. The mistress genuinely loved Henry. She had some fond recollections of those carefree days. There were the gentle caresses, whispered promises and the protection from all harm. There were also the moments of pride, where she could strut around the nurses' tent and proudly say how loved she was.
Then, it was all over. When Henry was discharged, she lost it all. Major Houlihan was on her case once more. It was worse when it was announced later that day that Henry had been killed over the Sea of Japan. The mistress was speechless, numbed by this new pain.
But of course, nobody helped her through her angst. That was what made it all the more maddening. Everyone was so concerned about the war widow back home that they did not consider the woman who cared for Henry in his time of need. Lorraine Blake was no help to Henry when he was in Korea.
Time only sharpened these feelings of anger. Even after her transfer, the mistress still mulled over those wonderful months, replaying each blissful incident, and pictured the single mother at home with those children. She did not feel any obligation to them, nor did she pity them or feel that she had to express any form of condolences. She was sure that Lorraine Blake had enough support and sympathy to last her the rest of her days.
The mistress had to cope on her own. Her next station after the 4077th, before going home to Chicago, was a godsend, but it was also hell. The 121st Evac was typically the last stop for any personnel before heading stateside and also the best step to a civilian career if the colonel liked someone enough. The mistress had to suck up enough to this commanding officer just to get a commendation for her work. It was just enough to forget Henry Blake and the 4077th with the amount of work she put in.
Leslie "Dish" Scorch grabbed some soil next to the planted flowers and allowed the silky dirt to cascade through her fingers. She repeated this motion many times before patting the pile down, neatening the area. She stood up, grabbing her pocketed car keys and walking back to her car.
She vowed to never come back. Leslie could not stand having to experience this deep resentment time and again. She was lucky to have a job and apartment on her own. What did she need Henry for?
Oh, but she will return. In this world, she could face her worst demons and berate Henry all she wanted. It was the only way she could allow this heartache to pass.