Sally reached for the wine glass and took another drink. Looking back at the letter, she read it for a second time,
“……………….I watched for your train, and the next. I waited under the clock for 3 hours before I realised you were not coming. Why Julia? Why let me hope, and then take it away as you did before? I explained my search was for answers, not recriminations. I have no wish to cause you pain but I fear my own sanity relies on your honesty……………….”
If Julia was his mother, why didn’t she go, how could she leave him standing there, waiting? Three hours watching trains come in, then go out, people rushing past, never stopping. The first letter was so formal, but this one seemed more personal, there was pain in his words, she could feel it. Although they were strangers Sally felt strangely drawn to their story. She sat back, closing her eyes, picturing the woman who never arrived.
May 1941 –
The deafening sound of the roof collapsing drowned out the screams from the others in the shelter. A ball of fire whooshed upwards as concrete and tiles rained down on the crowd. Julia stayed knelt against the wall, her eyes tightly shut and her hands pressed hard against her ears. The noise was painful.
Coughing and brushing debris and what else from her hair, she looked up to find two men stood near. Their mouths were moving but she couldn’t hear what they were saying. They came closer, looking directly at her, their mouths still moving but their voices couldn’t penetrate the deafness in her ears. She groped unsteadily behind her trying to re-orientate herself in the darkness. A third man came forward, past the other two and put an arm around her waist, lifting her up, away from the wall.
The noise in her ears started to fade and she heard him call out to the other two men. “We gotta get outta here Mick, grab the bags and meet me back at Joes” The other two guys nodded, darted a look at each other and gestured to Julia. “She’s hurt, I’ll just make sure the A.R.P’s get her, I’ll catch you up” The tone of his voice enough to get the other two moving and climbing over debris a second later, although she noticed a look between the two that suddenly added to her fear.
Lifting her, he half dragged, half propelled her over the scattered brick work and out into the street. Julia looked up at the darkened sky, angry and red above the fires blazing around them. There was a shroud of what looked like pink smoke, and now and again through a hole in the pink veil an absurdly, reassuring evening star. Her mind finally caught back up to speed. She looked at the dark haired man at her side, and swept her body quickly away from his hold. “Thank you, but I’m fine now, you can remove your arm from my waist” she raised her eyebrow expectantly, waiting for him to immediately release her. He didn’t.
His eyes, blacker than any she’d ever seen before, seemed wide with indignation, also humour she thought. He was laughing at her, she knew it, and she could feel it. She looked at him, about to repute him, but what could she say “I don’t like the tone of your eyes” for god sake the raid had left her demented. Then he smiled, a smile so incredible that her legs went weak and she almost swooned right back to him. He pulled her close, twisting a loose curl between his fingers; he brushed his lips over her ear and whispered ……
Come back next time to see what he said…………………………..