Whilst the men and able bodied were away fighting, those left behind faced a daily struggle to keep up a semblance of normal life,
The neighbours all ‘pulled together’ and ‘mucked in’ as Harold would have put it.
Eliza enjoyed her independence and Joanie found an inner strength, and knew that Reg would be proud of her.
Ruby? Well they all knew about Ruby!
Frances? Increasingly fragile and a worry to them all. Increasingly self isolating as one year of Joseph’s absence led into another she sometimes wondered if she was losing touch with reality.
Lizzie, elderly and wise, brought comfort by reading tea leaves and gazing into her crystal ball, ” Kindness and a cup of tea and a bit of hope, that’s all I offer, it works wonders”
A WEEK IN TIME – A STORY WITH A HAPPY ENDING
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About the Author
Betty Rose was born in Coventry and is the youngest of Six children. She grew up in the 50s and 60s when Coventry’s engineering and car manufacturing was booming.
She worked as a Registered Mental Health Nurse until her retirement, 2 years ago.
She still lives in Coventry with her husband and Milly the dog.
“I was born in 1951 and I grew up in a hardworking, earthy neighbourhood amongst many who had lived through WW2 and who shared their experiences with sadness and humour.
I’m a Coventry kid, always will be.”
So, Frances stared intently into her teacup. She turned it to the left and the right. She looked down into the bottom, at the side for not too distant events and at the rim for the present. She made a wish, asking that the tea leaves would show her true events and her destiny. Frances saw lines and dots but no significant shapes or symbols that she could identify. She saw nothing that gave her hope, nothing that would lift her heart or her energy. All she could make out were dots travelling from the base of the cup to the rim. She thought back to some of Lizzie’s teachings and concentrated. What did they mean? A journey maybe? Who’s journey then? Mine? She pondered! As much as she wished she didn’t see any birds or hearts, not this time.
Placing the cup and saucer down beside her she closed her eyes. Midnight purred and snuggled in closer moving onto her lap. Frances sighed, “I’ll just have forty winks, I’m so weary and my feet are absolutely throbbing after standing at that machine all day puss.” Frances’ head fell forward and Midnight hopped down and padded over to the corner of the darkened room, staring at the skirting board with keen interest.
Glenn Miller and his band were playing Moonlight Serenade and Frances and Joseph were moving around the hall amongst the jostling of other couples. Frances felt that she was floating in his arms as the band with their clarinets and trumpets played their smooth sophisticated melodies. Joseph gazed down into her face and their eyes locked and their lips were almost touching. The band changed the tune to a slow seductive Begin the Beguine by Arty Shaw and Joseph coiled a lock of her long black silky hair around his fingers and they danced and swayed together. Joseph hummed softly and kissed the back of her neck and buried his face into her hair. The music changed again to Sentimental Journey and Frances whispered: “Let’s go Home”. The energy between them was vibrant and when Joseph brushed his hand down the smoothness of her dress as it clung to her thigh Frances caught her breath. Joseph squeezed her hand and they pushed their way through the many couples as the music changed to a lively ‘Minnie’s in the Money’ by Benny Goodman. The dancers were pulling and pushing and twirling in the jive and as the Swing got into action nimble feet danced to the rhythm and the pounding of the piano. Petticoats and skirts twirled and females were flung over their partners’ shoulder and through their uniformed legs. Faces were red, the band were loud and for now the crowds were able to forget everything but the excitement and love and laughter that filled the dance room.
This was the last night of Joseph’s leave and normally the pair would be stamping and jumping along with the rest to the latest music and the dances introduced by the American G I’s But tonight it was different. Joseph’s eyes were on his wife and his brown eyes smouldered. Pushing their way through they were soon out of the heat and the noise and they clung onto each other tightly, laughing. Suddenly stinging icy cold rain slammed against Frances’s face and the cold harsh wind made her catch her breath.
“Frances wake up “.
She woke to the scream of the sirens. The top window was slightly ajar and cold raindrops were pouring through the gap and running down her face. The room was in darkness from the blackness inside and the blackness outside. There was a new moon and very little light.
Frances was shivering. Who called her? She and Midnight were alone. As the sirens screamed out their warning she grabbed for the crouching cat but he dashed away into the hall and up the stairs.