This is the thirtieth part of a fiction serial, in 753 words.
By the end of the summer, Albert was finding life difficult on the Heavy Rescue unit. Although the bombing was no longer as bad as it had been, there were still enough raids to deal with, and he wasn’t getting any younger. Vivian was almost thirty-four, and starting to look it. Vera thought her parents had never looked so old and tired, but never mentioned it of course. After a chat with his wife, Albert changed his role in the Civil Defence to become an air-raid warden. No more digging in the rubble, now he would just be just checking that people were not showing lights in the blackout, and directing them to the nearest shelters if there was an attack. Because the raids were so far and few between by then, Albert was lokking better in no time, and obviously a lot less stressed.
A letter from Teddy told them he was doing well on his new battleship, but he still couldn’t say which one it was, and where he was in the world. Vera hoped he wasn’t in the Far East, as there had been some reports of ships being sunk by the japanese out there. The family were getting used to the rationing, using vegetables to make pie fillings, as well as adjusting to the substitues for sugar. At least half of the meat from the rabbits had to be used for trading. Albert got his tobacco, and Vera and Elsie were able to get some second-hand clothes that were quite high class. Nobody cared much aboout the Black Market any longer. If you didn’t take advantage of it, you went without.
However, Albert drew the line when he was offered tins of corned beef marked for use by the army. He didn’t want any part of taking food that was intended for the fighting men.
Then came the big news of a huge invasion of Sicily. Albert nodded as he heard the announcer on the radio. “If we can get into Italy, that’s them out the war. That Mussolini will soon be packing up and leaving, mark my words”. His pronouncements always made Vera smile. He had never been in the army, but talked like he knew exactly what the generals were planning.
Two letters came from Les. One was written in the early summer, and the other a month later. He was a lot better off now the weather had warmed up, he told her. Some of the prisoners had been moved, and been replaced by some blokes captured in North Africa the previous year. There were rumours that the camp might close, though that could mean them being moved deeper into Germany. In the second letter, Les got all romantic, talking about how much he missed her, and how he couldn’t wait to see her again one day. Vera loved to read those parts, and they made her feel all warm inside. She went round to the Reid’s house to tell them his news. Mrs Reid welcomed her warmly, but Janet was out, and Mr Reid was at the pub. Janet’s mum wanted to ask her what she knew about Janet and Pauline, but she just said her and Janet didn’t go around together so much now.
On Sunday, Viv came to tell them that she had asked for the boys to come back from Wales. If necessary, she would travel there by train and fetch them. She had written a thank you letter to Mrs Davies, explaining that she needed them at home now, and that Roy had insisted on them being back in London now the bombing wasn’t so bad. Elsie wasn’t so sure it was a good idea, but didn’t interfere. Her daughter was a married woman, and what she did was up to her. Albert gave her half of a rabbit to take back for Roy’s mum to cook for them, and Elsie gave her one of the tins of jam they had stored.
That evening, Elsie and Vera started to take in some of their clothes. They had both lost a fair bit of weight in the past year, and a lot of their stuff was loose on them. Vera sat carefully unpicking the seams, and Elsie folded them in and sewed them. Albert had gone to the pub to meet up with some of his mates on the darts team. As they chatted and worked on the clothes, Vera was thinking how nice it was.
Almost like before the war.