This is the thirty-third part of a fiction serial, in 735 words.
After those first encounters with the new flying bombs, they became a daily terror. Almost one hundred a day fell on London, mostly in the southern suburbs. The random nature of their arrival caused a lot of casualties too, and the dock areas were not spared. One afternoon, Vera was out in the garden feeding the rabbits, and heard the noise of one overhead. It spluttered and popped, as if the engine was going to stop. That was the dangerous time, according to her dad. Once the engine ran out of fuel, the bomb would just fall out of the sky. Turning around, Vera saw the thing, like a small black aircraft, heading south of where she was. At that distance, it looked almost like a toy. It made some spluttering noises again, and then there was silence.
Moments later she heard the explosion, and saw the smoke rising a couple of miles away. Her dad ran out of the house when he heard the bang, and she pointed over the back wall. “Look, dad. It hit in Peckham, I reckon”. People started to call them ‘Doodlebugs’, though Vera never found out why. For many Londoners, it was worse than the relentless bombing years earlier, as at least you knew when the bombers were coming, and when they had left. The new doodlebugs were unnerving, and there was something about that sound they made that gave you a chill up your spine. Evacuation started up again, and so many people were geting out of the city, they had to do overtime at the jam factory to make up for the absences. Viv was not about to send her boys away again though, even though one of the flying bombs had landed less than a mile away from Roy’s mums.
Vera’s hope for a quick end to the war after Normandy came to nothing. Heavy fighting continued, Cherbourg was not captured until the end of the month, and progress was slow. The radio had better news of the fighting in the Far East, with success in Burma, and the Russians were moving ever closer to Germany too. She had still heard nothing from Les, but continued to send letters anyway, on the offchance he might get them.
Rumours started up about Janet, when she stopped turning up for work. Despite the cooling down of their friendship, Vera decided to go round to the Reid’s, to see if she was alright. One day she would be her sister-in-law, all being well, and there was no point in having any bad feeling between them. Mrs Reid was acting funny, and talked about not hearing from Les. She said Janet was in her room, and Mr Reid was on shift. But she offered a cup of tea, and as Vera waited for that, Janet appeared, needing to go out to use the lavatory.
Anyone could see she was having a baby. Her belly was sticking out, and there was no chance it was because she was eating too much. When she came back inside, she smiled at Vera. “Bring your tea up to my room, and we’ll have a talk”. She seemed keen to talk to her former close friend, and was brutally honest. “Tell you the truth, Vera, I don’t know who the father is. But I was also seeing a Yank called Louis, and managed to convince him it was his. He wanted me to have it, and says he will marry me and take me to live in Oklahoma after the war. But then he went and got dragged into that D-Day thing, and now I don’t know where he is”. Vera had lots of questions, like what did her dad think, and how had her mum reacted. But she decided to ask her something else. “What will you do if he gets killed?”
Janet shrugged. “Have it adopted, I ‘spose, I haven’t thought that far ahead. But if he comes back from France okay, he reckons we can have a good life on his family farm out there. He says it is so big that it takes all day to drive from one end to the other”. Vera couldn’t help but laugh. “What will you do on a bloody farm, Jan?” Janet shrugged her shoulders. “Have lots more kids probably”.
Three weeks later, Paris was liberated, and Vera hoped it would really end now.