This is the thirty-seventh part of a fiction serial, in 740 words.
On the first of March, Janet had the baby in her bedroom at home. It was a big bouncing girl, and other than some bleeding that was difficult to stop, Janet did well. Vera went round to see her and the baby, which had blonde hair that was almost white. Janet smiled. “What a relief. Louis has blonde hair, so maybe it is his after all. I was hoping and praying it wasn’t one of those black soldiers. Don’t know what the hell I would have done then. Reckon my dad would have thrown me out”. Vera raised her eyebrows at that, and Janet grinned, seeing her friend was uncomfortable. “They’re such good dancers, Vera, you should try one”. Deciding not to reply, Vera had a vision of what her dad would think about her being seen out with one of them.
The baby was called Mildred. Janet didn’t like that name at all, but she had promised Louis she would name the baby after his mum or dad, and she could put his name down as the father on the birth certificate too.
By the end of the month, the rockets and bombing had stopped completely. There would be no more attacks at all after that. Albert was still acting like some authority on the war, even after all this time. “THose Jerries must have run out of petrol by now. That, and the launch sites have all been captured”. Elsie was not so quick to stop worrying. “What about in Germany, Bert? They must still have places where they can fire them from”. Albert shook his head. “Mark my words, the Russkies will have sorted them out. You can forget about any bloomin’ rockets from now on”. When he was proved right, Elsie didn’t mention what he had said.
Most news from the war was positive now. It was heartening to read about successes in Burma, and the Yanks were doing well, getting ever closer to Japan by capturing islands. Her dad read the paper out over dinner most evenings, then they listened to the radio news when they had finished eating. The Russians were deep into Germany, heading for Berlin, but they said the fighting was terrible, some of the worst of the entire war. American soldiers were doing well in the south of Germany too, with that General Patton advancing really fast.
Then Roy came home. They got the bus to his mum’s place, to save him struggling with his crutches. He looked tanned and fit, and other than a big bandage covering his left foot, he seemed to be his old self. He tapped his foot with the tip of one crutch. “Lost the three smallest toes, and a bit of the side of me foot. Still got the big toe, and the one next to it. Hurt like a bugger, I can tell you”.
Albert wanted to know more about how he got the wound.
“Well, we was under fire, and went to ground. Big mortars they had, regimental ones, them sort. I rolled down a verge and laid on me back, didn’t I?” Viv nodded a yes in reply, as if she had been there. “Well it carried on with a heavy machine gun firing from somewhere, so we can’t get up. Then there’s this whoosh noise, and I feel like someone’s stamped on me foot, but really hard like. I turned around and saw the staff sergeant, and he looked bad, blood all over. So I goes to get up to help him, and fall over. The boot and sock has gone off me foot , and it was covered in blood. When the second platoon finally took the position, they came back and took me to the dressing station on a stretcher”.
Albert was more impressed by the two stripes on Roy’s uniform. “You made corporal then. Well done”.
When they got back home after the visit, Janet was standing outside the house, holding baby Mildred. Elsie shook her head. “You should have let yourself in love, you know the key is on a string inside the letterbox”. Janet was beaming. “It’s okay, Mrs Dodds, I haven’t been here long”. She turned to Vera. “It’s Les. The Americans found him in a POW camp in Germany. The Red Cross contacted the army, and they sent a telegram to dad!”
Vera felt her knees buckle, and tears of joy run down her face.