This is the thirty-ninth part of a fiction serial, in 742 words.
The first week in July saw election day. For the first time in ten years, the country was going to vote. Vera and Elsie both said they couldn’t be bothered, but Albert was keen. “I’m voting for that Mr Attlee, he’s got a lot of good ideas to help working people like us. And after all this time, I reckon a change will do the country good”. Elsie looked up from her sewing, eyebrows raised. “And what about Mr Churchill then? He’s done a very good job, kept us going he did”. Albert wasn’t interested. “At the end of the day, he’s a rich toff. I’ve had enough of him and his cigars, and all his blood, sweat, and tears. Time for a change, Elsie love”.
Vera was even less interested in politics when she got a letter from Les, the first one in such a long time. She took it straight to her room, and read it a dozen times. He was in a British army field hospital in Germany, due to being very weak and thin, and having an infected ulcer on his leg. He said that he hoped to be fit to travel in few weeks, and would get transport to France, then a ship to Dover or Portsmouth. He he had managed to hang on to her photo, though his wallet had been taken. But he wasn’t very romantic, and even said he would understand if she had moved on with her life after all that time.
The letter had taken ages to arrive, which made Vera excited. It meant he might already be on his way, perhaps even back in England by now.
There was no election result the next day. It was being delayed until the end of the month, to allow returning soldiers to cast their votes. Albert was bullish though. “He’s done it, I tell you. Mr Attlee will be in charge, and we will soon see how much better things will be”.
It was easy to forget that Japan was still fighting. The newsreels showed the bombing raids on big cities there, and everyone wondered how much longer the Japs would carry on. Albert had his say about that too. “I reckon we will have to invade Japan. Fight every inch of the way across those islands, and wipe out every last soldier. Those buggers don’t know they’re beaten, and will fight to the last man. It’s going to go on for years out there, you mark my words”.
The next morning, there was a letter from Les in the first post. He was in England, at Windsor barracks. Still not fit enough for full duties, he would be given leave soon, and allowed to come to London to see his family. This time he seemed more positive, and mentioned how he had never stopped loving her, and wanted to know if she still felt the same. That made her cry with happiness. She replied immediately, and posted the letter on her way to work. She told him that nothing had changed, she still wanted to marry him, and couldn’t wait to see him.
A few days later, Albert was proved right for once, when Labour won the election with a landslide victory, and Mr Attlee became the prime minister. Albert did a funny little dance around the room, and told them he was going to the pub to celebrate with his friends.
Viv came round with the boys, and said how she had voted labour too. “Things are gonna be better, mum. I’m hopeful for the boys to do well later, and if Attlee does all he claims, I reckon the future is definitely something to look forward to”. Elsie was surprised by her eldest daughter, as she had never once spoken about politics before. Janet turned up just before Viv left. She was carrying baby Mildred, and looking happy. “Louis has been discharged. He wrote and said it shouldn’t be long before he can get here now, once all the ships get back to normal on the Atlantic crossings”. Elsie made some more tea, and wiped away a tear as the kettle boiled. So much good news in one week was almost overwhelming.
The following week, Japan surrendered. Albert said the Yanks had dropped two super-bombs on the country, and they couldn’t go on after that.
That same evening, there was a knock on the door.
Vera answered it, to find Les standing there.