Under The Elm Tree – Episode 11


December 1938

IT was the night of the WI dance, and Kitty, Sid and their friends Margaret and Ivy were linked arm in arm, walking down the lane towards the village hall. The December evening was blustery and threatened rain.

“How’s your dad now, Kitty?” Ivy asked, bending her head against a sudden gust of wind.

“The doctor says he’s got to stay in bed for at least four weeks,” Kitty told her. “Honestly, you’ve no idea what a bad patient he is.” She groaned. “He’s driving us all mad.”

Margaret and Ivy laughed, but Sid remained serious.

“I thought he was a goner lying there, white as a sheet,” he said soberly. “He’s lucky it weren’t worse. When I saw him fall off that barn ladder, I thought he’d broke his back at least. He couldn’t move at all.”

“Well, the doctor says he’s lucky he didn’t,” Kitty told him as they turned up the path to the village hall. “You should see his back – it’s black and blue.”

Sid stepped back to allow the girls to go up the steps first.

“He’s not the sort to find lying in bed easy, is he?” he said.

She paused beside him.

“No, he’s not,” she agreed. “But worrying about his job is making it worse. He’s convinced Mr Pagget will let him go.”

“The trouble is, Kitty, things can’t wait on a farm. The boss will have to get help in soon.”

They passed into the foyer.

“I know that,” she said, “and so does Dad. He’s finding it hard to accept, that’s all. And all the talk of another war isn’t helping, either. Mother says he’s been having his old nightmares about the Somme again.”

“I don’t think there’ll be another war,” Margaret said firmly, slipping out of her coat. “Not now Mr Chamberlain’s managed to get the Germans to sign an agreement.”

“I’m not so sure.” Sid took his place beside them in the queue in front of the cloakroom. “They’ve started digging trenches in the park in Farchester, and the government wouldn’t have ordered that if they didn’t think it might come to it, would they?”

“Well, I suppose not,” Kitty said thoughtfully.

“Anyway, if it does come to it,” he continued, “I’ve decided on the Army. The other lads at the farm are going to join up, too.” He grinned. “I reckon I’d look good in khaki, what d’you think, girls?”

Laughing, they handed in their coats, and Kitty stopped for a moment to smooth down her dress. She was pleased with the alterations she’d made. The new buttons and satin ribbon she’d added were just the thing, and it gave her confidence to know she looked nice.

The sound of musical instruments being tuned drifted out to them from the hall.

“Come on, you lot,” Sid called, waving the girls forward. “The band’s about to start. Don’t forget I’ve bagged the first dance with you, Kitty.”

“I haven’t forgotten,” she assured him, though she couldn’t help wishing he’d asked one of the others. If her suspicions were correct and he was becoming sweet on her, he might take her acceptance as encouragement.

 

Alan Spink

Alan is a member of the “Friend” Fiction Team. He enjoys working closely with writers and being part of the creative process which sees storytelling ideas come to fruition. A keen reader, he also writes fiction and enjoys watching football and movies in his spare time. His one aspiring tip to new writers is to “write from your imagination”.