Under The Elm Tree – Episode 25


January 1939

CAREFUL, Dad!”

Kitty watched her father as he hobbled down the garden path leaning heavily on a walking stick. His recovery from the accident on the farm had been steady so far.

“I am being careful!” he called, turning stiffly and making his way back. “If I’m going to walk my daughter down the aisle, I’ve got to practise. It won’t do to be tripping up halfway to the altar.”

An aeroplane sounded in the sky above them, and they looked up in unison.

“Spitfire,” Albert said knowledgeably. “They’re putting it through its paces. Look.” Together they watched the little fighter plane swoop and dive. “They’ll teach the Germans a lesson or two when war’s declared.” He smiled grimly.

“If war’s declared, Dad, not when.”

“It’ll happen, my girl. Sure as eggs is eggs.”

His words made her stomach turn uneasily. She didn’t want to believe that there would be a war, but her father knew about things like that. He’d fought in the Great War, after all.

The plane sped off and as Albert resumed his perambulations, Kitty’s mind turned to the wedding breakfast she’d helped to prepare that morning. It was a meagre spread, she thought ruefully, with tongue sandwiches and home-made jam tarts for afters. It would be a long time before she forgave George for gambling away Joyce’s wedding money.

Thank goodness Mother had put by the ingredients for the wedding cake, she acknowledged gratefully. It looked lovely standing in the middle of the table, iced and set with silk flowers from her best hat.

Suddenly she was aware that her father had stopped and was staring past her towards the cottage. She turned to see what had captured his attention, and her breath caught in her throat.

Joyce was standing in the open doorway, the winter sun slanting across the ivory satin of her wedding dress. Her hair, cut for the occasion in a modern bob, shone like gold beneath her headdress, and she held a posy of early snowdrops. She was a vision of loveliness.

Albert limped forward and kissed her gently on the cheek.

“You’ve made your old dad proud,” he said with a catch in his voice.

Kitty stepped forward to kiss her, too.

“You look like a film star,” she whispered. “As lovely as Bette Davis. Just wait till Frank sees you.”

A rasp of tyres beyond the hedge broke the moment, immediately followed by the slamming of an automobile door.

“Ready, Mr Bloomfield?” Harry Pagget’s voice called out.

“Ready, my boy!” Albert turned to Kitty. “Run and tell your mother I’m off.”

“All right, Dad.”

When she returned, Harry was settling Albert into the passenger seat of the car.

“Thanks, Harry,” she said, reaching out to touch his arm. “There’s no way Dad would have been able to walk with the rest of us to church.”

“Only too pleased to help.” He smiled. “Besides,” he added, his smile turning to a grin, “it’s a chance to drive Dad’s motor.”

Kitty’s mother bustled up, the feathers on her hat nodding furiously. When the car had driven off, she began to usher everyone together in the lane.

George, in his best Sunday suit, was placed at the front of the little procession with Joyce, then Kitty and their youngest sister, Florence, then the other guests behind them. George turned round to Kitty, his eyes alight with excitement . . .

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”.