Under The Elm Tree – Episode 53


KITTY squinted hard as a young woman stepped from the shadows. Goodness, was that her sister? She jumped up and quickly opened the carriage door and hung her head out of the opening.

“Flo!” she called, beckoning to her. “In here!”

Florence turned an astonished face towards her and was soon flopping down on the seat beside her.

“Whatever are you doing back home?” she asked Kitty. “I thought you were up at Camberley.”

“I’ve finished my initial training. They’ve given us all a couple of days’ leave. But what about you?”

“I’m going home. I always go home on Saturday evenings,” Florence said.

“Of course you do. I’d forgotten.”

“It’s only six weeks you’ve been away, Kitty, not six years!” Florence laughed, and despite the heaviness in her heart, Kitty couldn’t help joining in.

“You look very smart in your uniform,
I must say,” Florence continued, looking her older sister up and down as the train began to move and the lights blinked on again.

Kitty smoothed down her khaki serge skirt and adjusted her military style jacket.

“Thanks,” she said, pleased. “And what’s happened to my little sister, come to that?” She let her eyes linger on Florence’s cherry-red tailored coat and jaunty little matching hat. “Who took her away and replaced her with you?”

They laughed again. It was good to be back.

“How are you getting on at Otterby’s?”

“Oh, much better. Some of the older girls have left to join the Forces, and Mrs Potter says she doesn’t know what she’d do without me now.”

They chatted comfortably as the train chugged its way towards Hamton Halt. From there, it was a 20-minute walk along the lane to Wembury, and soon they were pushing open the gate to Hollyhocks.

Muriel beamed at them as they walked in.

“Both my girls back together,” she said, giving them each a quick hug. Her smile faltered as she turned away, and Kitty knew it was because she was thinking of George.

“He’ll come, Mother, as soon as he gets some leave,” she said softly.

“I know.” She nodded. “I know.”

She paused for a moment before her voice became brisk again.

“Now, get your things off and go and make the front room nice and cosy for when your dad gets in. I’ll put the kettle on.”

****

Florence drew the blackout curtains and turned on the standard lamp, while Kitty bent down to light the fire in the little grate, taking care not to use too much of their precious supply of coal. The first flames were just beginning to flicker when she heard the latch on the back door click, followed by the rumble of Albert’s deep voice.

The door soon opened.

“Hello, you two. Both home together, are you?”

“Hello, Dad,” they chorused, hurrying over to give him a kiss.

He held them for a moment in a bear hug.

“Now, where’s my tea?” he said, and Kitty and Flo exchanged a smile. They knew how hard their father found it to express how he felt.

Right on cue, Muriel came in and placed a tray of sandwiches on the table, together with a pot of tea and some cups and saucers.

When they’d eaten, they gathered around the meagre fire to chat.

“Them lisle stockings look nice and warm,” Muriel commented.

Kitty looked down at her thickly clad legs and grimaced.

“They’re not very glamorous, like nylons, but they’re nice and warm now the weather’s turned,” she replied. “Khaki’s not the most flattering colour, though, is it? Everything’s khaki – even our bloomers,” she joked, and they laughed.

“Now then, that’s enough of that talk,” Albert admonished, which made the girls laugh even harder.

Kitty held out her hands to the fire.

“I’ve got my posting, Dad.”

Albert reached for his pipe and tobacco tin.

“Have you now. And where’s that, then?”

“Aldershot. I’m going to be a driver.”

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”.