Journeys End in Lovers Meetings (2000 words)


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[FONT=&quot]Journeys End in Lovers Meetings (2000 words)[/FONT]
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[FONT=&quot]Part 1[/FONT]
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[FONT=&quot]Amy Harper felt a fraud sitting in the high-backed chair beside her hospital bed. In Amy’s opinion; (twenty-five year old Amy had an opinion on everything,) there was no reason why she couldn’t go home.[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]“Christmas Day tomorrow, and me stuck in hospital” [/FONT][FONT=&quot]Amy drummed impatient fingers on the arm of her chair as the unfairness of everything fluttered around her brain like a moth. “Christmas Day, and next week New Year. 1941 and I’m going to spend it in hospital” Her face softened when she remembered the reason why she was in her present situation. Joan. Beautiful, precious Joan. Two days old already! Me and Bob parents. Who would have thought it? And what a way to come into the world.” Amy’s face clouded at the memory “And thank God that me and Bob got through it. It was only luck wasn’t it, that we had been out back in the kitchen when the bomb fell? If we’d been in the front, then neither of us would have seen the next day, let alone 1941.” Soft warm tears fell gently down Amy’s cheeks. Not everyone in Cutters Row had been so lucky.[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]Christmas in London’s East End would be a sombre one this year. The Blitz had raged since September and Amy’s part of London, down by the docks, suffered badly. Night after night, the residents of Cutters Row made their way to the tube station around the corner, and spent uncertain nights keeping up each other’s spirits. With the dawn came a sense of relief, another night got through, a new day to come. Slowly making their way back to their homes, or at least, where they hoped their homes still stood, the same thought was on everyone’s mind: ‘Who coped it last night?’ But the weather turned nippy deep into November. Hard frosts made the thought of walking to the tube station an unappealing one. ‘Cutters Row’ thought the residents, ‘wouldn’t get hit now. Not when the war was on the turn. Not with Spitfires flying overhead. No, old Adolph was aiming further south of the river now’ Cutters Row decided to spent their winter nights under their kitchen tables by the warm fire in the grate.[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]Amy was doubly glad of an excuse to stay at home. Heavily pregnant with her first child, she found the damp, cramped tube station noisy and uncomfortable. Secondly, Bob, her husband of two years whom she hadn’t seen for eight months was due home on 72 hours leave just before Christmas.[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]Kind hearted Amy, warm and safe in hospital, felt guilty for her impatience. There were many of her neighbours she would never see again. Mothers, Fathers and children had lost their lives the night a rogue bomb had unerringly found its way to fall directly on Cutters Row. Bob had only been home an hour. Amy could still feel the warmth of his strong arms as he held her tenderly in a long embrace. How they laughed when the baby kicked its displeasure at being squashed by dad. Amy and Bob were the happiest people in the world. Two youngsters who had planned their future with such hope before Mr Hitler came along and interrupted them.[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]But it was an ill wind and all that. Bob had learned to drive in the army and found that he was good at it. After the war, he and Amy would get out of the East End and move to one of the new Garden Cities the government was talking about. ‘Sure to be looking for bus drivers’ he had written to Amy from somewhere in Europe. ‘Stands to reason,’ he’d continued, ‘after driving these old army lorries, a bus will be a piece of cake. Get a nice house too with a garden, not that old back yard we’ve got now. Somewhere for the baby and his brothers and sisters to play. So chin up old girl, soon be over. No match for the British Tommy the Hun. I’ll be home for good in the new year’ [/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]Well Bob came home, but after 72 short hours he must go back. ‘Back to finish off Hitler’ he’d said, so every second was precious to them. They didn’t hear the bomb fall, just felt their little rented house tumble around them and then nothing but dust and more dust. It didn’t seem long to Amy before the rescuers pulled her out. Bob grey with plaster but alive and unharmed followed. The first pain came as she lay on the cobbles and the second, a few minutes later. Next thing, or so it seemed to Amy, she was in hospital with Joan in a cot at the foot of her bed.[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]“It’s not as if I’m ill’[/FONT][FONT=&quot] fretted Amy, ‘I only live two streets away and I could easily come back quick if anything went wrong couldn’t I?” Her eyes twinkled. The nurses were busy, there’d been more bombings the previous night and the hospital was full. Joan lay asleep in the nursery and there was a fire escape directly behind Amy’s chair. Her coat was in her locker; she could nip down the fire escape and be home in ten minutes, fifteen at the most allowing for the busy time of year. Five minutes with Bob (what a shock he would have) and then he could walk her back. No one would notice, and what if they did? It was worth a telling off to spend a few minutes with Bob. “Poor Bob! Living across the road with old Mrs Harris and her whiskery chin” Amy laughed at the thought “ But so kind of the old girl to take him in while he got the front of the house shored up and found somewhere for us and Joan to live. What lark when I turn up. And what a tale to tell our grandchildren… The day granny broke out of hospital. Granny! Bob a granddad.. Oh Lord, I can’t imagine us old.”[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot] Of course, there was no stopping Amy once her mind was made up; everyone who knew her, also knew how strong willed she was. Stealthily she found her coat and slipped it on over her nightie.[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]“One thing about this old war”[/FONT][FONT=&quot] thought Amy as she scuttled around the corner into Cutters Row; “nobody notices what you’re wearing” She stopped suddenly. This was the first time she had seen the street in daylight since the bombing. Where once had stood a row of terraced housed, now stood a wide, open space with just a couple of houses left standing. “Oh my God” she moaned, her voice liquid with grief. “Me and Bob have been so lucky”[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]‘[/FONT][FONT=&quot]Blimey, I’m not as fit as I used to be either’Amy was finding it difficult to breath and had trouble pushing open the battered door to her home. Climbing over a pile of rubble she made her way to the kitchen and there was Bob. “What kept you old girl? He held out his arms. I knew you’d come today. I’ve been waiting for you’ His eyes bright with joy, Bob took Amy in his arms. The kiss lasted a long, long time….[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]Part 2[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]“Well, that’s bloody well torn it” Nurse Mandy Wilson flopped into a chair in the nurses’ coffee room. Haven’t I always said we don’t have enough staff on this ward…? Haven’t I? The question went unanswered. Mandy was in full flow, and the two other occupants of chairs knew her too well to interrupt. “It’ll be in the papers you know. And who’ll get the blame? Us and never mind all the work we do. Oh no, sure as eggs we’ll be on News at 10’ She stirred her coffee, went to take a sip, thought of something else and replaced the mug on a low table in front of her. “Not only does a ninety year old patient get out without us seeing her, but the bugger drops dead in the middle of Sainsbury’s climbing over a sack of spuds!”[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]“Actually, Mrs Harper was ninety-one”. Ward Clerk Cherry Bainton took advantage of Mandy’s pause for breath. “And…”[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]“Ninety, ninety-one, what does it matter?” Mandy had regained her breath. “Living in the past, all of them. Old Mr Jacob in the men’s ward threw his breakfast at me this morning. Said it wasn’t worth putting his teeth in to eat that rubbish. There’s bloody gratitude for you”[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]“Perhaps the past is a nicer place to live in than the here and now?” The tone was mild, but the meaning hit home. Mandy had the grace to blush at Staff Nurse Liz Evan’s words. ‘They weren’t always old you know Mandy. We’ll all get like that one day, so treat people as you would wish to be treated yourself. Mrs Harper was very confused and shouldn’t have been put by that fire escape. It IS our fault.” Annoyance flickered across Liz’s normally kind face. “She was a lovely old dear, just a bit muddled that’s all.”[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]“Well,” Mandy was off again, “wait till the relatives hear. They’ll sue our asses off for sure. That’s all I’m saying on the subject” She reached for a biscuit and munched it angrily. “Thank God I’m in the union.” Crumbs sprayed across the small table.[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]“Mrs Harper had no relatives.” Cherry brushed crumbs from her lap. “She was all alone in the world, my mum remembers her from when she lived round her”[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]“I forgot” Liz turned to the ward clerk. You come from this area don’t you Cherry. Tell us about old Mrs Harper”[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]Well, of course, I don’t remember her at all” Cherry smiled, “she was more my granny’s age, but mum remembers her. ‘Course mum was only a little girl when the bomb went off”[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]“Bomb!” the other two said in union.[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]“IRA was it?” Mandy loved a bit of drama.[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]“No. It was back in the Blitz, early 1940’s.” Two pairs of eyes focused on Cherry, eager to hear the story. “Mrs Harper was in her early twenties, bit younger than my gran. Gran lived next door to an old girl called Mrs Harris. And the Harpers lived opposite. Cutters Row, I think the road was called. It’s not there now, but it was roughly where Sainsbury’s car park is. Anyway, Mrs Harper’s husband was home on leave, around Christmas time. She was expecting a baby. Mr Harper had only been home a few hours when the bomb fell. Direct hit on the Harpers side of the road, blew all gran’s windows out even though they were taped up.[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]Mrs Harper was pulled out more dead than alive; it was a miracle she survived by all accounts. It took another three days to find her husband’s body. Bill or Bob I think he was called. Killed outright, didn’t stand a chance. [/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]Funnily enough Mrs Harper was brought here, it was a General Hospital in those days, didn’t change to geriatrics until the 70’s I’ve got a feeling this wing was maternity back then. I’ll ring mum tonight, she’ll know the whole story. Mrs Harper lost the baby, a little girl. So there you are. She lost her whole family in one night.[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]“What happened to her?” Mandy’s subdued voice asked.[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]“Oh, she moved after the war, across the river somewhere. But it didn’t make any difference. She was never the same again.” Cherry sighed. “As she got older her memory started playing tricks on her. Every thunderstorm, she was back in the Blitz. That’s what happened this time, that thunderstorm last night? It must have sent her back to the 1940’s. She went into a home a few years ago, but got too much for them and yesterday, as you know, she was brought in here for assessment. Funny old world isn’t it? Ended her days back where she belonged and roughly where her old house was too. Gosh… How strange… I wonder if…?[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]A harassed looking student nurse stuck her head around the half open door “Mr Jacob’s chucked his bedpan at sister again. We don’t ‘alf need some help out here Staff”[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]Liz, Cherry and Mandy dragged themselves back to the 21[SUP]st[/SUP] century and made their way to the ward.[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]“Cherry” Liz slowed down to walk alongside her friend, “what did you mean by, ‘I wonder if?’[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]“I suppose it’s nothing,” Cherry spoke slowly” but the copper who came to the ward to say she’d been found; told sister that when Mrs Harper came through the door of Sainsbury’s, the staff said that she seemed to recognise someone. Her face lit up and she climbed over those organic veggies like a young girl. She was smiling when she died. Can’t help wondering what she saw can you?[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]“No I suppose you can’t” Liz pushed open the swing doors to the ward “and if I were you Cherry love, I wouldn’t even try.”[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]© by author[/FONT]
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[FONT=&quot]*I got the idea for this story several years ago, before I retired. I overheard one of my student nurses patronising an elderly patient. By the time I’d finished with her, she wouldn’t make that mistake again[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]Please don’t think I have delusions of grandeur copyrighting this, but I had a story pinched off the internet a few years ago. The fellow published it under his own name and was paid handsomely for it and there was nothing I could do because I couldn’t prove it wasn’t his idea in the first place[/FONT]
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