Flash from The Scribblers

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From Ellie

 

The Realisation
There was no comforting voice at the other end of the phone. No one to help, she was alone. Liza shoved back her chair and rose to her feet. She had to get away from here, these scrutinising bright lights, this sterile emptiness.

She stepped out into the anonymous night. Safe there. Liza thought she could pass through unremarked, un-judged. Yet amongst the ones who noticed nothing there were those who saw, who seemed to see straight through her – watching. Out here in the darkness of the alleyways she could think, try to untangle the maze in her mind. The light when it came was flashing, it moved too fast. It didn’t illuminate, it blinded.

There was no looking back. No going back.

Dawn was hostile, recriminating. A new day Liza was unsure she wanted. Another day to get through. Another day of conflict, of mind-struggle. She was tired now but she had to go on. Didn’t she? Pull herself up as best she could.

She’d been coping. Just. She’d been alright. She’d been alright till she saw the man with the bird, the man with the piercing eyes. Eyes that knew. That reached her soul. He’d stroked the bird gently as she had once stroked her belly and she imagined its wings fluttering in the cup of his hand like the fluttering she’d once felt in her womb.

Liza had left it late. Too late she’d come to realise. It had been her decision, hers alone and now she was overwhelmed by a surge of remorse. The scream she heard, visceral, anguished, was her own. The pain of regret was pain for them both.

 

Coming Home from Ron

Julie Cross paces across the floor. Her flat shoes making no sound on the thick pile carpet. Billy, her four-year-old son, plays soldiers with his action man in the kitchen. For the umpteenth time she peers out of the window for the car to arrive. Today she must not be late.

Her mind wanders to her husband. He was always there, mentally if not physically. Her one stable force she so desperately needed in her life. Love bound them for eternity. Today she felt so alone, so lost, incapable of doing even the smallest tasks. Billy had asked what was wrong but she simply said she was nervous. This was the beginning, the suffering and the endless empty days that were in store for her.

Their first meeting was strange, a blind date, arranged by her sister. From their first moment, she fell one hundred percent in love with him. How could she ever live without him? He’s my best friend and, my anchor. My one constant in a world filled with chaos.

Reality resumes by the ding-dong of the doorbell. She glances out of the front window and sees a gleaming black car. “Billy, its time to go. Put your coat on.”

She runs to the door, unlocks the latch and opens it wide. “Billy, hurry up.”

“Flight Sergeant Bob Williams. I have the honour to take you to the base.”

She smiles at the man standing there. He is short, with square shoulders and black, close-cropped hair. From his polished shoes to his immaculate uniform, he is a lifetime airman.

He checks the time. “No rush. The flight is a little late. Head wind or something.”

“We’re ready. Come on Billy.”

Her son runs out, dragging his coat with one hand while the other grips his action man. He looks at his mother as she helps him with his coat. “Don’t worry, mum, I’ll hold your hand. Dad knows I’m here to look after you.”

“You’re daddy’s boy.”

Once seated Julie gazes straight ahead, half-aware of a world outside the comfort of the car. As always when travelling Billy dozes. The journey to the RAF base takes fifty-five minutes.

At the main gate to the base, the driver stops to allow the barrier to rise. Seconds later, he drives on to an area next to the main runway.

As Julie and Billy alight from the car, a corporal approaches.

“There’s tea and coffee and sandwiches inside the marquee. Please help yourself. I will advise everyone when the aircraft is on its final approach.”

She grips Billy’s hand and enters. Two other women with their children sit at different tables. Julie nods to them and sits at an empty table.

“Can I have a coke, mum?”

She flashes her eyes. “Go and ask the man with a white jacket and I’m sure he’ll serve you.” She watches as he runs off, thankful he doesn’t understand. Again she remembers the good times, relives them. This experience has not and will not crush me. Billy returns clutching a glass filled with coke.

“Be careful and don’t spill any on your coat.”

“Okay, mum.”

“Ladies and gentlemen. The aircraft you are waiting for is due to land in five minutes. Mrs Cross, will you please lead.”

She nods takes Billy’s hand and follows the young airman.

Outside, the scent of cut grass fills the air. The sky is blue with just a few high clouds drifting towards an unknown destination. For once, the weather is perfect.

The large transport lands and taxis to a stop. In the distance, three groups of uniformed airmen march towards the descending ramp.

A soft voice from behind says, “You may move towards the aircraft.”

With her son, she walks slowly, almost robotically, as if her brain is struggling to tell each foot to take the next step.

Her timing could not have been better. Her husband’s coffin begins to slide into the hearse as she arrives.

Billy tugs her hand. “Daddy says it okay to cry.”

 

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