Chapter 6

Written by: Linda Alley

Yorkshire, England – November 1941

They were standing at the altar, hands clasped. Lilian knew the Reverend was somewhere nearby, but already the edges had begun to blur. Desperately, she leaned in, but at that moment a dreadful wailing started. The church filled with smoke.

***

Lilian’s eyes sprung open. She strained her ears for the air raid siren, but there was only silence punctuated by the distant bleating of sheep. A heavy emptiness settled upon her. Mustering all her strength, she rolled over. Only 9 o’clock. She never woke this early after night shift. She tugged open the heavy black out curtains. A thick, curling fog had crept down from the moors, concealing everything beyond the edge of the estate.

As she watched, a young woman appeared through the wall of mist, head down, hands thrust deep in the pockets of a well-worn tartan coat.

Lilian squirmed as she remembered her encounter with Roy last night. She really should have called the police again, but she couldn’t bear Enid’s resentful silence any longer. Splashing water on her face, she hurried down into the grounds. Enid was circling the Chinese pagoda, an unlit cigarette clenched between her teeth. With a pang, Lilian was suddenly aware how deep the chasm between them had become. She’d never seen Enid smoke before.

“Enid?”

Enid’s head jerked up. Whey-faced, she turned towards Lilian, green eyes glinting over the dark hollows in her upper cheeks. She struck a match but her hands were shaking so much it immediately went out.

“Enid, aren’t we the same now? We’ve both lost….don’t you think we should…”

Enid pushed roughly past her, striding towards the hall.

At least you had the chance to marry your man, Lilian thought. The closest she and Alan had got to the altar was last night’s dream. She turned towards the bridle path that led over the moor, but before she could set out a pyjama-clad figure came zig-zagging out of the fog, his hand glistening with blood.

“Lieutenant Crowther!” Lilian cried, but he staggered on, eyes unblinking.

Turning, she saw Enid intercept the patient. She was patting his arm and talking to him in low, soothing tones. They were too far away for Lilian to hear, but after a minute Crowther allowed himself to be led towards the hall.

Lilian let out a sigh. The war had helped her sister find her vocation and as long as Enid had a cause, she would find her way out of this darkness. As for herself, Lilian wasn’t quite so certain. Always happier outdoors than in, she had been longing for the day the war ended and she could hang up her nurse’s uniform.

“I would have made a wonderful farmer’s wife,” she whispered, stepping onto the bridle path.

A curtain of fog closed over the hall and soon Lilian could barely see her own hand when she flapped it in front of her face. She came upon the hollow so suddenly that she nearly fell in.

 

 

 

Comments

I really enjoy the way you describe the way people react and interact and the way you capture Lilian's smouldering resentment. It really is very good. These people are real.