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A short story.

Posted by Tia Price on February 2, 2015 at 3:15 AM Comments comments (0)

Post war Britain.

After the bombs and the smells of smoke and fear littered this once great nation had dissipated. The young man, stepped lightly but with purpose over the cobbles. A florist was arranging peonies in a vase, some window display and the youth stopped to admire the wares. George picked up a posy from the flower seller, paid the ha penny and walked on, his mind a mingle of cynicism and relief. It was hard to tell if it was better now that Labour was in Power, now that the country was stony broke and the government wanted to Nationalise everything. 'I voted for the other guy' George had said, proudly to those bar flies in 'The Duchess', a murmur, a ripple of approval was all he received. ' Still, it is, 1948 the dawning of a new time for freedom' George thought to himself.

His thoughts began to turn to that of his new sweetheart, was he jumping the gun? Would she be wearing the violet dress with those darling pleats that framed her so wonderfully? He knew he was a silly romantic, Myrtle had often told him that- before she ran off with the baker from Shoreditch- but Myrtle was not the type you marry and a real lady appreciated romance. Myrtle had been in the armouries, she had been making the shells, even though she'd been young to it. Sylvia was a land girl. Brought up on a farm, she knew hard graft- yet she was a lady, a proper lady who made him feel like a proper gent. Like he meant something. His chest puffed up and out as this thought filled his mind. Sylvia, her name made him think of clouds and it made him happy.

He rounded a corner, suddenly nervous as he thought of her sweet face, when he saw the violet encased lady sat at the little outdoor table of the tea room. Her hands folded demurely in her lap and that chestnut pin curled hair. She was radiant as she looked up and smiled at his silly boy walk.

He was so silly, she thought to herself, but such a sweetheart. She could see him surrounded by little ones and being the most wonderful Daddy, soft and gentle unlike her own father who had ruled that particular roost with a fist of something darker and heavier than iron. 'The Nazis would've made a better father'.

George leaned forward, worry knotting his brow ' are you alright Sylvia, you look troubled?' His hand leaned across the table but stopped short of contact, a social grace she was grateful for though she would've loved otherwise. ' Oh, no, you must forgive me Georgie, I was only thinking of what will happen with this country now. The clean up, the money and labour giving us all the chance to health care. It is a strange time isn't it?'

Sylvia, my smart and lovely lady of the land, George thought to himself, this is why you are so darling , you know politics.

The little lie seemed enough for him she thought as she gently plucked the posy he extended toward her and breathed in its soft floral scent. ' Thank you George, it's lovely. It matches my dress'. Taking out her little notebook she place the posy inside delicately and pressed the pages together.

The waiter come out as George sat down and took their orders for cream teas. A luxury they could hardly fathom.

Sylvia looked at George and hoped that he was the gentleman she thought who would be that ideal she dreamed of. She knew her time as a land girl was reaching its end, with farms being sold and the war no longer pushing their efforts. It was soon time to find herself a husband, proud as she was of the work she had done, still, she could think of nothing lovelier than being someone's wife and someone's mother, it was like her gift for all her hard work.

George was soon to be training as a cobbler in his Uncle Arthur's shop. His National service ended already, having missed any real action spending his training on home soil, still, he had done something, been part of that fight in some small way. He knew it was time he gave a foundation to the life he wanted.

The young people looked at each other, less coyly than they felt, hardened through the disasters they had narrowly avoided, enjoying each others company whilst musing their new beginnings. The waiter brought out their scones and the slightest smidgen of jam and cream. To them it seemed a feast, even if the scones were doughy and the sultanas a little too dry, it was a treat like no other.

As they tucked into their food, they heard a giggling and a stomping on the cobbles. The laughter was familiar to George as he turned his head to see Myrtle, with her arm around a man in Sailor uniform. As she got closer he could see the bulge of her tummy, perhaps only a month to go, he was suddenly a little shocked. 'Georgie Peorgie what are you doing here, this is my little plot of town?' The red head said cocking her head with an exaggerated smirk. Sylvia was uncomfortable. Before George could respond Myrtle said ' this- indicating the young fellow on her arm- is Sammy. He and I are getting married next Wednesday week in the Church on Furls street. He's in the Navy.'

' I see that. You must've seen some action?' ' Sammy looked at some faraway point and nodded, but it didn't seem true, Sylvia noted. ' Glad to see your settled Myrtle, and glad you'll be made an honest women yet' he winked.

' oohs this then?' Sylvia extended her gloved hand and smiled ' I'm Sylvia Thomas, I've known George a little while now.' Myrtle did not move her arm from around the sailor, nor did she seem to hear. ' well we'd best be going, got to find my wedding cake, something that doesn't taste like chalk and flour. Only the best' and with that she sauntered away gripping the sailor. Further down the street the young couple heard the exaggerated whisper and shrill giggles of Myrtle and her beau as they disappeared from view.

' I'm sorry about that, she was a lady I spent a little time with but she was not for me.' George was very embarrassed by the run in, ashamed that Sylvia might think the worst of him. ' Its fine George. We all have some sort of past and I can't expect a young man like yourself to have a totally clean slate, can I? She doesn't seem to appeal to you now at any rate' with a sip of still precious tea Sylvia smiled.

They spent a little time discussing the possibilities of health care for everyone, the end of bread rationning that had occurred that July, George's plans for the shop when it got passed on to him and all other manner of things. By the time they realised the waiter was stacking chairs around them, there was a strong feeling between them that neither could deny. George stood and extended his hand for Sylvia.

'Syl, there's this tea dance on Friday, some friends from the army will be there and I wondered, if you would do me the honour. I don't dance well and for a cobbler to be I have two left feet but I'd love...'

'Yes George I'd love to step out with you' and the weight of her words told George exactly what he needed to hear, and his shyness showed her the same.

'Friday then, six at the old clock building?'

'That sounds perfect'.

George withheld the urge to lift his hand to her chin and kiss her lovely mouth, it would have gone against sensibilities. This had to be done right, as it should be.

The young couple took a long look at each other and then walked in opposite directions. Sylvia clutched the journal with the pressed posy inside, smiling to herself. She knew her true future, started here in this free world, with that silly boy.

As he listened to her gentle footfall, George could not resist one last glance and as he turned so too did she. 'Im going to marry you Sylvia Thomas, and I'm going to love you with every second of my life'

He thought this with such surety, a like of which he'd never experienced before in his young life.

 

 

 


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