8 March 2012


Carefully, the elderly lady picks up the photo standing on the old wooden
sideboard. Smiling, she blows away the dust, and gives it a quick wipe
with a cloth. It has been a daily ritual, and she replaces the frame on
the exact spot where it has stood for the last year.

Elsie is now content and makes her way to the small, but homely kitchen.
"Time for a nice cup of tea I think," she says to herself, for there has been no one else to listen for a long time. The tea made, she sits at the table and stares at the wall, the vision of the man in the photograph still fresh in her mind.

Holding the cup in both hands, she smiles again. The kitchen begins to fade, and the loneliness she has felt since Jack passed away, slowly transforms into the sound of music, laughter, and air raid sirens. The table with three empty chairs, is now a table in The Palais, and the chairs no longer empty.

"Can I walk you home then Elsie?" asks Jack shyly. Elsie laughs and looks at Maude.

"What do you think Maude, do you think I am safe with this man?" Maude sips her drink before answering,

"Probably not, his hands will be all over the place, you know what those RAF blokes are like."

They both laugh now.

"Well in that case, what am I waiting for!" Roars of girlish laughter fill the dance hall, and she takes the shy young man by the arm. Amidst gentle teasing, they say their goodbyes and emerge into the cold night outside.

"You really are a minx" Jack says with a smile.

"Oh really?" Elsie replies in mock protest,

They walk past the bombed out ruins of a corner shop. It seems like only yesterday, that old Mr. Evans ran the shop. Now the shop, and Mr. Evans are gone.

Though danger is ever present, the two young people are for now, more concerned with the moment, than for the past or future.

Elsie does not notice that the cup in her hands is now cold. She does not hear the radio, with their ads for mobile phones, Internet providers or cut rate long distance phone calls. She hears air raid sirens. She does not hear the radio host telling a listener he is a mindless moron.

She hears Jack saying "I love you Elsie.

It had been two weeks since that night at the Palais, two more weeks of bombing - and one day nearer Jack's departure. They walked hand in hand through the deserted park, wanting to make these moments last for ever. She was not the first young girl to say goodbye to her man, nor would she be the last.

At this moment though, she and Jack were the only ones to know the sadness of farewell and the fear and uncertainty of what lay ahead. She smiled. A smile that would spring into Jack's mind, as he lay on his bunk a thousand miles away.

Slowly Elsie rose from the kitchen chair, and walked carefully to the living room. Sitting down with a sigh of relief, she looked once more at the handsome, uniformed man in the photograph. He had lovely eyes, and jet black, brylcreamed hair.

Whenever she thought of Jack, she saw him as he was all those years ago.

Exactly as he was in the photo.

"Think I will have a little nap" she said to no one in particular. She was too tired to make her way to the bedroom, so she stretched out on the sofa. She looked towards the photograph and closed her eyes. She fell asleep, a deep peaceful sleep.

"Hello Jack, I've missed you."

"Hello Elsie , I have been waiting for you my girl"

Wherever you may be - be safe
Copyright Mike Hitchen Online, Lane Cove, NSW, Australia. All rights reserved