Hey all -- something in my vague attempt to put something in this community.
I've been fiddling around with this for a while, and I was wondering if I could get some of your opinions on it. It goes without saying that I'm a bit nervous about sending this out - historical bits not included - and it gets less polished as it goes on, but bear with me. :)
There isn't a plot yet - right now it's a series of vignettes from a girl in Upottery (?), England about a paratrooper - I'm not sure where it's going, though hopefully I'll figure that out soon...right now it's just - well, read it.
x-posted to my lj - so apologies if you see this twice on your f-list!
Frank & Irene
They had met at a dance hall in London. The hall had been resplendent, decked out in patriotic glory. FOR OUR BOYS everything seemed to scream, with the implicit post script that this new – young, untrained, awkward – Americans deserved the same respect.
And so they received it – she had watched them as they slowly filtered in, the lights low but catching on their buttons, medals, clasps. It practically reflected off these newly minted troops, but surely that was only her imagination.
They walked in, two by two, three by three, cautiously, slowly, carefully, looking up to the high heights of the hall and across to the band and the empty dance floor.
Eventually their eyes wandered up around down across to the girls – they had worked so hard to make everything perfect – and their eyes lit up. She remembered laughing as couples quickly began to form.
He was there. A vision in olive green, with broad shoulders and brown hair that glistened with Brilliantine. Not to mention those silly trousers, tucked into his boots like that. He smelled different too, of aftershave and Camay soap.
“Hi,” he said, in that casual American way.
She smiled, and he continued, taking off his hat and tucking it under his arm.
“Care to dance?”
“My pleasure,” she said, and stepped forward.
He stopped her. “Can’t dance with you if I don’t know your name! I’m Sergeant Frank Collins. And you would be?”
“Irene. Irene Reynolds”
“Well Miss Reynolds, how well do you Lindy?”
The second time he appeared in her life, she was walking – deftly avoiding puddles and praying that the grey skies held out a bit longer before raining. She heard someone call out, and spun around, holding her groceries tightly.
“Scuse me, Miss?” a soldier called, as he trotted towards her. He stopped, and turned his head curiously. “Say, didn’t we dance together in London?” He looked hopeful.
She recognized him – that hair, that smell, that grin – it was unmistakable. “More like you stepped on my toes to somewhat of a beat in London.”
“No matter. What brings you to Upottery?”
“Transferred here. Boy am I glad to see a friendly face! I’ve got some free time--?” He suddenly noticed her precarious groceries. “Do you need help with that?”
“If you’re offering,” she said, and began to fill his open arms. She retained a few bags and motioned for him to follow her. “My place is just around here.”
He fell into step next to her.
Once they reached the house, she fished deep into her purse. The sky looked more threatening, so she looked furtively, pushing aside tissues coins ration coupons until she finally held the key up triumphantly.
It started to rain.
“Come in, come in,” she said, “The storm’ll be over soon enough.”
He sat, almost awkardly on one of the old wooden chairs in her kitchen. Again, that feeling that he was much too new for the surroundings.
“How do you take your—“ she paused. “Dear me, do you even drink tea?”
He looked a little sheepish. “Well, I haven’t actually tried it yet.”
“We can fix that,” she said, and couldn’t help but smile.
When the weather got warm, he would find her in the garden. Herbs, vegetables, and a small rose bush that reminded her of spring. He was helpful, albeit clumsy, and remained perennially confused about the foreign –to him, anyway- names of her vegetables.
He brought tiny things to her – needles for the Victrola, candy bars, things unheard of for years – those Americans, she remembered thinking. Where do they get these things?
He never had an umbrella, and she always worried. England was perennially damp, and being soaked to the skin never helped matters. She opened the door one day to find him standing unknowingly under the leaky bit of the gutter, his wet hair beginning to curl at the edges, looking very tired.
“Your country,” he said, slowly, “is very wet.”
“You’re only just now realising this, duck?”
He laughed, and leaned against the doorframe, and she realised he was closer than decency dictated was proper. Her next thought was that he was altogether too close, but it was far too late for that as he leaned down and kissed her, the rain dripping onto her face, and his arm coming around and holding her tight.
He never really developed a taste for tea. He tried to hide it from her – but she had tried coffee and felt the same way, so they stood firm in their respective choices. He would sit on the kitchen counter, drinking his coffee and reading the paper, and she would be in an armchair, aimlessly trying to find her teacup from behind a book.
She knew he wouldn’t stay long – his uniform said that alone – but as the days and months passed, she grew more relaxed: surely he wouldn’t leave now, in the springtime.
to be continued, or what have you...
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