Shelter

Mary is young woman left without her husband during the First World War. This is her story.
Any form of constructive criticism here is great guys, I haven't written anything in a long time and I'm sure I'm more than a little rusty! Mostly I'm looking for any historical inaccuracies you may notice, cos I suck at that stuff.

Often when times were trying, Mary would sit quietly for a moment, and recall her wedding day. If the children were refusing to be civil to one another, she would think of the small details, like the creases at the corner of George’s eyes as he gazed at her and her dress for the first time. If they were hunkered down in the shelter for what felt like years whilst there was a barrage of shells bombarding them from above, she would think of the cherry blossom on the trees in the garden of the church, caught upon the breeze and settling on the ground before her feet. She had never felt more beautiful or more loved than on that day, and sometimes she wondered if she would ever feel that way again.

Tonight was one of those nights. It was cold, having used the last of the paraffin in an attempt at preventing the children from losing one of their tiny fingers to frostbite. Their teeth were beginning to chatter so hard Mary wondered if they might accidentally bite their own tongues off. Daisy had recently developed a nasty cough too, so Mary had chosen to offer them something of warmth, at least for a short while. Thankfully they were both asleep now, though how they managed to sleep soundly throughout the shuddering of the bombs she would never know. Perhaps it was because they had never really had the opportunity to sleep through any form of peacetime. They were almost four now, and having lived their lives in country that had always been at war meant they didn’t know, hope, or expect anything better. Sometimes, Mary felt the same way.

They were sharing the bomb shelter with two of their neighbours tonight. Usually there were three, but the older couple were conspicuous by their absence. She sent a short prayer for their safety, but nothing was guaranteed and in all honesty she was glad of the extra leg room. Still, the Jones’ and their tribe were all snoring softly in their own corner; another family blessed with the ability to sleep through almost anything. Mrs Mayhew, a widow who had already lost two of her four adult children to the war effort, sat darning a worn pair of socks in the corner closest to the door. Recently she had had very little of worth to contribute to any conversation. She sent a longer prayer to Mrs Mayhew’s remaining two children, and settled in to write another letter to George that she felt sure he would never receive.

When war was declared against Germany, and George had first left for the front, Mary had found almost every day to be a trying one. During this time there had been a lot of reminiscing about her wedding day. Before the war, her life had been going totally as planned. She was married to a fine gentleman, who made a good living at the bookstore he owned, and she was preparing to go back to work as a midwife, after just having two children of her own; twins. This was in 1912, when, looking back, she should have known something bad was going to happen because everything was going just a little too well.

Writing to George had helped her somewhat in dealing with the things she saw each day at the hospital. She knew they were censoring letters coming in and out of the country so that soldiers and their loved ones didn’t ruin the illusions that were printed daily in the newspapers. If those pieces of rubbish were to be believed, Britain was winning the war, giving the Germans everything they deserved and more. Yet more young men were heading across the Channel and fewer were returning home. People didn’t really talk about this obvious discrepancy; optimism was balancing on a knife’s point and, two years into the war, voicing any such concerns would shatter any sort of illusion that there ever could be a winner in what was clearly becoming the destruction of a generation.

She squeezed her eyes shut and gritted her teeth as a bomb detonated nearby, showering them with dust and who knew what else. A couple of the Jones’ smaller children shifted uncomfortably under their blankets, whimpering quietly. Their mother placed a reassuring arm around the youngest, hugging the child close. Mary watched her own children just in case they needed her but, as usual, Daisy and Eli were sleeping as soundly as if they were in their own beds. She had the sudden urge to reach out to them, brush the loose hairs back from their heads and pushed herself up from the cold of the concrete floor.

A bomb exploded right above her head. The noise was like nothing she had ever experienced in her life, sending shockwaves through her bones with enough force she felt sure she would shatter into a million pieces. There was enough time to open her mouth and shout the twin’s names before the world disappeared from beneath her. 

The End

13 comments about this story Feed