After the war is over

11Aug12

I Know Where I'm GoingAuthors note: Poetic licence has been taken with the extent of the content and frequency of correspondence between PoWs and their families. It also important to remember that this is an entertainment and no disrespect is intended to the Allied soldiers of the Second World War, their families, Blitzed Londoners or the people of Putney who suffered particular heavy air raids during August 1943.

 

The letters had come so infrequently, both hers to him and more especially his to her.

Before the war their marriage had been rocky enough and she often thought that had he not been taken prisoner after Dunkirk then they might have divorced. As it was, when she heard he was a prisoner she was crushed with guilt. Guilt not only that he would not be coming home, but an overriding guilt at the realisation that part of her had perhaps secretly wished he could have died and spared her the uncertainty of their marriage and the shame of a divorce.

When the bombs had fallen on Putney she had refused to go to the shelter or even take cover. If the bombs came then her pain could yet be ended. After all, if he could die, then why not her.

That night had been the longest of her life. She had only been 28, but ever afterwards she attributed the hint of grey behind her ears as directed consequence of the fear.

The next day she had applied for war work and had been posted to the Midlands and away from London in less than three weeks.

The first letter had been a shock. It was brim-full of missing her and words of love that he had never been able to say to her face. Even before the tears had dried at her eyes she had screwed up the letter and tossed aside. The guilt had come too thick and fast for her then.

Only later did she retrieve it to read and re-read it again and again.

She heard from his regiment that he had volunteered for the rear guard so that his comrades could escape on the beaches. In her heart she knew that he too had strived, like her, not to return.

Her reply had been an outpouring, not of her guilt or her despair, but of the life they would have when he came home. It was the least she could do, she knew it.

At first their words had been inconsequential.

“Darling, the blossom is on the cherry trees,” or “It is not so bad here. I hear they have it much, much worse back in Putney. At least we have enough to eat.”

Then as he confided in her and spoke of the children he wished they had had, she found herself responding in kind.

“That night in Putney was my last. No truly. I knew even if I lived that I would never be the same again.”

At first he did not fully understand her words, but as time went, even though often weeks passed without a missive, he began to piece together the story of her secret guilt and what amounted to her attempt suicide.

“You silly fool,” he wrote, “What is the point of even fighting this war when so many die if you stage such a reckless stunt? Grandstanding as usual. I bet you think you wanted to die. Well not a bit of it. Not the girl I used to know. Always the centre of attention, always having to take the woes of the world on your shoulder. Well it takes two to tango, just as it takes two to have a war, just you wait until after the war is over.”

She laughed when she read it. He had never been a great writer. She wrote back.

“It’s weight of the world, not woe. Who ever heard of woe on one’s shoulder? As for the guilt, well you didn’t wish me away as I did you. You gave up everything to keep us in the war and I did nothing; nothing but pack bullets in stupid boxes. And I only did that after Putney.”

She didn’t hear from him for a long time after that. So long, in fact, that she began to think he had either been too angry or had died. The last thought made her feel sick.

Then one day there was a postwoman waiting on her step. Her stomach turned knots and her knees gave way a little.

“You, you have a telegram?”

“Telegram? No madam, that’s not my department. No I have a bundle of letters. Wouldn’t go through the box see, I thought… well I didn’t want them to go astray what with being… well you know.”

The grey blackening world fell away from her and somewhere a bird sang. Or was it just a cawing crow?

“Thank you,” she managed, taking the bundle.

She had shared a room with a fellow worker on the first floor. She never made it before the first letter was open and then she sat halfway up the stairs devouring each of his misspelled masterpieces over and over.

“Where do I begin, you silly little fool,” he had written in what she took to be the first in the series. “Firstly, bullets is good work. We won’t see off old Adolf without them. Second. Well, stop putting yourself down. This war has made a muck of everything. Stop trying to take all the blame. Anyone would think you were half important. Well, you are see? Important to me. I have a bloody good mind to get out of this hole and come over there and spank the living daylights out of you until you couldn’t sit down for a month. As it is, I think I will anyway once we see off these… perishing blighters.”

The spanking threat had sent her giddy. It made it real somehow, like he cared.

She wrote back, “You couldn’t make your way out of a paper bag, but if you did, then I wouldn’t mind what you did. You could spank me for a whole month if you wanted. Only don’t try to escape. Not for anything. Stay there safe and wait until after the war is over.”

She got just one more letter before Monty landed in Normandy. After that the mail went astray as the British and Canadians pushed north under the British hero and the Americans east.

Among many, many other things he wrote: “I can see I need to take a firm hand with you girl. Just you wait until I get home.”

The days wore on and 1944 turned into 1945. Everywhere there were rumours. Some said the Nazi’s were shooting their prisoners and others that many had been liberated and the rescued troops mobilised back into the army.

That would be just like him to go and volunteer, the bloody hero, she thought.

VE Day came and went and her job came to an end. It was strange to return to Putney, but the house was still there, even if it were occupied by a lot of strangers. The empty house had been temporarily commandeered for emergency housing. Nevertheless, she managed to get a room in her own house and after a few weeks the family that had been occupying the rest of the upstairs moved out leaving her with just one formerly homeless family downstairs.

May gave way to June and then July. The summer made no impact on her mood and she felt as if she were just marking time as day followed day. They were well into August when one day she was scrubbing the front step when she got a strange feeling. It was a feeling that grew until she remembered that night in the Blitz and knew that somehow her life would never be the same.

What made her look up just at that moment she would never recall, but coming up the street a long way away was a soldier. There was something familiar about his gait and the sway of his broad shoulders, but for a moment she felt a disconnect that one often has at such times. Then before she even knew why, she was running.

At first the soldier didn’t react then he paused and dropped his bag and took two great strides towards her as he swept her up in his arms.

*

They had walked arm in arm up the street, although to her it felt that he had carried her weight as she leaned into him. But it was not a feeling that was to last. Once they were back indoors and had exchanged more rational greetings a silence fell and for her the guilt returned with the awkwardness. The only sound was the persistent tick of the clock, which taunted them like an unexploded bomb.

He was thinner, but taller somehow and she wondered if he had outgrown her.

“You look well,” she said.

“I could murder a pint and a pork pie,” he said cheerily, but it sounded like something he was expected to say.

“The ration doesn’t run to pork pies this week, but there might be one to be had at the pub. You’ll get a pint anyway.” It was painfully mundane, but then what had she expected.

“Talking of which,” he said unbuttoning his top pocket, “Here.”

He handed her his ration book.

“Gave it to me at the repatriation station,” he snorted, “I hardly know what to do with it.”

She nodded and took it from him.

“I wonder how long we’ll have to use these things,” she said.

He shrugged. “Maybe once we’ve beaten the Japs.”

“I heard they have it bad in Germany,” she said.

He nodded. Then he said, “Anyway, never mind the bloody Krauts, Jerry can take care of himself now that those crackpots have gone. I hope they string ‘em up.”

“Shush, let’s not…”

“Quiet woman, I’m talking,” he growled

She pursed her lips and fell silent. His anger was thrilling somehow.

“I believe we have some unfinished business.” His words made the hairs on her neck stand up and she felt a little light-headed.

It was stupid, but she knew he was talking about something else, but only one thing flooded her mind right then.

“You’ve been a silly girl, haven’t you?” His voice was firm, but kindly. “What did I say I’d do after the war was over?”

She opened her mouth to speak. Surely he didn’t want to say the words. She blushed. That would be so humiliating. But the very idea thrilled her.

Mercifully he didn’t wait. He took one great stride towards her and closed the chasm that had opened up between them at a bound. Then he half-carried and half-led her to the settee and sat down, tossing her casually across his knees as he did so.

“Darling,” she whispered.

He struck her firm war-honed bottom hard with his great right arm and she gasped. If he had thought she would break, he was wrong; she merely wriggled under the sting and waited.

Seeing her compliance, he set about spanking her as Clark Cable should have spanked Scarlet, as Bogey might have spanked Bacall.

He spanked her until she lay panting and his hand hurt. He let it rest against her bottom so that it throbbed in time to her throbbing.

“I expect I’ll be able to sit down in a day or two,” she whispered.

“I didn’t hit you that hard,” he growled.

“That’s my point,” she chided.

“Take me to bed,” she sighed. “Then you can really sort me out. After all there really shouldn’t be anything between a man and a wife, especially not a stupid skirt and knickers.”

He gave her a hard stare, but it soon softened and then because she had said it, he stripped her there and not in the bedroom and began spanking her again on her bare bottom until she could no longer hold her peace and began to cry.

“I think maybe we need one of those instalment plans to get this done,” he said as he pulled her to him.

“That could take years,” she sobbed, crushing into him.

“I think we have time,” he said kissing her. “Now that war is over.”

Pedantically she thought of the Japs, but she knew he wasn’t talking about that war.

Ends.



8 Responses to “After the war is over”

  1. 1 Old Tom

    An excellent story and a real issue in fact. Adjusting to the reappearance of your man after a long gap wasn’t easy.

  2. 2 paul1510

    Damian,
    I wonder how many returning men had to deal with their wives in this manner. 😦
    A lovely story, I remember this time all too well, you caught the atmosphere just right.
    Anything that you write in this vein I will read with relish, and mustard. 😀
    Paul.

  3. I loved this.

  4. Really nice, DJ. You captured the emotions of the characters and it made for a very touching story.

  5. 5 allie

    Sweet story!

  6. 6 Ncman

    More!!!!

  7. 7 DJ

    Glad you all liked it. A little bit off piste for me – but maybe it worked. 🙂

  8. Yes, war time London, was not a picnic. And if a female be she young or old did not comply with the rules and regulations from the authorities, she soon fond her knicker’s down around her ankles, and a pliable stinging cane, caressing her naked rear end most painfully. Especially in the WACS. WRENS, or WAAFS.


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