Victory

Morning all,

This piece started life as a point-of-view exercise in a writing class, but I think it works quite well when sewn together. Let me know what you think!

After finishing work at the hospital, I had rushed home to get changed, wheeling my bicycle through the throng of cheering people for fear of being knocked off accidentally. I had practically skipped up the stairs to my flat before slipping off my flat black shoes as I went through the front door. My fellow lodger wasn’t in. No-one was; they were all out on the streets. As I let my auburn hair down from a tight bun, I turned the wireless on and listened as it slowly sizzled into life. Loud as the radio was, it couldn’t drown out the noise of the crowd outside.

Three ‘o’ clock in the afternoon and Churchill’s voice crackled intermittently as I washed my face, his distinctive tone competing with the music and shouting coming in from the open window. Keen to join the celebrations, I put on some lipstick and slipped into my best dress.

The rumours had started yesterday but had seemed surreal. Today, though, there had been confirmation that It was over. After six years of fighting, it was over. Victory in Europe, they were calling it, and it felt fantastic. Not only would my brothers be coming home from the front, but it seemed as if the whole country could breathe again. No more bombs, no more grieving, no more ration books.

None of this mattered at that moment, though. This wasn’t a day for planning or looking forward. This was a day to enjoy, and I couldn’t wait to get out and join the crowds. I put on my highest pair of heels and headed back down the stairs. Opening the door, I rushed out to join the mass of people, a smile on my face.

***

You were dancing. Even amongst the multitude of people, the flags, the pennants, the ticker tape falling from the sky, and the red buses slowly pushing through the crowds, your auburn hair stood out. With Admiral Nelson looking on in admiration, you were spun from one pair of arms to another, never wanting for a partner.

Skirts flying behind you and smile across your face, the other revellers seemed to be there only to provide a backdrop to your dancing. The bells rang your name, the union jacks fluttered in flustered admiration. People hung from lampposts and lapped at the stone lions to better see you.

You would never have seen me if it weren’t for the fall. Why would you, a lone policeman, the only man in the square not able to dance with you? Why would you notice the staid, sombre constable amongst all the noise and colour around you? You were caught up in it. Caught up in the thrill of freedom. Caught up with possibilities that had seemed ridiculous in the dark days of 1940.

When you first tripped that’s all I thought it was – a stumble. You started to get up again, assisted by two or three men and doubtless determined to carry on being swung around. It was no good though. Your ankle wouldn’t bear any weight. Down you went again. You looked around for help and saw me wading through the crowds. You held your arms out to me when I reached you, your face a picture of embarrassment and pain.

***

She arrived home from hospital late. The blackout was still in operation and she stumbled on the uneven pavement. Her foot was in a cast – a small break, they had said. She would need to practise with the crutches. The sound of revellers was still audible in the night air, but quieter.

There was a figure sitting on the wall in front of her flat. She wasn’t scared though. She had thought that he might be there. He sat, stiff from the now-cold night and with his police helmet tucked under one arm. He hadn’t seen her yet.

‘Good evening,’ she said softly.

He started, jumping up to his feet and brushing his uniform down.

‘Evenin’,’ he replied. ‘Sorry. Just wanted to make sure you got home safe. I hope you don’t think it’s too forward.’

She shook her head, smiling.

‘Well,’ he said awkwardly. ‘I’d best be getting home. Up early in the mornin’ and all. Hope that ankle doesn’t take too long to heal.’

He put his helmet back on and walked awkwardly past her on the path. She turned suddenly.

‘Unless…’

‘Unless?’

‘Well,’ she said, looking at her feet and smiling. ‘The dancin’s still on at the square from what I hear, and I’ve got one good foot.’

‘Will you take my arm?’ he asked, smiling back.

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