The eve of Remembrance Day


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1. The eve of 11.11.1918

It was cold that night and I wandered how much longer it would take them to get back. It had been three hours already and the light faded more than two hours ago. I didn’t care for the rations they had gone to collect, not at this time in the day. My little heart was beating fast, their absence made me nervous. It was usually around the fourth hour of darkness in the winter that the air raid alarm would go. As soon as those far too familiar sirens sounded, a sense of dread encompassed me. Where were they?

 

I must have dosed off. My mother and my older brother were still not back. Being 12 I was never allowed to go out for the evening rations. I couldn’t keep up, and often got lost in the crowd, so instead I was left in the shelter at the end of our north London garden.

It was late in to the night now, fortunately this evening there had been no sirens. My mother and brother been back for an hour. I was so cross with them, but the only reason I was cross was because I had been scared and worried that something had happened to them. They said that the night was so calm. The cloud cover had made it a little warmer, and for the first time in so long, all seemed well. My mother describe how Big Ben struck ten, and it was heard across all London and only then did she realise how far she had been wondering with my brother. She had lost track of time, place, just walking through London on this calm eve. She said she couldn’t put her finger on it, why on this night had she felt safer compared to other nights? I sat on her lap, and tried to make myself comfortable on her now much slimmer thighs. The war had taken a tole on my mother. My father lost his life so early on in the war, and she had been heart broken since. She took to giving my brother and I most of her rations and as a result she had lost her slightly plum physic that suited her so well.

 

I dosed off as she stroked my head and played with my hair, her serene presence calming my nerves from earlier that night.

11.11.1918

The sun eventually burnt through the fog, late in the morning. I left the shelter with my mother and my brother, off to collect the rations and then my mother would leave us to go work in the ward at the local hospital. Upon reaching the high street, it seemed as though there were so many people out today. Perhaps something had happened in the night, maybe not here in London, but perhaps overseas. We overheard a few conversations, and murmurs. ‘The war, last night, have you heard?!’. That morning, my mother, brother and I stood still, as one as we heard the news that the First World War was over. We had won. All thoughts stopped, time stood still, and all I remember was my hand being taken on my right by my brother, on my left by my mother, and my mother bending down, brushing the hair from my cheek, and she sighed a very quiet sigh. It was over.

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