When the Bombs Start Falling

World War 2 was time of Grief and Sorrow and I tell you a story of two sisters, Molly and Laura Wright who find that through this they can find something else...

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13. The Lonely House

They came to humble 2 bedroom semi detached house a few streets away. It was one of 5 houses left in a street that looked like once upon a time it had 30 maybe more. Peter fumbled for his keys, unlocked the door and led them inside. Laura entered a small, dimly lit hallway. There were steps going upstairs on the right and two doors that led to the living room and a kitchen downstairs.  Peter headed straight upstairs with Molly, Laura followed. He opened the door to a bedroom with two small single beds, two identical wardrobes and a set of draws. The room clearly showed that boys had accommodated it before. The bed sheets had dinosaur prints and the walls were painted a vivid blue.

“I know this isn’t really suited for two girls but...” his voice trailed off.

“It’s perfect. Thank you so much Peter. This means a lot to us.” Laura watched as Peter layed Molly on the bed. They both went downstairs.

“Go make yourself comfortable in the lounge I’ll get you a drink. What would you like?”

Just water thanks.” He nodded then left. Laura entered the lounge and gazed around the room. It was cosy and pictures of the family were hanging all across the walls. There were two arm chairs and a small two-seater sofa each in a light shade of blue. Looking at the photos, Laura felt a mix of emotions. There were a lot of pictures of the family on the beach or in the park. They looked like a really happy family. There were especially a lot of pictures of the mother by herself. Peter obviously cared for her a lot. She must be a great wife and mother, wandered Laura. She felt a pang in her chest at the word mother. The news of her mother’s death had been put slightly to one side recently and as it came back to her the horrible feelings of remorse crept back into her heart. She sighed. These pictures on the wall were never going to be ones she would experience. Her father had died in action, 1940. Laura had only been 8 at the time but she could remember that it was on the day of her birthday party and how her mother had gone to answer the door and when she returned she seemed normal but maybe a little stiff and quiet for a while then just burst into tears. Everyone had to be sent home. Her mother never really told her what had happened. She just said that her father wouldn’t ever be coming home and that he was now in a happy place. Her thoughts were simply how could he be in a happy place if it wasn’t with her, Molly or Mother? She felt, in a way, angry with him for not coming back. As she got older, she soon figured out what had happened. Then her mother died so now she and Molly were alone. She wandered if her mother was in a happy place. She did pray so. She had felt betrayed by her mother for sending her away but still she did want her to be peaceful. Laura shuddered. Even if her mother was going to be peaceful Laura wasn’t sure that she would ever be.

Laura looked around the room for somewhere to sit. Peter looked like he bought back his work with him; the room was covered in dust, including the chairs. However, one of the armchairs in the corner of the room was strangely spotless. She went to sit on it but as she just was about to take her seat she felt a vicious tug on her shoulder. She whipped around and was shocked to see Peter standing there gripping her arm so hard pain shot through it, his usually calm and gentle face was contorted with anger.

“Peter please let go of me. You’re hurting me!” Laura pleaded desperately trying to break free from is excruciating grip. He did as she said but pulled her away from the chair and across to the door then suddenly slapped her across the face. The shock of the slap sent Laura to the ground. She whimpered in pain and fear and she felt her cheek throb.

“How dare you! I bring you into my house out of the kindness of my heart and you repay me by this. Don’t you ever do that again!” he spat the words out. Laura was bewildered.

“Peter I don’t know what I did. Please tell me what I have done wrong” she cried in despair. He seemed to ignore he words and instead, with a cold, stony voice pointed towards the door.

“I suggest you go to your room. Your sister needs you.” And with that he turned away from her and proceeded to straighten the armchairs cushions. Laura still shell shocked from the sudden change of behaviour stumbled out of the room and up the stairs, weeping all the way. She almost fell through the door to Molly’s side. She put her head in her arms and cried tears of pain and fear. Who was this man who at first seemed so kind and generous and then as quick as lightning he changed into a violent monster. All because she wanted to sit in a chair? Why did this matter to him so? Her thoughts were put aside when she heard the stirring of Molly. She lifted her head to see her sister’s eyes flickering and her fingers twitching. Overwhelmed with relief Laura smothered Molly in her embrace this time tears of joy spilling from her eyes.

“Oh Molly I’m so glad your okay! I thought I’d lost you!” She rose to look at her sister. Molly was by now attempting to sit up and looking around the room, clearly confused by the new surroundings.

“Where am I?” she murmured her eyes sweeping the room.

“One of the builders at the site let us stay in his children’s room while their in the country. Are you feeling alright?” Molly did not bother to answer the question but instead starting to fire questions at Laura rapidly.

“The building site? Are they still working on it? Or did they stop? Have they destroyed the house? Can we go there again now? Do we....” Laura stopped listening, feeling slightly wounded that Molly’s first question was not of concern to her health. She mentally shook herself. How could she be so selfish? The house meant a lot to Molly so why shouldn’t she enquire about it?

“Molly calm down. I stopped the workers from destroying the house and they’ve said they won’t start work again until we give permission.” Molly relaxed back on to the bed.

“So who is this builder?” Laura gulped; she wasn’t quite sure how to answer this. Did she say he was a kind man or a violent person?

“Laura wake up” Molly clicked her fingers in front of her face impatiently.

“Oh sorry, his name is Peter Rickshaw and he was the manager of the site.”

“What’s he like?” Laura shut and opened her mouth, not really quite sure how to answer. Molly’s face clouded over with concern.

“What is it Laura? Is he really mean?”

“No! Well yes...” Laura trailed off.

“What is it? What did he do?” Molly persisted still.

“It’s just he was really nice at first but then all of sudden when I went to sit down on a chair he grabbed me then slapped me round the face and told me I had done something disgraceful. The only problem is I don’t know what I did!” She hung her head after her speech. Molly fumed how dare this man hit her sister. Who did he think he was? Without really thinking she leapt out of bed. Wobbled as she got her feet again and stormed out of the bedroom and down the stairs, with Laura chasing her. She stalked up to Peter who sat at a table looking at something in his hand, stood in front of him and shouted,

“How dare you!” He simply looked her with no emotion and said

“You must be Laura’s sister. I never did learn you name.”

“It’s Molly. Molly Wright and I don’t appreciate you slapping my sister. Do you not have children of your own?” she cried.

“As a matter of fact I do. Two boys. Richard, who is 8 and Eric who is 12. Tell me Molly do you have a mother?” Molly winced but answered the question all the same.

“No, not anymore.”

“My sons don’t have a mother either. She died of pneumonia in 1937 when Richard was only a year old. Do you have an item that reminds you of your mother that you would protect with your life?”

 Molly fingered the bracelet she had which her mother had apparently given her at birth. It was a simple silver chain with blue and white flower jewels. That bracelet meant the world to her and she had once caught Laura trying it on. She had flown at her, kicking and scratching. She couldn’t bare anyone else touching it, especially now. She, of course, could not tell Peter all of this so instead just nodded.

“I see. Well my wife when we first married got a wedding present from her mother and father which was the arm chair you can see here.” He gestured towards the chair. “You see, the most unfortunate thing was that on the way back to their home from the wedding her parents were involved in a car crash and they both died. Since then my wife was obsessed with that chair. She protected it with her life and was constantly cleaning it. When she died I knew she wanted her chair to be safe and in a way when people sit on that chair I feel that they seem to mock my wife and the fact that she died. That is why I acted the way I did. I did not want to but you must understand that I had to” When he had finished he turned away and stared at the thing he had been looking at before. Cautiously Molly took a step forward and gazed at the object in Peter’s hand. It was a picture of what seemed to be his wife. Molly immediately noticed she was very beautiful. Even though the picture was in black and white she could see the women had long, thick hair and eyes that shined. She was tall and slim and her smile seemed to light up the picture.

“She’s very beautiful? What was her name?” he didn’t reply so she began to exit from the room but just as she went out of the door she heard

“Yes she is. I think the name is naturally beautiful. She was so beautiful that I came to believe anyone who should possess it was naturally brilliant.” He turned “Her name was Maria”

Molly went to climb the stairs again and found Laura sitting at the bottom of the stairs biting her nails. She crouched down beside her.

“You heard all of that?” In answer Laura nodded. Molly took her by the hand and led her up the stairs. When they got to the bedroom they both sat on their own beds and breathed a sigh of relief. Laura looked across to Molly, expecting to find a comforting smile but was instead greeted with nothing. Molly was staring into her lap, obviously in deep thought.

“Molly what is it?”

“I’m just thinking about tomorrow and the house.” The answer was vague and Laura wasn’t satisfied. She was tired of not knowing why this was all happening.

“Molly please tell me what is going on. I’m involved in this as much as you are.” She pleaded. Molly considered this for a minute or so before turning towards Laura with a grim face.

“Ok I’ll tell you but you have to keep it a secret Laura. Don’t tell anyone!” Laura nodded earnestly and leaned in with anticipation as the Molly began to tell the story. As the story went on Laura’s face changed from curious to horrified as she heard in depth the tales of those years ago...

That evening was something of a revolution for Laura as it seemed that everything that she thought she had understood had been scrubbed out and replaced. Dinner was given to them on trays. It was simple enough. Beans on toast with a glass of water. Peter had become really quite subdued and had not spoken to either of the girls since the incident earlier on with Molly. It seemed that whenever the subject of his wife came into question he became a different person. The bright and cheerful man who had been extremely kind to the two girls was taken away and replaced by what seemed to only be a shadow of Peter’s former self. Laura realised that everything that had given her hope or happiness was being taken away and in some ways stolen by the fact that her granddads diary. How could such a small, insignificant item change so much of one person’s life? Whatever the reason, Laura knew it was very important that they found this diary as soon as they could.

When the next morning arrived, although still shaky from her accident, Molly was eager to leave as soon as possible and what urging Laura to hurry. Peter served them a simple bowl of Bran Flakes, but just as they were about to leave Peter called them back again and said in a solemn voice,

“Girls, I have been as considerate as I can be and have considered the fact that whatever reason your late mother put the warrant on the house for was relevant and a perfectly good reason to keep the wreckage as it is. However that house is needed and I really need to know the reason why you are about to enter a falling down house that at first appearance is no value to yourselves.” The sisters gave each other a knowing look. Laura nodded; Molly turned towards Peter and started to explain.

“In the first Great War our Granddad after being sent home from service with injuries was trapped in his house for weeks on end. In this time it was found that he wrote a diary and inside this diary there is an important piece of information we need to uncover. The task to do this was originally given to my mother when my Grandfather was on his death bed after the dust of the wreckage had damaged his lungs but unfortunately she was unable to complete the task. Laura and I are going to find the diary and unearth this important piece of information. We know it is somewhere in the ruins of that house and we that is why it needs to be kept as it is until we find the diary that our Granddad wishes us to find.” Peter was surprisingly calm throughout the speech and said in a gentle voice so quiet it was almost a whisper,

“I will ask only one question. What is this piece of information that you need to find so desperately.” Molly bowed her head,

“Unfortunately Peter, you asked the one question I cannot answer.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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