Me, Evacuee (Historical Fiction Competition)

It is September 1st 1939 and World War Two has begun.
Jimmie is only ten years old and yet he is thrown into an unexpected situation which forces him to grow up much faster than he should. There is a call for children living in the cities to evacuate to the countryside and soon Jimmie finds himself all alone on a train to Devon and to an unknown world that is very unlike his own. However, when all seems on the upturn everything gets worse, as his father is sent to the battlefield, leaving his elder sister, his mother and her expected baby to abandon their home in Coventry and move to Cornwall. Jimmie finds it hard to keep track of his family's safety and under these hard circumstances he grabs onto the only links he has with home, while making friends with the unlikeliest of people.
Evacuation isn't as Jimmie expected. Will he make it through? Will his friends and family?

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11. Bending the Truth

Bending the Truth

Jimmie

                The two of us were relieved when the bell rang for the end of the day. We practically ran out of the school gates and into the protection of Mr Jim. I hugged him and squeezed him tight; I never wanted to walk through those gates again. I felt Mr Jim pause beneath my grip. I looked up at his face.

                Mr Jim prised my hands off of him and walked forward to kneel before Tommy. “Where did you get that?” Mr Jim asked, lightly rubbing a thumb over the large bruise on Tommy’s cheek bone. He winced a little and Mr Jim withdrew his hand. “Who gave that to you?”

                Tommy swallowed and with one eye, half closed looked up at Big Jim and said, “The bullies, they punched me.”

                “Why?”

                “Mr Jim, the bully from my old school is in my new class and he stole my cap, so I told Tommy and he stole it back off them and they punched him,” I explained. Mr Jim scowled and stood up.

                “Come on then you two. Let’s go home before there is any more trouble.” So we walked home and all the way back I couldn’t help but turn back to check that the bullies weren’t stalking us.

                When we walked through the door, Tommy sat on the sofa and Mr Jim went to make us some food. Tommy sat on the armchair beside the fire, struggling to read Swallows and Amazons through his sore eye. I joined him after hanging up my coat and my hat and running upstairs to collect Treasure Island and my sweets.

                When I entered the living room, I skipped over to the fireplace and turned on the wireless which sat upon the mantelpiece. It would be a few hours yet until Children’s hour was on. The two of us read in silence. We’d rather not talk in case it reminded us of school. It was sad to think that we had made enemies and it was only the first day. There was still a whole week ahead of us and then there was however long after that until the world war finished, but that should only be until roughly Christmas, that’s what everybody says.

*

                We had just finished dinner and all four of us were now relaxing in front of the fire, its licking tongues casting an orange glow around the living room.

                Tommy was sitting in his favourite red seat, as usual. Mr Jim was reading the newspaper and was occasionally pointing interesting articles out to Mrs Elsie who was perched next to him on the sofa, a large, yellow bundle of wool sitting in her lap as she knitted Tommy his jumper. It was a fair bit bigger than my green one, which I was wearing now.

                I was lying on my front upon the soft carpet, my paper bag of sweets sitting on the floor beside a roll of parchment which had a couple of lines of my handwriting scrawled across it. A fountain pen was held in my right hand and my legs waved about in the air as I sucked on a rosy apple, pondering what to write next.

                I was writing a letter to my family at home, as I was eager to be reminded, if only a little, of home, since I missed it already. So far it said:

 

Dear Mother, Father and Sara,

                I am missing all of you terribly although I have made good friends here and I am enjoying myself. I hope all of you are safe and well.

 

                I didn’t want it to sound as if my school life was hell, even though it was. I didn’t want to worry them too much so I tried to make the bad things seem good and I bent the truth a little on some facts. I left other facts out. What they didn’t know wouldn’t hurt them. It took me a lot of thought to write and that was why it was taking me so long.

 

                I have made a new friend, he is called Tommy and he’s great fun!  We met on the train. I have also made new friends at school and someone in my class is an old friend from school. I do miss Peter awfully though, could you please tell him I wish he was here?

                How is school Sara? Mother, how is the shop? Father, I hope now because of the war you are not at work for so long anymore. Please tell me all details. Is life at home as it was, or has much changed?

                I’m safe out here in Oakhampton and I hope you’re safe back home in Coventry. I’m sure that all of the fuss is over nothing; I doubt any bombs shall be falling. Who could be so heartless? I promise that I am being such a good boy, Mother. The countryside is wonderful; I think we should move here permanently. The air is wonderful and fresh.

                My new family are wonderful! Mr Jim and Mrs Elsie are lovely despite being old and frail. They do care for me and Tommy so much. Mrs Elsie has knitted me such a warm, green sweater (I don’t like to take it off). Mr Jim has bought me new clothes and a lovely new book it’s called ‘Treasure Island’. Mr Jim has also bought me a bag of sweets! I shall savour them because they are so wonderful. Right now, I am eating a liquorice.

                I wish all of you were here. Please write me back, I am desperate for some news!

Love you all most dearly,

Jimmie

              

                Yes, that should do. I replaced the lid upon the pen and pushed myself up. I took the envelope that Mr Jim had given me, folded the letter up and then placed it into the envelope. I sealed it then turned it over.

 

Mother, Father, Sara

7 Northover Street, Coventry

 

                I finished writing the address upon the envelope. I stood up.

                “Finished?” Mr Jim asked me, looking up from his paper. I nodded and he reached out a hand for the envelope. I handed it to him. When me and Tommy were at school the next day Mr Jim would get stamps and would send it off.

                “Right. Off to bed then, I suppose, chaps,” Mr Jim said, folding up his newspaper. Tommy shut Swallows and Amazons and rose form his chair. Tommy and me miserably walked upstairs to our bedroom. The thought of another day of school tomorrow wasn’t much for us to look forward to. In fact, it made us completely miserable.

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