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?


5. Mr Jim's House

Mr Jim’s House


                It was funny to think back to the event after everything had settled down. I don’t understand what caused Jimmie to act so childishly, oh well; it was a fun start to the day.

                Mrs Elsie and Mr Jim seem nice enough. They didn’t seem too strict either, which was a good thing, I suppose. I was glad that Jimmie had made a fuss because it meant that we were together again, but I thought him awful lucky that Mrs Elsie had agreed to having him. A kid who made a fuss wasn’t about to make a good impression. I guess it was down to his vulnerability. The image of the school mischief was quickly dissolving away in my mind; the whole idea was absurd.

                I had felt a little guilty at walking out on him, but I suppose that’s the difference between the two of us, Jimmie took all of his promises one hundred per cent seriously. The pact that the two of us had made meant that we would be friends in the afterlife to him. I smiled, he would soon grow up, I thought, but I suppose that made him a true friend and a reliable person to be around.

                As we walked down the road from the church, Jimmie skipped along in front, holding hands with Mr Jim. They were like grandfather and grandson already, Big Jim and Little Jim, the best of friends. That was the type of story usually present in fairy tales, not in real life.

                “Such a sweet boy,” Mrs Elsie said to me, watching Jimmie. “He seems so vulnerable. What is he? Your brother?” she asked me.

                I shook my head. “No. We met this morning,” I explained

                “Only a day?” Mrs Elsie exclaimed in surprise. “Yet he made such a fuss.”

                “Yes, well, we said we were friends.”

                “How old is he? Eight years? Nine?” she asked me

                I laughed. “No. He’s ten, only a year younger than me.” I explained, adjusting my grip on my parcel.

                “You’re eleven years old? You seem thirteen.” I smiled at her comment.

                “I get told that a lot.”

                “And you act so much older than your age. I thought you were a mature young man.” I blushed.

                “I suppose that I put it down to having two older sisters,” I said. “It causes you to grow up fast.” She laughed.

                “Yes, I can imagine…”

                We laughed, talked, and shared stories on the walk home, the sun beating down on us as we went, beautiful weather to lighten the mood. It seemed that the two elders had picked their favourites. Mrs Elsie talked to me as if I was much older and seemed to talk to Jimmie as if he was vulnerable, but he didn’t care, he had a right laugh with Mr Jim. The way the two acted gained them each the nicknames of Big Jim and Little Jim. The four of us went together like bread and butter. How they acted, you would forget they were in their late sixties; just their bodies were letting them down.

                We continued on down the road running alongside the church and finally we turned left and up a concrete pathway to a cream coloured house. We stepped inside and I stopped I awe of the hallway. It seemed so huge in comparison to my tiny, dirty home in Manchester. I heard William gasp beside me.

                He almost ran off, but Mr Jim grabbed him by the shoulder. “Hey, little Jimmie, aren’t you going to take off your shoes and why don’t you give me your jacket.” Jimmie pulled off his jacket and handed it to Mr Jim who hung it up on a peg. Mr Jim told Jimmie to leave his shoes by the door, so I did the same, hanging my coat up on the peg beside Jimmie’s.

                “I’m going up to bed, Jim,” she said to Mr Jim. “The old walk has tired me out.” Mr Jim helped Mrs Elsie to hobble up the stairs to their room after telling Jimmie and me to make ourselves comfortable and look around if we wished. He said he’d be down soon to cook us some food and show us to our rooms. We thanked him and began to look around.

                The stairs were on the left but we continued down the corridor and turned right, to find ourselves in a comfortable sitting room with two large windows facing out onto the street. A fire was smouldering in the grate and pictures were arranged along the mantel piece. We moved on.

                The next room on the right was the kitchen. Inside I saw a wood-burning stove and a gas cooker. There were also some cupboards hung up on the walls, but I didn’t look inside because I felt it rude. A door to another room led off from the kitchen and I peeked inside. A metal bath tub was in here as well as equipment for washing. I shut the door behind me and I continued on down the corridor.

                At the end was a small dining room with a door which led onto the garden with a shed at the end of the pathway. An Anderson shelter rose like a mound on the right hand side of the garden and vegetables were growing on top of it, like carrots and potatoes. My family in Manchester didn’t own an Anderson shelter so we just used public shelters if we had to.

                When me and Jimmie had finished nosing around on the ground floor, we made to go upstairs. We met Mr Jim on the way up and he said that he would show us to our room. He turned and went back upstairs, the pair of us trailing behind.

                When we reached the top of the stairs, we were facing our room. Jimmie and me excitedly peered inside. The room had a bed with a chamber pot beneath, a bookcase, drawers, a desk and a window along the wall, above the bed.

                “Are we sharing this room?” Jimmie asked. He didn’t sound disappointed, more as if he expected it. I wasn’t surprised, it was what he was used to I supposed.

                “Yes. Is that okay with the two of you?” he asked us.

                “Oh yes. That’s wonderful,” Jimmie exclaimed. “It’s just that there is only one bed,” said Jimmie, pointing out the obvious.

                Mr Jim smiled. “That’s because we only planned to keep one of you,” he explained. Jimmie blushed and uttered a word of apology. “That’s perfectly alright, Little Jim. We’ll just squeeze in another put up bed is all,” he said. We left our things on the bed.

                He showed us the rest of the upstairs, which included their bedroom, a small study and a storage cupboard.

                “Where’s the toilet?” Jimmie asked when we had finished. I smiled at his innocence. Mr Jim explained to him that the toilet was the hut outside in the garden. Jimmie wrinkled his nose at the sound of it. “I hate spiders,” he said.

                “Well, I’m sorry, but I we can’t help it,” Mr Jim said, laughing at the look on poor Jimmie’s face.

                “But what about in the night.”

                “That’s what the chamber pot under your bed is for.” Jimmie didn’t like the sound of that. “Come on,” Big Jim said. “Why don’t the two of you listen to the radio in front of the fire while I cook you tea?”

                “That sounds marvellous,” I said and we headed downstairs.

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