Me & Lou

Lou is very imaginative- and also kind, caring and helpful. And when she gets packed off to the countryside during the war, she finds that those qualities are important. But can she keep up the soft approach, even when panic, trouble and worry hits?

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1. The Worst Night

I jumped up. It was dark, cold and wet outside, but it couldn't stop me. I stuffed my bony feet into my wellingtons, ran down the stairs, and out of the door. To the street air raid shelter. 

"Run, Lou!" Mother screamed. "Quickly!" I DID run. As fast as my legs could carry me. My hair was in my eyes but I kept going. I ran down the shelter steps, Mother behind me. I collapsed on the floor, panting.

"There now," A kind, gentle lady brushed my hair out of my eyes and put a chunky, knitted jumper around my shoulders. "You've made it. The sun will still come up tomorrow,"

"Not for bloomin' some," Mother said, "We'll be lucky, too!" The woman shot Mother a look. I put my head on her lap and closed my eyes, pretending that I was a child again. I imagined me running in the fields like I used to; eating picnics and playing dollies. But that was when I was four years old- a whole ten years ago. And in that ten years, I'd lost Father.

He'd gone to fight in the war. He was very, very brave, promising he'd come back. But he didn't. One day we got delivered an envelope, saying that  he'd passed. It was the worst afternoon of my life. No, the worst DAY, in fact. But this was the worst night. I could hear sirens above,and I was convinced that a bomb was going to drop right above our heads. The kind lady patted my back. 

"What's your name, treasure?" I thought. Lou isn't my REAL name- it's Lucy. But once, when I was about six or so, Father took Mother and I to his workplace dance. He worked in a giant factory, but one of the staff rooms had been transformed into a mini- ballroom. Fairy lights were strung all around the room, and on a pine wooden table, there was red wine and fruit juice and water, along with iced buns and scones and cakes and pies and even pasta in a big bowl. Father had lead me onto the dance floor and we'd done our favourite dance- me walking on his feet, walking backwards and forwards. One of his work friends had walked up to us. 

"Ah, is this your little one, Johnny?" he said. "Oh, isn't she the cutest thing? Lucy, ain't it? You ought to call her Lou!" And they did. 

"It's, um, Lou," I explained to the lady now. "But my real name is Lucy," The lady smiled and squeezed my hand.

Lou! What a very pretty name. Lucy is lovely, too. But Lou is a kid-name. Kid-names are more fun," she said softly. Just then, we heard a bell ring. The all clear. We all cheered and walked up the stairs. A lot of houses were still up, but most of them had been bombed slightly. Luckily, our house was still standing, clean and proud. But the street next to us had been a bit, well, it had been better. We walked back inside, and I crept into bed. But it was too scary to sleep. I was fully expecting the siren to go off again, but at one point, I must have drifted off to sleep. 

I woke up the next day to see Mother running about my bedroom, scooping up and comparing dresses and getting together some photographs.

"Mother," I asked, "Why on Earth are you running around like a chicken with no head?" Then I saw the suitcase.

"Because," she said, "You're going to be sent to the country." 

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