Friday, 6 May 2011
Author Spotlight week -Excerpt from Blitz
Enjoy this excerpt from "Blitz." Thanks Sue for being in the spotlight this week!
"What's the matter, love?"
For a moment Velma didn't speak. If she didn't talk about Jack leaving, maybe it wouldn't be true. Then the thought of the lonely months ahead overwhelmed her.
"Everything. Oh Gladdie, Jack's had to go back to camp. I don't know when I'll see him again."
"I'm so sorry, Velma." Gladdie sat beside her and put her arm around Velma's shoulders. "This doesn't mean the end of things, does it?"
"No. He's promised to write and asked me to write to him. He's going to tell his mother about me and arrange for me to visit her when Florence goes with her family. If we can work it, he'll be there at the same time. It's not far from Aldershot to Hayling Island so we'll have more time together."
"Well, that's good news isn't it? Come on Velma, chin up. Even though you've only known him a few days, Jack seems to be serious about you. How do you feel about him?"
"Oh, Gladdie. I love him. I didn't know I could possibly feel like this. Every time I see him it's like someone has let off fireworks. When he touches me my legs start to tremble and my insides feel like a volcano's erupting." Velma flushed as she confessed her feelings to her friend.
"Sounds like you've got it bad." Gladdie grinned. "I guess so." "Cheer up. It might not be too long before you see him again. I'd find out all you can about his mother from Florence. What she likes and dislikes, that type of thing. You need to be prepared in case she gets funny about her youngest son finding a woman to love."
Velma saw the wisdom of Gladdie's words. She should tell the truth as much as possible so she visited Florence on her way home from work.
"I hear you're not well and want help with Sam," she said with a weak grin as she walked into her sister's kitchen. "So what seems to be the problem?"
"You and Jack will get me in hot water making me part of your lies," Florence scolded. "Remind me to thank Mrs. Harris for her kindness next time I see her. Did Jack get off all right?"
"I think so." Velma ducked her head and took a deep breath. "Florence, I need your help."
"What, again? What is it now?"
"Jack says he's going to tell his mother about me and then he wants me to go with you, George and Sam next time you visit her. He's going to arrange for leave at the same time."
"That's right. He mentioned it to me. I think it's a wonderful idea. Does this mean youand I will be sisters and sister-in-laws?" "I hope so, but it will be sometime in the future. Jack and I have to get to know one another properly first." Despite her unhappiness, a surge of excitement raced through her at the thought of spending her future with Jack.
"I don't see how you need my help with any of that. You and Jack seem to have it all worked out."
"Except I have to meet a woman I don't know, who will probably think I'm not good enough for her son. I want you to tell me all about his mother and the rest of the family."
Florence's laugh rang through the kitchen. George came through the door from the hallway and looked questioningly at his wife.
"Oh, George. Listen to this." Florence completely ignored Velma's frantic hand signals to be quiet. "Velma is worried about meeting your mother. She thinks Ma will think she's not good enough for Jack."
"Now, Florence, it's not nice to laugh at Velma. She probably doesn't remember my mother." He turned to face his sister-in-law. "Don't you worry about a thing Velma. Ma will love you. All she's concerned about is seeing her children lead happy lives. You could be a hunchback with a squint and it wouldn't matter. She'll be so pleased Jack's found someone to love, she'll love you for his sake."
Velma still couldn't convince herself Jack's mother would like her.
Over the next few weeks she made Florence tell her everything she could remember about the elder Mrs. Stanley. Eventually Florence called a halt to the questions.
"Enough, Velma. You're working yourself into a state about meeting Ma. She's a lovely woman. Now stop pestering me with all these questions, I'm not going to answer any more."
Over the following months letters from Jack came frequently. Velma treasured each one, putting them away in a wooden jewellery box she'd received on her last birthday. She replied with equal fervour. And then the letters stopped.
At first she told herself he'd been too busy to write. Everyone talked about the European situation and no doubt the armed forces were preparing for the inevitable. Unsure of the reason for Jack's silence, Velma waited several days then wrote one more letter to him. Days passed and she still didn't hear from him.
"Velma, whatever's the matter with you?" Gladdie sounded exasperated. "You're forever snapping my head off. You're so moody nowadays."
"I am not moody," Velma stated tersely. "You're just being oversensitive."
"You're doing it now." Gladdie looked suspiciously at her. The two women were in Central Park. The ocean of green grass provided a pleasant place for a Sunday afternoon walk in the sun. They'd stopped for a rest and were sitting on a grassy mound enjoying the sunshine.
"It's Jack isn't it? What's he done -- or not done?" Tears sprang to Velma's eyes and Gladdie put her arm around her. "Don't cry. It can't be that bad. What's wrong?"
"He hasn't written to me for over a week now Gladdie. He's changed his mind about me, I know he has." Now the words had been spoken at last, Velma allowed the tears to flow.
Gladdie pulled her close and patted her back until the sobs subsided to hiccups. "Silly goose." Her friend offered a clean handkerchief. "It's more likely he's busy and doesn't realise how long it is since he wrote." Velma blew her nose and then shook her head. She leaned forward and hugged her knees.
"I knew things were too good to be true when I met him. As soon as I saw him I knew he and I were meant to be together." Velma sniffed and dabbed at her wet eyes. "When he said he wanted to marry me I couldn't believe the man I loved had the same feelings for me. He's had second thoughts now, I know it."