This is the sixth of 26 short stories – 250 words or fewer - about Alice’s life and times.
F is for Foreboding
There had been rumblings and rumours for months but most people hoped and prayed that Chamberlain’s 1938 declaration of ‘peace for our time’ would hold true. As 1939 wore on and international peace looked ever more vulnerable Alice’s father and brothers shook their heads and tried to remain optimistic. On September 3rd they huddled round the wireless as Neville Chamberlain announced ‘this country is at war with Germany.’
In the days that followed Alice heard her parents talking about men being ‘called up’ and asked Daniel to explain. She looked thoughtful. ‘You and Dad and Charles and Edward?’ she asked.
‘Not Dad. He’s a policeman – he’s needed at home. Not Charles - he’s still at university. Edward’s too young. I’ll be called up, but probably not yet.’
Alice was reassured until a few weeks later when all three brothers told their startled parents that they had enlisted, Charles in the Royal Navy, Daniel and Edward in the Army. Daniel announced that he and Ruth were getting married immediately.
The wedding was a bittersweet affair. Two young people promising to remain together ‘till death do us part’ emphasised the fragility of a world at war. Nonetheless, the newlyweds were sent on their honeymoon with much laughter and good wishes. Alice was pleased that she now had a sister who would be living in her house. In time, she hoped, there would be babies.
All too soon, her brothers left for their training establishments. The house felt shockingly empty and quiet.