By Connie Hatt

I burst into the kitchen, my shoes and the hem of my gingham skirt caked in mud. I heard a faint sniff as my mother turned her tear stained face toward me. “Molly where have you been? You had me worried sick. Now clean those shoes immediately, they’re filthy. And stop using so much shoe polish that tin cost me a whole ration card.”

I stood meekly beside the muddy floor, my mouth firmly glued shut. Nervous that if I uttered a word to contradict her she would collapse into tears. I silently retreated in to the hall and up to my room to ponder what had caused a strong woman like my mother to cry so easily.

A few hours later she called me to the kitchen where I saw her silently stirring a cup of stewed tea with a tired expression on her face. She seemed so fragile as though the slightest unkind word would break her. I ran to comfort her, she gently pushed me away and handed me a letter. I recognized my father’s handwriting. I read it through, intently absorbing each word; I could imagine the slight upward crease of my father’s mouth each time he smiled and the glint in his eye when he laughed. “What is it? This is just like every other let…?” I didn’t finish for at that moment I saw in my mother’s hand a crumpled telegram. Every child knew what that meant.

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