The Impossible Art Of Soldiering On
Geraldine ran a finger round the stiff collar. The VAD uniform wasn’t made for comfort. She felt eyes on her and glanced at number fourteen. Mrs Ephram shuffled out of her door; she nodded as she realised Geraldine was looking. ‘First day?’
Geraldine lowered her gaze out of respect. Their Harry had taken a bullet at Ypres. ‘Yes, Mrs Ephram.’
‘Good.’ She patted her arm as she shuffled last.
Geraldine watched her go, physically broken but keeping on. How did she do it? She moved to one side, to avoid the horse droppings from the baker’s cart. She didn’t want to have the staff nurse on her case on her first day. She didn’t think she could bear that.
Young Martin appeared, peddling furiously up the rise. She waited, ready to tease him. Before he reached her he had his hand in his pocket and pulled out a telegram. ‘It’s alright Geraldine. It’s good.’
Martin was a sweet boy with ears like sails and teeth like granite chips. ‘Go on.’
She opened it and read it slowly. ‘Private Arnold Summers has been awarded the Military Medal for conspicuous gallantry on the field of battle.’ Her Arnie.
A cough made her turn. Cousin Peter. ‘Arnold’s Ma’s ‘ad a turn.’
She ran behind him, the speed and her uniform stopping her asking what was up, while she clutched the telegram. They were shown in the Forman’s office. Mrs Summers sat, gripping a hanky and a telegram. She held it out to Geraldine. ‘I know Ma.’
Puzzlement filled her face, confusing Geraldine who read the second telegram. ‘We regret to inform you of the death of Pte Arnold Summers from his injuries sustained…’
Geraldine met her mother in law’s gaze. They would get through this, like Mrs Ephram and so many more.
This week’s #microcosms prompt has a WW1 theme to it with the three prompts: wife, street and tragedy.