“After that first meeting, I rearranged my days so that I could pass through Thurrock on my way elsewhere, to have a cup of tea, and a chat with Emmy. She used to bring me sandwiches and home-made cakes, and it wasn’t long before I realized I was falling in love. But it was 1916, or 1917, the war was still on, there was no end in sight, and I didn’t think it fair to a girl like Emmy, to saddle her with someone who might be wounded, and not able to provide for her.
I didn’t say anything to Beat, which wasn’t hard as we scarcely saw one another, but somehow she found out. One day, when I returned at midnight, I found her waiting up by the fire.
“Where’ve you been?” she carped as soon as I entered the room.
“You know where I’ve been, Beat.” Perhaps now was a good time to get some things off my chest, as I might not have the opportunity for a while. I looked her straight in the eye.
“Look, Beat, you and I, we’ve not been getting along so well, have we? Would you like me to leave?”
“Leave? Why should I want you to do that?”
“We’re not getting on.”
“Oh? And what makes you an expert all of a sudden?”
“You don’t want me to touch you.”
“Of course I don’t. That whole thing is disgusting, and look where it left me, at death’s door.”
“Beat, I’m sorry you lost the child, but we have to let bygones be bygones.”
She folded her arms, and glared. “Robert Prisley Caveley, I declare you are one of the selfishest individuals to ever inhabit this earth. You don’t care about me. You want to move on because you’ve found someone else.”
“Don’t you dare deny it.” She picked up a rolling pin. “Or I’ll brain you.”
I hadn’t noticed the rolling pin until now. Was she joking? I looked at her sharp visage, harsh lines outlining her nose and mouth.
[To be continued.]