awash with terror, I lay in bed jumping and flinching at every creek. The old country house had always made such noises at night. The beams would creek, the windows would knock and the wind would howl down the fire place. I had not always been so afraid of these sounds, but then I had not always been alone.
My husband and I moved to this village 5 years ago, we had just married and the house was just right for us. It was I admit a bit weather worn but Paul (my husband) could afford it and there was a job available as the village post master. He bought the house, took the job and we were happy, oh so happy here. The wind could scream bloody murder and the house itself could shake, but with Paul here, I, feared nothing.
That though was before. Before the war. Before Enlistment, before our men were sent to fight and fester and die in toughs god awful trenches in France. So, alone in the cold windy night, I lay, both scared of the unearthly things that could be apon me in the unsettled house, and scared of the oh too earthly danger facing my husband far across the channel.
Context. It is a strange thing. So thing within a certain context can be, dull, boring and warrant no thought or attention. Though in different context, this same thing, in this case noise, can be terrifying. The noise I heard that that night, would be, in the right context, so very dull. But in bed alone in my old house this sound scared me to my very bones.
Somebody had just unlocked the front door and was walking towards the stairs. I lost feeling in my feet, my hands tingled with pins and needles and my mouth went deathly dry as I listened to the heavy boots trudge the floorboards towards the stairs. My stomach convulsed as if to physically expel this now tangible, poisons fear from my body. I did not have time to react further, as the boots hurried up the stairs and a hand came around my bedroom door,
I was at the point of passing out as the man’s face appeared.
How soon and how much that changed in an instant.
I yelled and cried at him as I jump into his arms.
“Paul! Your home!”
We both sat on the bed in tears as he tried to compose his words to explained his return
He explained all about the shelling they came under, his time in the army hospital with Reg . Our neighbour and my bestfreinds, Meg’s. Husband. He explained the shrapnel in his arms and back, his discharge from service and how Reg should soon be discharged as well.
I slept sound that night. Paul was up and dressed when I woke the next morning, he said he had no time for breakfast as he was off to the post office to restart his duties as post master. He. Was gone barely two hrs before returning with a huge sack of post, which he dumped on the kitchen table. He sat there for a hr or so, sorting the letters and I couldn’t help but notice that he had placed about two dozen in the small iron bucket we kept next to the stove, he explaned they were rubbish and I was to burn them. Then with a harshness that I have never heard in his voice he told me not to open or read a single one. They were to be destroyed and nothing more.
He left on his rounds after this. I grabbed the letters in the iron bin and began to burn them in the stove one by one, after the 5ft letter; I began to notice a pattern. All the letters were for women in the village and toughs villages and towns close by. They all also had the army seal on them. I was puzzled by this, but my confusion gave way to horror at the 8th letter.
It was addressed to me.
Shaking and losing my composure by the second I opened the letter and began to read. It was an official letter of condolence to me informing me that Paul, along with his company, had died in action. In a foolish reaction I threw the letter into the stove destroying it. After few moments of none senseicle weeping I looked threw the other letters. The 11th was addressed to Meg.
Paul came home latter that evening. Again he wouldn’t eat I began to relies that since he returned I had not seen him eat or sleep. He asked me, coldly, if I had destroyed the letters to which I said yes. For I had, all except the one for Meg.
That night in bed I could, although my eyes were closed feel Paul staring at me for hrs. Eventually got up, I imagine once he was sure I was asleep. I could hear him down stairs talking allowed in a strange voice. It was him but…it wasn’t, and it was not English or for that matter any language I recognised.
The next morning a got up to again the same. Paul was dressed, refused breakfast and went off to work. I had a plan. If I could just get to Meg and show her the letter, then the two of us could think of a way out of this hell.
I knocked hard and firm at Meg’s door, again close to losing my composure. She answered with a broad smile from ear to ear and before I could break down and show her the letter and explain what had happened she crushed any hope I had of escaping this nightmare in five little words.”Reg came home last night”
Fighting my knotted stomach I asked her where he was and she told me he and Paul had gone to get him a nice new job in the county post sorting office.
This was three months ago, since then, dozens of men have ‘come home’ and have all, thanks to my Paul, got jobs with the post office and other communication services.
I lay in bed at night now, I shiver and jump. The noises of the house no longer scare me. But the sound of my husband passing the house makes my blood run cold.
Context, it is a strange thing
Credit To – cockney pasta
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