Word Count 482
By Sharon Collins
Standing on the verge of despair, buffeted by a wet south wind blowing in off the Channel, he stared down, mesmerized by her hazel eyes. Full of worry and unshed tears, they were luminous in the starlight. Pressed tight against the full moon of her belly, he felt the baby move, their second, a boy this time he hoped. Its butterfly caress loosening the cast iron bands of his bravado, released the tears that had threatened all day. “Seems like the salt air is stinging your poor eyes, “she smiled, offering him an out, removing the true sting of shame. Soldiers should not cry and soldiers’ wives should never notice when they do. Wiping them away, the very same iron bands around her own heart tightened. Tying them in a double knot, she tested their hold with a whisper now muffled against his chest. “It will be all right…I’m sure it will be all right…It has to be all right…It will be, won’t it?” His nod, the little lie he allowed, was all he could manage. How could he tell her the truth? He wasn’t sure they would.
Privy to the “Eyes Only” communiques of Operations Neptune and Overlord, he knew beyond any shadow of all doubt, that the day after tomorrow, would change the world forever. Things would definitely never be the same again. He prayed they would indeed be all right.
He had not asked her to return to the base with him but she knew he wanted her to, needed her to. Now they stood, frozen in time, surrounded by a dozen other couples, each locked in their own desperate embrace, just beyond the slice of light escaping the blackout curtains of the guardhouse. Quiet assurances and small sobs floated on the evening air along with an occasional cough and even a smattering of laughter. With a lingering kiss and whispered farewell, she released him to his duty, as a ship’s bell chimed, breaking the spell.
Watching him disappear into the military darkness, she fingered his gift, a small, golden locket shaped like a heart, a broken heart. How proud he had been at breakfast, giving her the small box with the blue bow. Blue for a boy, she knew. How shocked he had been when she opened the locket and snapped it in half. “We will take it to the jewelers and have it mended when you return,” she promised, taking a pin from her apron pocket and fastening the back half inside his uniform, right over his heart and patting it three times for luck. “There, now you’ve stolen my heart twice, “she teased.
“Did you have to use a diaper pin, especially one with a duck-head?” he groaned, teasing right back. “What’ll the guys say when the see it?”
Tell them, “Ducks for luck! Don’t you know?” “Ducks for luck…” she sighed turning to go.