Peace in my Heart
The war is over and Evie Talbert eagerly awaits the return of her three children from their evacuated homes. But her carefree daughters and son are barely recognisable – their education has been disrupted, the siblings split up, and the effect on them has been life-changing. Her son has developed serious behavioural problems and with her daughters, there’s jealousy and a nervous disorder that cannot be explained…
Evie’s husband also has problems. Having returned from being in action, he suffers nightmares and fits of rage. He’s no longer the gentle, quiet man Evie married. Peace may finally be here, but Evie’s family is in shreds. Now she must rebuild a loving home to achieve the happiness she’s always dreamed of…
Extract - Chapter OneMay 1945
The celebrations for the end of the war had gone wild, the streets on V.E. Day packed with jubilant revellers all singing, dancing and laughing, much to Joanne’s delight. There were rosettes, flags and bunting all around; lights on everywhere and a band playing. Her gaze shifted to the lilting waves as they lapped below the North Pier. She felt quite familiar with all the moods of the sea from gentle and benign, as it was today to fiercely destructive when towering waves would fly over the promenade and small boats could be battered. Having adopted HMS Penelope, a ship the locals supported, they were devastated when it was tragically hit by a torpedo near Italy in 1944 and sank, killing 400 men. There had been a dreadful plane crash on Central Station and an air disaster in nearby Freckleton when a B-24 Liberator had crashed into the village school and houses killing over 50 people and dozens of children. The many airports had endured some problems throughout the war but the town had still welcomed holidaymakers in need of a little fun, and had generously provided accommodation to thousands of evacuees, including herself and her young sister. Fortunately Blackpool had suffered fewer disasters than many other places, certainly much less than Joanne’s hometown of Manchester. Life seemed to be rather like the sea, one moment calm and benevolent, the next cruel and harsh because of the horrors of war. But they’d found it a great place to live.
Thankfully the war was at last over, so hopefully things would improve. Looking out across the calm blue Irish Sea, the sandy beach was smooth and golden, stretching for some distance. Joanne had brought some sandwiches and cakes to contribute to the party they would all enjoy later. She’d even seen someone bring along a stack of odd looking yellow pieces of fruit, which were apparently bananas, not something she’d ever tasted and greatly looked forward to savouring them.
‘God save the King,’ somebody called out. Cheers of joy met this cry, turning it into the national song.
Joanne glanced at her watch. Three-thirty. Her afternoon break would generally be almost over at this point. Lunchtime at the boarding house where they lived, the two landladies having cared for them this last three years, had been busy as usual with many wives having come to visit their RAF husbands. Joanne always looked forward to an hour or two of freedom in the middle of the afternoon when she could refresh herself in the sea air and sunshine. Those two dear sisters, Aunt Annie and Aunt Sadie, readily encouraged her to take a break and today being one of celebration, there was no demand for her to rush back to work. No doubt they too were around somewhere enjoying this celebration. From where she stood on the promenade close to the Tower and the North Pier, Joanne watched her sister Megan happily dancing with Bernie, their nephew. He’d first asked Joanne but she’d politely declined, anxious to sit and wait for Teddy to come, knowing in her heart that she could love no man but this GI.
Oh, but why hadn’t he arrived when he’d promised that he would, knowing she so enjoyed dancing with him? He was a most dapper and exciting GI, billeted in Garstang. Joanne did once visit him there to attend a dance at the village hall. She’d been shown around the camp, tripping along duckboards in her heeled shoes to view the Nissen huts, cookhouse and officers’ mess. It was a bit of a dump, packed with gallon drums, jeeps, fuel; wet clothing hanging on hedges or trees to dry that didn’t look at all proper. He’d taken her to see the tent where he and his mates were accommodated and had given her a cuddle and a kiss. She took care that he did no more than that, not wishing to be taken advantage of. Many girls were happy to lose their virginity with a man who could be killed in the war, something they felt they should not object to. Joanne was far more cautious being only seventeen, very young and innocent.
How she loved him. These GIs were most attractive men and happy to come into Blackpool to visit one of the many pubs on the promenade, or enjoy the dancing at the Tower Ballroom, sometimes dressed as a civvie instead of in their uniform.
After the dance she and Teddy would often take a drink in a pub and she would sit on his lap for him to kiss and caress her, sending her senses skittering at the thrill of his touch. More often than not there were other girls hovering close by. Joanne paid them no heed, accustomed to the fact that these guys were never short of admirers, being popular men. And she was perfectly certain that Teddy viewed her as his favourite girl. Hadn’t he told her so a million times?
So why wasn’t he here on this special day? There was so much she felt the need to say to him now the war was over. Joanne gave a sigh and stood up, brushing away the sand that had blown onto her skirt.
When a hand lightly touched her shoulder she felt a frisson of recognition. He’d arrived at last. Instantly filled with pleasure and excitement, Joanne quickly turned to give him a hug, eager to welcome him while inside she felt in complete turmoil. Did she dare to tell this man how much she dreamed of a happy future together?
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