Keep Smiling Through

Written by Dice

Dancing on VE Day, May 1945. Such a wonderful celebration! Image courtesy of graphics20.com

7th May 1945. The sound of celebration was in the air. The Mall leading up to Buckingham Palace was awash with excitement and colour. People danced, sang, cried, laughed, hugged and kissed each other. All wanted to share the moment of triumph. Rule Britannia and long live the King.

Robert was no longer celebrating; he had join those crowds early on, but now he walked alone over the rubble of bricks and mortar that had once been his family home. Only a few weeks earlier it had been hit by a V2 Rocket. Robert had been serving at the war office at the time, but his wife had witnessed it. Robert thanked God that she survived, and that their son, Albert had been evacuated a year before. He tried to picture what Gloria had described. She had said she watched the rocket fly through the roof, a moment later there had been an almighty explosion as if the devil himself had reigned damnation on the street. Deafened by the explosion, her hair flying in the wind from the blast, Gloria had watched as other houses and buildings fell to the explosion, yet their home had remained standing like a lone soldier whose comrades had fallen around him. The wind had changed direction whooshing past her, racing back towards their home. And in that following instant their home was gone. Other houses had pieces of wall remaining, some had only lost a single wall. Robert and Gloria’s home was completely obliterated.

Robert kicked at the bricks sombrely. He had been frustrated enough with his amputated arm that had prevented him from re-joining the fight back in 1941 and defend his family. And now their home was gone too. What kind of a man cannot defend his family or provide a home? He had tried so hard. Everywhere was full. Robert wasn’t a poor man, he offered much to possible land lords. All he wanted was a home to shelter his now deaf wife, if he couldn’t help or defend her, he would provide a home. But he had failed.

As darkness fell Robert could still hear the joy and laughter throughout the ruined city. Limping he made his way down the steps into the Holborn Underground Station, where he and his wife had lived since the bombing. As usually he was greeted with the stench of urine and sweat. The stay in the Underground was unpleasant, but where else could they go? As Robert reached the bottom he could hear singing.

Richard stepped onto the platform, further along he could see Gloria smiling away. She couldn’t hear what people were singing, but she clearly knew the war was over. People waved and smiled to her, letting her join the festivities nonetheless. Richard began making his way towards his wife. Despite the cheer he did not feel like celebrating. As if in spite to his sombre mood the people kept singing.

And when you,
Put out that torch light,
Put out that torch light,
Know in your heart it’s wise.

Gloria was beautiful, he had thought so the day he met her. Her dark brown hair framed her lovely face. She was his sweetheart and he wanted nothing in the world but to love her, and their son.

But they can never,
Put that light out,
In your eyes.

Slumping beside Gloria he put his arm around her. Gloria kissed him in the cheek and smiled a bright happy smile as if there was nothing wrong in the world.

You’ll keep smiling through.

Gloria did keep smiling through, thought Robert. Even after Robert had lost his arm, even after they had evacuated Albert to the countryside and even after they had lost their home and she her hearing. He attempted a smile back. It was genuine, but it was still thwarted by his inability to give her a home.

A sudden shout made Robert look up.

“Mother! Father!” without warning the eleven year old Albert lept between Robert and Gloria hugging them with abandon. Finally he let go. Gloria however did not, she brought her son closer to her, sitting him on her lap and kissing his cheek.

“Albert…” started Robert, lost for words, “how?”

“I ran away.” Announced Albert proudly, “as soon as I heard the news on the wireless I ran from the farm to the town. A train was leaving for London and I stowed away. When I saw the house a lady told me you were here. I know I should have stayed, but I just wanted to come home to you.”

Robert had been ready to reprimand his son, but his anger dissipated on his son’s final words.

“Home?” he repeated. Suddenly Richard laughed, happier than he had ever been he pulled his family closer. “Home? Yes we’re all home now.”

For someday you’ll know,
You’ll be able to throw,
Your tin hat away.
But until that sunny day
You’ll keep smiling through.

The time ahead would be tough, Richard knew, but they had a home. And until they got a new house, they’d just keep smiling through.

*

Dice is certain that Gloria’s song is an authentic WW2 song but doesn’t know who the artist is or indeed where he heard it, so drop us a line if you know the tune and we’ll let him know! This is the author’s seventh piece in Inkblots, making him quite the veteran.

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