Sirens shattered the night.
Nessie leapt from the bed and threw on trousers and a shirt over her nightgown. She rushed into the next room to find George sitting up and little Moira sleeping peacefully.
“Mama? Is it time to go?”
Nessie kept her voice calm and ruffled his hair. “It is. You know what to do. I’ll get your sister.”
George threw back the bedclothes and scrambled out. Her little man quickly pulled pants and a shirt over his pyjamas and then grabbed the small bag from the closet.
Moira kept sleeping while Nessie wrapped her in a blanket and hugged her to her chest. Then she picked up her own bag and slung it over her shoulder.
The blackout curtains were already closed, so less than a minute from the first siren wail, they were out of their tenement and hurrying down the stairs. They quickly crossed their tenement's back yard to the shelter.
An explosion sounded not far off and had George moving closer to her side. He let out a relieved sigh when they crossed into the protected room. They moved quickly to their usual spots and started tracking their neighbours. No one was going to forget a sleeping baby ever again. Even as she thought it, Nessie watched Ivy walk in. George quietly counted the children as they followed their mum. When he got to seven, he smiled at Nessie. “She’s got them all this time,” he whispered with a smile.
When everyone was inside, lanterns were lit and the door was closed. For a while they chatted quietly with each other while everyone settled in. Over the past year, they’d become used to the unknowns.
Were their husbands and sons and brothers safe? How many hours would the bombs rain down tonight? Would their windows be blown out again? Would their tenement buildings be standing when the all-clear siren rang out?
George patted his bag. “Can you read everyone a story, Mama?”
“You choose one tonight.”
His six-year old face serious, he looked through the tiny collection and pulled out the worn copy of Heidi that her mother had read to Nessie as a child.
The group fell into a routine of sorts. Nessie read a chapter. Old Bill played his violin. Sadie sang a song. Nessie read another chapter. More songs. More stories.
Moira woke when Kathleen played her harmonica. It was always the little girl’s favourite part.
When the all-clear siren rang out, the adults exchanged relieved looks. No bombs had sounded like they were close enough to harm their homes.
As they trudged out of the shelter, the sun was rising over the tenements, bathing the grey buildings in warm light. George laughed. “It’s so pretty Mama.”
Moira spread her arms wide. “Boo-ti-ful. It’s boo-ti-ful Mama.”
Old Bill patted George on the head as they walked backed to their building with its windows and bricks intact. “You and your sister are right, my boy. It’s beautiful. Life is beautiful. Remember that.”
Tagline - Even when sirens shatter the night
The above is part of the WEP Challenge for April - Life is Beautiful. This is another movie I haven't seen. (Yes, this is a theme. I don't watch a lot of movies I'm afraid.)
The above piece is based on stories that my mom (Lizzie from Dancing With Dementia) shared. She grew up in Aberdeen Scotland in WWII. She and her family spent a lot of time in bomb shelters during her formative years. The neighbours did indeed forget a baby one time and were unable to check on the child until the all-clear sirens rang. The windows had all exploded that time and the baby had been sleeping near the window in a buggy. The blanket was covered with glass shards, but the baby was unscathed. Life can indeed be beautiful!
I hope you'll check out the other stories through the link and I encourage you to join in the fun. We're always looking for new voices in the challenge!
PS - if you missed it, the latest Bloo Moose Romance released yesterday!