Nano 2011 - Day 13He made sure he got his permission sorted out early. He made sure he was washed until his skin glowed and his hair sat down on his head in damp lines and his clothes were spotless. He polished his boots, sitting on his bed with each one gloved over his hand and the cloth moving in tight circles, bringing a shine back to the leather. He couldn't see his face in them, but he was glad of that. He thought he would look too anxious.
He had avoided Frankie's eyes in the morning. It always took him time to ease out of sleep, but he had lain staring at the ceiling that morning instead of blinking tiredly at the other men and thinking of coffee and how to get to it without losing the patina of sleep from his body.
'You still mad at me, huh?' Frankie had asked him as he sorted through his clothes, and Ed had lain silent, unsure of how to answer. 'We'd both had too much to drink last night,' Frankie persisted. 'I mean, gee, I could practically see the liquor coming off you in your sweat. You were
Nano 2011 - Day 1211.
There was a darkness wrapped around inside of Ed, holding him still, stopping him from looking up at the other men. They asked him why he had disappeared that night and not walked home with them, and he had mumbled excuses about feeling sick and needing the air, but he had made no excuses to Cassie. He did not know how to face her. He did not know what to say.
He sat in the mess, his fingers curled around a glass of scotch, sipping it slowly and letting the scent of it rise up around him every time he touched the glass to his lips. Someone months ago had begged and scrounged a group of soft chairs from the old, empty manor house just off the airfield and the guys had made a kind of a club house in the corner, away from the long board tables, partitioned off with screens. Pete Johnson had painted half-naked girls and airplanes and things on those screens. Pete had been a good artist, before he came back injured too bad to serve any more, but his pictures were still there.
Nano 2011 - Day 1110.
Cassie walked slowly back across the blowing grass, thinking of frying fish and coffee. It felt like a long time since she had eaten anything different from salt pork and sour dough bread, and since she had drunk anything but clear water or tea. She wasn't really tired of those things they tasted good every time she had them, and they were not all she had anyway but the thought of something new made her mouth water.
This reminded her of something. She fixed her eyes on the clarity of the sky and let her mind drift, thinking back to another time, a younger time. She remembered being on the edge of womanhood and holding an egg in her hand, smooth and warm and inviolate. She remembered thinking how precious that egg was in that time of privation, feeling gratitude that she could take that egg back to the house and cook with it or eat it, while others were using powdered eggs or no eggs at all. She remembered thinking with lust of the idea of chocolate and sweets,
RemembranceLest we forget, they said.
And not just forget the men in the mud,
but the men who found air and sea as treacherous,
and those who guided them down safe paths,
and those who shot, and those shot at.
And not just the men,
but the women who worked, and the women who waited,
and the men and the women who died at home,
sheltering in places that were not shelter enough.
Two sleeping children at Glebe Farm.
Those tiny, single losses, blossoming into a field.
No race, nor homeland, nor gender matters in death.
Lest we forget, they said.
And not just those who died, but those who are living still,
and those who are fighting still,
and those who are still waiting at home, with hope clenched in their hands,
and those who were left behind.
Nano 2011 - Day 10The moving bodies made the room hot despite the chill outside. The fall cold tried to press though the large windows, through the blackout blinds, but it was pushed back by the warmth of joy and dancing. Ed held Cassie tight against him, forgetting to hear the music and only feeling it instead. It made the bodies around him sway, made the floor vibrate through the moving feet.
He leant his chin against the top of her head and smelt the warm scent of her hair, of heat rising from her body. He was lost in the feel of her, of the feel of the curve between hip and ribs through the thin fabric of her blouse, the press of her against each finger. He could feel her heartbeat through his fingertips, or maybe it was his own, blood racing through his body as he moved.
He was thirsty. He tried to ignore that, but his voice was beginning to crack when he spoke. He had drunk cider that was offered to him in a tall glass. He had drunk Mrs Elton's elderflower wine, pressed on him by a woman with grey
Nano 2011 - Day 099.
Death was unsettling. The fear of death was a like a live thing, like a creeping thing that stood always behind his shoulder, always just out of view. He had begun to fear it every time he pulled on his flight suit and walked across the concrete to that great B-24 sitting on the runway. For all the jokes and shouted comments between the crew, they all feared it.
Climbing in to the waist of the plane was like climbing inside the belly of a creature, plugging himself in to the artificial warmth, laying his gloved hands on the gun and waiting for the rumbling engines to strike into life and the ground to start moving beneath him. He was not afraid of the plane itself. He trusted the plane as a child trusts its parent to carry him and never drop him. But the sharks circling in the pool of the sky and the streaking bullets from the ground and the streaking bullets from the air made his chest and stomach clench with fear.
At night he lay beneath blankets, his eyes staring into the depthle
Nano 2011 - Day 08The walk was slow and pleasant, and his arm was linked in hers, his fingers twined around her fingers. The solidity and size of him was like a reassurance always with her, like moving with a guard at her back. Nothing scared her in this open grassland, but the presence of him there was like a mast to cling to.
'That's a killdeer,' he said as a brown-backed bird flew up. 'Might mean there's a lake somewhere near. And it means we're home I mean, somewhere near my home, where I grew up.'
'If this is real at all,' she smiled. She didn't often doubt the surroundings now the place was so vivid and deep and many-layered but sometimes the thought came to her that this may all be a fantasy and it may all disappear as easily as she had come to it.
'If this is real,' he echoed, looking about him. 'But it's real enough for me. I used to come out into land like this sometimes. Most of it was farmed, of course, but some was still wild seeming. When dad first bought a car we'd dr
Nano 2011 - Day 078.
Perhaps days had passed, or perhaps they had not. The sun still rose in the morning, gold and alive and shimmering on the horizon, sending long tongues of light across the grasslands and slanting across the walls of the log house and making a bright patch on the wall through the un-shuttered window. Cassie rose from a bed that was soft and sagging beneath her, clutching the patchwork quilt across her chest and wondering if the small, tight stitches in each patch were hers. She had memories of sewing, of softly drawing a needle through cloth and hearing the almost inaudible drag of the cotton following behind, catching on the threads of the material through which it pulled. She knew the feeling of having a tight, hard line pressed into her fingertip from the needle in her hand, and that she hated to wear a thimble and would rather draw blood. Perhaps she had sewn this quilt as something for the marital home, as the first colourful thing that would adorn their first house together. Pe
Nano 2011 - Day 067.
The sketches grew a little day by day. When Ed was in the mess hall Cassie would not let him step forward to interfere with the composition of her scene, no matter that the scene was discomposed every day by the milling of the men and the cycling of those off duty and on. She would pat the wall beside where she stood and he would come and stand beside her, idly watching her pencil move, while the other men watched them with jealous and longing looks and kept their language clean and their actions restrained on pain of punishment from the C.O..
'I couldn't have your hair in there,' she would murmur. 'It would completely upset the whole scene. I've got who is he Rourke? with his ginger hair, and I can't have that blond in there too. It just wouldn't work.'
He smiled at her thin excuses and accepted them without argument, and stood and watched as the men that he knew became first lines and angles, and then shades and depths, and then, finally, the beginnings of blo