Wednesday, 9th April 16:47 BDST: Smethwick, England


A dull grey tin bucket crashes down onto the grass with a hollow dull-like thud. It’s been thrown out from the Anderson Shelter before Doreen’s half-crouched form hobbles out of the gloom and towards the light. The bucket’s watery contents are seeping back into the soil, while little bubbles form in the spots where it’s sinking down the quickest. To the insects down there, living unseen in the grass, a tsunami is wreaking havoc upon them, crashing them about, but up in the world of humans, their turmoil is simply a sign of the end of manual labour for a mother and daughter. “Sod it mom!”, Doreen shouts as she finally clambers out of the shelter, still bent over, her nose scrunching up with indignation and her lips pursed. Finally, she stands upright defiantly, hands on her hips. 


Amy has a shocked look on her face, for a moment at least, and then breaks into laughter. “Yeah, sod it!”, she shouts back too, following up with, “Tea break!” She throws her own bucket down on the grass too. Mother and daughter descend into fits of laughter again, as Doreen throws her arms around the shoulders of her mother, glancing back at the water-logged Anderson Shelter momentarily, flicking her two fingers up at it before looking ahead again. They walk back down the garden path towards the house, arm-in-arm.


A pair of worn-out, green, muddy wellingtons drop to the floor, bouncing back up in the air, a little on the doormat, and then swaying apart and then back together again as if they’re on sentry duty by the back door. Their owner has left them behind, and, in the distance, the wireless strikes up in the parlour with the sounds of Jay Wilbur and his Orchestra on the Hi, Gang! show. In slow motion, Amy slumps down onto a kitchen chair she’s just pulled out from under the kitchen table. As it still creaks with her weight, she reaches for her slippers, down by her side, just as Doreen shouts out, “This is for you mom, it’s your fancy man again with Once in Awhile!” Laughter echoes out from the parlour.


Amy rolls her eyes upwards, mouthing the words, “oh, you little brat you,” but smiles nonetheless at the long-standing running joke which originally had been just between her and her husband William. He’d joked that she’d appeared awfully keen on Jay Wilber ever since she’d heard him and the band play I’m thru with Love on the wireless back in 1931. But then, William, tired of her going on about him, had shown her a photo of Jay. On seeing that he looked a bit like Arthur Askey, and nothing like the Hollywood heartthrob she’d imagined, she’d gone all cold on him. 


Her smile drops. It often came on from nowhere, thoughts of William, down there all alone in London. They’d been together for so long, marrying in 1915 just before he’d gone off to France in that war to end all wars, and yet here they were again, once more separated by war. “Separated by the bloody Boche again,” she seethed inside, just stopping herself from crying this time, standing up quickly and then smoothing down her apron, as if she’s pushing the thoughts away, and walking over to the sink to fill the kettle under the tap. Just at this moment, Doreen waltzes into the kitchen, arms outstretched as if embracing an imaginary dance partner, but Amy just looks on out of the kitchen window, back up the garden path to the water-logged Anderson Shelter and through the dark outline of herself, reflecting back to stare at her.