“James, it’s so good to have you home.”
“It’s good to be home,” he replied quietly.
There was a sadness in his eyes. Was it the war or something else? He had changed so much. Gone was the that she loved so much. How she hated the war and what it had done to him–to all of them. It had been agony being separated from him for so long, wondering if the war would ever end and if he would survive. She couldn’t bear the thought of losing the man she loved so dearly.
His letters offered her some solace but she would have preferred to have him physically with her instead. He never told her about the fighting. He only mentioned the base where he was stationed and the different soldiers under his command. He asked about her and the children. He always included a psalm in his letter to encourage her to keep the faith. Since he couldn’t attend church, he used to ask her about the service and what the minister spoke about. She looked forward to receiving his letters.
When she heard that he had been shot by a sniper, she thought she would die. Then, she was told that he had come through the surgery and that he would be returning home once he was fit enough to travel. She was so thankful that he was alive and that they would be together again. She went to the airport to meet him. The children wanted to go but she had them stay with their paternal grandparents. She wanted to be alone with James.
Her heart raced as she watched her husband, tall and handsome in his blue army coat walking towards her. She never thought that it was possible to love him more than she already did. When he reached her, they stared at each other for a few moments and then, they embraced.
Jane closed her eyes. It felt so good to be holding him in her arms. She was one of the lucky ones. Some wives were receiving their husbands in coffins. She shuddered at the thought. She was thankful to still be a wife. Her husband had come home–alive. She clung tightly to him, not wanting to let go.
James drew back. “Where are the children?” he asked.
“They’re with your parents. I thought it would be best for you and me to be alone at least for a little while until you’ve settled in. The children will be back home this evening.”
“Oh. You’re looking well.”
“Thank you. Did you have a good flight?”
“Are you hungry?”
“You must be tired.”
“Let’s go home, Darling.” She hugged him again. “I love you, James.”
James hugged her tightly but he didn’t reply.
I guess I should have known then that his feelings for me had changed, Jane thought now. Usually, when she told him that she loved him, he would tell her that he loved her too but that time he didn’t. She had tried not to dwell on it or worry too much about it. She was just thankful to have him back. She had clung to him and buried her wet face in his shoulder.
During the ride to the house James was quiet. She did most of the talking, telling him about Jack and Sara and how much they they had grown since the last time he saw them. They sat in the back of the taxi, holding hands as she talked and James stared out of the window. When they got home, he told her that he was tired and went upstairs to their bedroom where he spent the rest of the afternoon. He didn’t emerge until it was time for dinner. He didn’t seem to have much of an appetite.
When the children went home that evening, they were beside themselves with excitement to see him and they asked him all sorts of questions until she had to tell them, “No more questions, children,” she had told them. “Daddy’s tired. Now, Sara, why don’t you go and play with your new doll and you, Jack finish reading that book your grandfather lent you? When it’s time for bed, you can come and say goodnight to Daddy.”
The two had reluctantly left her alone with their father who looked so worn. At the time, she had thought that it was the war until even the children had noticed the change in him. That was when she had realized that it wasn’t just the war but something else. That something else was the nurse he met in North Africa. All the time he was at home with the children and her, he had been thinking of her.
Jane leaned her head back against the seat and let the tears spill down her pale cheeks. She had her face turned towards the window so that no one could tell that she was crying. Fortunately, Jack and Sara were fast asleep. If it weren’t for the war, she wouldn’t be here on this plane, on her way to Sydney. She would be home with James, and they would be sitting in front of the fireplace, his arm around her shoulders and her head resting against him as they talked about the children and other things.
Yet, here she was on a plane miles and miles away from James and their home. It wasn’t war which had separated them this time but another woman and this time, the separation was for good. There would be no homecoming this time. She and the children would be gone from James’ life forever. She couldn’t stay in a marriage to a man who was in love with another woman and who would have left her if there wasn’t anything standing in his way. Her marriage was over. The war and another woman had broken up what had once been a very happy home. If only there hadn’t been a second world war. If only, James hadn’t met that nurse. If only…
2 thoughts on “Homecoming”
Wonderful! I so look forward to your stories! Great writing!
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Thank you so much 🙂