The War, The Wedding & The Step-mother

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“I hope the war ends soon,” Catrin said as Tom and she walked through the fields near where she lived with her parents and her younger sister, Erin. “I hate war. So much killing and so many lives lost. I just wish it would end soon and that life would return to normal.”

“So do I. I’ve lost a lot of friends in the war so far.”

“Let’s hope that it ends before you lose any more friends or I lose…” she didn’t finish the sentence. She didn’t know what she would do if she were to lose him. She didn’t want to even think about it.

Tom gently squeezed her hand. “Don’t worry, you won’t lose me,” he said. “I’m not ready to die–especially not after meeting you.”

Catrin smiled. “That’s the only good thing about this war–us meeting.”

“Yes. I wrote a letter to my step-mother telling her about you. She should have received it by now.”

“What did you tell her about me?”

“That you’re Welsh and that I plan to marry you after the war.”

“Do you think she would be pleased?”

Tom looked away. “I don’t see why not.”

“I wish we didn’t have to wait until the war was over to get married.”

“I wish so too but I want us to marry during a time of peace, not while the war is still going on. Besides, I want us to have a nice church wedding with our families present. And then, go off on a honeymoon instead of me going off to fight soon after we marry.”

“I guess you’re right. It would be nice to be able to spend the rest of our lives together after we get married and not have to worry about being separated for a long time or until the war is over. And only seeing you when you manage to get leave. As much as it pains me to say this, let’s wait until the war is over before we get married.”

“It will give me something to look forward to when I leave you.”

“It will give me something to look forward to as well.”

“I will write you.”

“I love receiving your letters. I read them over and over.”

“I’m thankful that I have a sweetheart to write them to. Most of the chaps don’t.”

“I expect they write to their parents, though.”

“Yes, they do.”

“Do you write your step-mother often?”

“Not as often as I write you.”

“How did she and your father meet?”

“They met at a café in London.”

“How old were you when they met?”

“I was fourteen.”

“Is your step-mother the same age as your father?”

“No. She’s in her early thirties. My father was in his late forties. He was besotted with her. It was first time since my mother passed away that he had shown any interest in a woman.”

“How long were they married?”

“They were married for five years and then, he died from a heart attack. He had angina which was why he couldn’t register for service in the first world war and this one.”

“It must have been devastating for you to lose your Dad–and he was only in his forties too.”

“Yes, it was. I had lost my mother when I was seven and then, to lose my father too–it was tough.”

“I can’t imagine losing my own father, that’s why I’m so thankful that he’s exempted from fighting in the war too because he’s a scientist. Were you and he close?”

“Yes. He and I used to go fishing.”

“What about your step-mother? Are you close to her?”

Tom lowered his eyes. “We became very close after my father died.”

“I can’t wait to meet her.”

Tom didn’t answer. What could he say? He would be lying if he said that his step-mother was anxious to meet her as well. If Gwendoline had received his letter by now, she must have thrown a jealous fit when she read that he had met Catrin and was planning to marry her. He knew that he would receive a letter from her–berating him for betraying her with another woman and begging him to end his relationship with her and to give up his plans to marry her.

He glanced at Catrin who was staring ahead and wondered what she would do if she knew that he and his step-mother became lovers shortly after his father passed away. He remembered how Gwendoline and he had made passionate love the night before he had to leave for Norway. As they lay spent in the bed, she had rested her head in his heaving chest and he had brushed her hair back from her face. “I wish you weren’t leaving,” she said. “I wish you could have been exempted from fighting this dreadful war. I wish you had a weak heart or poor eyesight–whatever ailment or a scientist or a doctor or one of those people who are excused from fighting.”

“I wish I didn’t have to go either but I must.”

“Oh, Tom, I couldn’t bear it if anything were to happen to you…”

“Nothing will happen to me, Gwendie. I promise I’ll come back to you.”

“And when you do, the first thing we’ll do is to get married.”

He hadn’t answered. Instead, he had kissed the top of her head.

He sighed within himself. Unlike Catrin, he wasn’t looking forward to her meeting his step-mother. In fact, he dreaded it.

Sources: UK Parliament; Encyclopedia; Wikipedia

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