Toronto – June 25, 1944 – Part 2

(Dodging Shells gave you Tommy’s letters to his sister, from the front. Kathy’s letters in response tell of life in wartime Toronto.)

…..And now for a bit of national news: representative Indians from across Canada gathered in Ottawa earlier this month, intending to establish the ‘first Indian government of Canada’. Apparently they consider the present arrangement a ‘puppet government’, set up by invaders (that would be us). One wonders why they didn’t set up a national government when they had the place all to themselves, if it was so damned important to them.
…..They want to establish their own national independence and the right to use their own currency. (I guess that would be an ‘Indian Head’ coin. Haven’t the Americans already got dibs on that idea?) Maybe they think while the ‘puppet’ is distracted by the war, they’ll be able to take back a chunk of the country and nobody will notice. But I suspect they’ll find it a bit trickier than that.

…..I was cuddled up on the sofa one drizzly Sunday afternoon in the spring, thumbing through the Eaton’s catalogue for the few new designs that the fashion police are allowing into production this season when there was a knock on the door. Picture my enthusiasm when I recognized a rather soggy uniform containing May’s cousin Cliff!
…..Well, I could hardly leave the poor boy standing out in the rain, so I reluctantly invited him in. Apparently, he hadn’t been able to resist my remembered allure, and the minute he got back to Toronto for I don’t remember what reason, he promptly sought me out. Lucky me.
…..Remember…it was Sunday. He didn’t have the option of offering to take me out anywhere. Everything was closed. (It’s probably just as well – that would have seemed more like a date and might have given him unwarranted hope.) So I hustled him past the sofa and into the kitchen for a cup of coffee and a chat. My luck being what it is, Mom and Dad were both out visiting some relative or other, so a welcome diversion before dinnertime was unlikely.
…..Now, he hadn’t aged appreciably since New Year’s Eve. But let’s put that aside for a while. The fact is, we had nothing at all in common. He’s a farm boy from out Bowmanville way, and I’m…well…not. As the afternoon dragged on and I learned so much more about fresh air and pig shit and knocking over outhouses on Halloween than I ever wanted to know, my responses became sparser and slower (I think I was bordering on comatose) and the silences became really painful. Finally, I glanced out the window, and up at the clock, and blurted:
…..“My goodness, it’s getting late in here!”
…..Fortunately, I think he was awkward enough to completely miss the ridiculous in what I’d said, while he did manage to catch the underlying hint: it was time for him to go. I had no intention of inviting him to dinner…that would have been too encouraging altogether.
…..As he backed down the front walk ever so slowly, he offered to write to me, and he asked me to write back. I would have promised anything. Finally I closed the door and collapsed on the sofa, snorting with laughter.
…..Another knock. Oh, no! I choked back the giggles and opened the door.
…..There he was. Again. I hoped he hadn’t heard me.
…..“I said I’d write to you. Um…how do you spell your last name?” He’d clearly forgotten it, and he was too embarrassed to say so.
…..“What…Smith?” I’m not sure I hid my amusement effectively. My patience was running out.
…..“Um…yes.” He blushed a most unattractive shade of raspberry and fished in his pocket for paper and pencil.
…..He printed it carefully. And left. Much more quickly this time.
…..He may not write to me after all.


About Wendy Bertsch

I’m a Canadian author—a pragmatic optimist with rather eclectic interests and a pervasive sense of humour. Toronto born and bred, I live by the lake with a motley array of dogs and a cat, all but myself being of unknown origin, in a comfortable old house filled with books. Over a thousand books. Books in every nook and cranny. And now, since there can never be too many books, I'm writing more. Once More, From the Beginning highlights the women in the bible. It's about time! And believe me, they see things quite differently. And in Dodging Shells, you'll meet the irrepressible Tommy, as he fights his way through Italy in World War II. You'll love Tommy. I do. Next? Well, that's a secret yet. Stay tuned... I recently initiated the fledgling Ocean Highway Books, providing editing, formatting and cover design services to authors wishing to self-publish.
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