The Writer's Voice

The World's Favourite Literary Website

Mary Rose O'Donnell


Alice C. Bateman


Love Under Fire, The War Brides

Hello, Diary. Yes, I know, days have gone by since I put pen to paper, but I have been so exhausted by the time I reach this room at night that I have just fallen into bed, and immediately into dreams of my sweet Theo.

Sometimes, in the day, I question this. Not seriously, but all around me people are saying things like "Are you crazy? You don't even know this man!" "Are you nuts! How do you know what he'll be like once you're married?" "For God's sakes, our Mary Rose, please write to him and say that you at least need to see him a few more times, before you commit yourself to marriage!?"

And of course my young brother, Harry, "C'mon, you can't mean you're gonna marry this guy you just met? You're even crazier that I thought you were, Ro." {{Harry never seems to have time to speak my full name, he calls me always 'Mare' or 'Ro.' I have given up on correcting him.}} "Why don't you wait a year? If you're really in love, it'll keep for a year."

I reply to all: "I Love Theo. I will Marry him. He Loves me, he is the other half of me, the half that has been missing all my life." Yes, my Diary, I know it is not correct to write these words with capital letters, but that is how I think them.

They: "But, Mary Rose, you have years ahead of you, to rush into this marriage is a big risk! He comes from an entirely different country, for goodness sake!"

Me: "So? I have always wanted to travel, to see the world. My heart has been living on the other side of that ocean for as long as I can remember. I have always waited for what the ocean will bring to me. And now, it has brought me Theo, and a new home to go to. This ocean that I love so much will carry me to his arms, just as soon as this stupid war is over."

Them: "But why not wait, dear {my maiden aunt}, you'll love him even more a year from now."

Me {stamping my foot in impatience}: "And what would you know of Love, Auntie Flo? You've been alone all your life. You've never even so much as looked at a man!"

Auntie Flo {small, secret smile, and a sudden glow in her eyes}: "Ah, perhaps not in your memory, my child, but there was a young man once, just before the last war..."

Me: "Auntie? Why have you never told me?"

Auntie Flo: "Because, my sweet, in order to understand being in love, you first have to experience it. Tell me, child, does your heart pound at the mere mention of his name?"

Me: "Oh, yes, so very much!"

Auntie Flo: "Do you get kind of, ummmm, hot all over, inside and out, when he looks at you?"

Me {blushing}: "Yes, Auntie, I feel things I never even imagined before."

Auntie Flo: "And did it make your toes curl, when he kissed you?"

Me: "Auntie! What kind of questions are these to ask your niece?"

Auntie Flo {laughing}: "Ah, I see it did. I am just trying to see if you are truly in love, my girl." Here she patted my head, then stroked my long black hair, and said: "Marry him, Mary Rose. Marry him now. Don't listen to anyone saying that it's too soon, or any other foolish thing that they may say. You have found Love with a capital L, my sweet, reach out and grab it!"

And then, our conversation turned in a whole new direction, when she said: "I was foolish, I listened to the ones who said 'wait' and I lost my man. John, John Pike, an Englishman. I loved him so much, and like your Theo, he wanted to marry quickly. But I listened to the 'advice' of those around me, and said to John, no, we must wait. 

Auntie Flo stopped and picked up her mug of tea. {This conversation took place on Tuesday night, very late, after a frantic day.}

Me {softly}: "What happened, Auntie?"

Auntie Flo: "He was killed in his first action overseas, Mary Rose. And I was already carrying his baby."

Me {astounded, eyes like supper plates}: "You have a baby? Where is he? She? Who is it? Why, they'd have to be...."

Auntie Flo: "No, my dear, I do not have a baby, and no one but my parents and their spinster friend that I was banished to stay with know." A very big smile. "And now you, my lovely Rose."

At these words, Auntie Flo did something that she has never ever done, she tenderly stroked my face with her fingers. She has never made a loving gesture towards anyone, that I can ever remember. And then, her next words amazed me even further.

Auntie Flo: "Mary Rose, thank you for allowing me to unburden my soul to you. This has just given to me the most incredible feeling, speaking this horrible dark secret secret aloud. It is as if someone pulled the corks out of every pore in my body, and bubbles of light dance within each pore." Here, my Auntie showed to me a smile that I have never seen on her face.

"And what do you think of your Auntie now, my Rose? Am I the wicked shameless hussy that I have been called ever since the dreadful day when I had to tell my parents of my condition?"

Me: "Oh, Auntie!" Here, I jumped up from my chair and flung my arms around her, something I have never done before, either. She has always seemed rather forbidding. "Oh, Auntie, I love you even more! Oh, you poor thing, to have gone through this, and to not be able to talk of it!"

As I hugged her, I felt the shoulder of my uniform blouse grow wet from her tears, and her shoulders shaking a little as she sobbed gently. I slowly withdrew my arms from her, and sat again in my own chair.

Me: "Auntie? What happened to the baby?"

To my chagrin, as I said the word baby again, she burst into full floods of crying. I didn't know what to do, so I got up and refilled her tea from the big brown teapot, then went behind her to rub her shoulders. Finally, her cries again became sobs. The sound of my aunt crying like this broke my heart, because her own broken heart was exposed and raw.

Taking a few gulps of air, then blowing her nose on her hankie, Auntie Flo continued talking. "Rose, that baby, that seed, was my only bond to my John. As I would rub my belly, I would think of our one long and beautiful night of love together, and picture a little baby boy that would grow to look just like his father. And I thanked God every moment for giving me this piece of John to keep. When I wasn't raging at Him for taking John himself away from me."

For once, I just sat quietly nodding my head and listening to this woman I'd known all my life tell me her true story. A woman that I thought I had known all about, now revealed as a flesh and blood woman with a history, a painful and romantic history.

Auntie Flo: "That is, until my parents found out. Rose, you would not believe the things your grandparents were capable of saying. They called me, their own daughter who'd never done or said a bad thing in her life, names that I have only heard on the docks. And then they packed me off to stay with an old friend, way up in the Highlands, where my only friends for months on end were the sheep on the hillsides, and the baby that would not be mine to love, growing in my body.

"Oh, Rose, I cried oceans of tears, rivers flowed from my eyes. To brutally and abruptly lose the man that I loved so much, and now to carry his child, our son, knowing that I would never be able to keep him, to never even see him. My parents had everything arranged so that when the time came, I would be completely sedated, and the baby would be gone by the time I awakened. I cannot even begin to describe the despair of those long days, Rose."

By now, tears were streaming down my own face. I could not imagine any parents being so unfeeling. "But why, Auntie, why would they take away your baby?"

"Oh, honey, I was not married. A Cardinal Sin in the eyes of parents. I have always found it very strange, if there is a bit of paper, a baby is a wonderful and joyous thing. But if God gives you a baby without looking at the paperwork first, it is a dreadful and horrible thing. In my eyes, every child is a gift from God, not only the ones that choose to arrive within the boundaries of a marriage. But much of the world does not see it this way.... far too much of the world."

Me: "Oh, Auntie, how have you lived all these years with so much pain? I cannot imagine losing Theo, and if I carried his baby only to have it taken away, I would only want to die too."

"They explained to me at the time that they wouldn't even let me see our son, so that I did not 'grow attached to him.' Don't they realize that you become attached to the baby from the moment you first feel the presence in your womb? Rosie, promise me that when you have children, you will cherish them from the moment you know that they are there, always and forever. And if you should have a daughter that becomes pregnant outside of marriage, support her, help her care for the child."

Tears still streaming down my face, I nodded my agreement, too choked by emotions to talk.

Auntie Flo: "In fact, my Rose, send her to me, and I will help her through the pregnancy and we will raise the baby together. Please, Rose, will you promise your Auntie this? I am not that old as yet, and should have quite a few years left on this planet."

Me: "Of course, Auntie! Of course! Auntie Flo, would you be Godmother to my firstborn child, and if a boy, may I name him John?"

Auntie nodded, and we both broke down again, and just held each other, while she nodded and nodded her head. Much later, after more tea, we both finally went to bed to get a couple of hours sleep before the morning. Tears have been streaming down my face again as I write this for you, Diary.

And now it grows very late, and I must say good night, my Diary. There is much to do in the morning, as always.

Chapter Four

Critique this work

Click on the book to leave a comment about this work

All Authors (hi-speed)    All Authors (dialup)    Children    Columnists    Contact    Drama    Fiction    Grammar    Guest Book    Home    Humour    Links    Narratives    Novels    Poems    Published Authors    Reviews    September 11    Short Stories    Teen Writings    Submission Guidelines

Be sure to have a look at our Discussion Forum today to see what's
happening on The World's Favourite Literary Website.