Paper written by Vanessa Carronnier Scott.
Renee was ready. She had hated this farm ever since she had arrived and had longed for this moment. As a London kid, she could not get used to this archaic way of living. Though Mrs Jones was a nice lady, she still was out of Renee’s orbit. She had gathered her belongings in a backpack which she grabbed firmly. The moment had come.
She slipped out of the sleepy house and closed the front door. She paused for a second to stare at the keyhole. She knew her own key was lying inside with the explanatory letter she had written. There would be no coming back.
She was about to leave but felt something against her leg. “Oh, Kitty!” She knelt down to stroke the animal. “I was not going to leave without saying goodbye!” The cat had often comforted the child when she had sat alone in her candle-lit room. “Look! It’s lucky” she said as she picked up a lady bug in her palm and brought it to the cat’s pink nose. The insect soon flew away. “It’s going to its home. And now, it’s my turn to do the same” she whispered getting back to her feet.
Renee walked up the path though it was a bit of a struggle. She was already wearing her town shoes, having forgotten that wellingtons were more appropriate for the always muddy alleyway. The main road was deserted as usual. Ipswich was such a rural area. She began to walk in the gloomy weather, knowing it would take a few hours to reach town. She could see a rainbow ahead of her, not a bright coloured one, but it still gave her courage and a bit of joy…
Three hours later, an astonished employee of the station handed her a one-way ticket in exchange of her savings. Yet, she had to wait an hour on the platform of the quiet station.
Finally, she saw it! She felt a rush of excitement as the massive old machine glided towards her. Despite the lack of transport, the carriage was not busy: everybody was avoiding London. Renee sat facing a lady in uniform and smiled at her:
“-Are you going back to London because of your work? “
“-Yes, I am, unfortunately, the Blitz is not over and we are lacking doctors and nurses in the hospitals. Why is a young lady travelling alone in these circumstances? You know, it is not safe,” she added.
“-My grandmother lives alone in the countryside,” she lied, “There is not much for me to do at home, the school is gone, my friends have gone so my mother sent me to check up on her.”
“-Do you miss school?” asked the nurse.
“-I don’t really miss staring at the blackboard for hours but procrastination is not the same anymore,” she answered jokingly.
The journey slowly went on. Lunch time came and went. The woman kindly shared her cheese sandwich with Renee. A moment of solidarity in a country at war. As London drew closer, airplanes flew several times above the train. Bombs were being dropped. Renee caught a glimpse of what was happening outside but she was not quite ready to see that.
They arrived in the late afternoon. After having gratefully thanked the nurse, they parted and Renee began to walk home. It was raining. “London hasn’t changed.” She smiled and quickly got her umbrella out to walk through the unnaturally quiet streets of the capital, experiencing as much fear as joy.
Renee did get back safe and sound though she was greeted by two very angry parents. It had been an incredibly dangerous thing to do but it had left her a story to tell forever and it would regularly save her lazy grandchild from having to use her imagination to write a short story.