As darkness takes colour and shadows become trees, I stand on the veranda and sigh. A cockerel crows, a bird sings as a new day begins.
My thoughts turn to my husband. Where is he? What is he doing? Will he be gazing into the beauty of a new dawn or will he be in a trench somewhere, surrounded by mud, smoke, death and the sounds of gunfire? Will he be thinking of me as I am thinking of him, or has he woken to this new day, wondering if this would be his last?
It has been months since a letter arrived from him. They say no news is good news, but I wonder about that. Every time a letter arrives, I open it, hands shaking, heart hammering in my chest. Then cry when I know it’s nothing.
I rub my arms, pull a strand of hair behind my ears and listen to the sounds of the new day. Will it bring renewed hope and a new page to write? Will there be something in the post for me today?
I turn to go inside, but a noise catches my attention. Wheels turning on the cobbles. The air turns tense, icy cold. Could this be the telegram boy with a message for me? Should I go in or wait as I am? I tremble. Panic surges through me. My stomach clenches, knots, as the wheels come closer.
But it’s only Mr Jackson, pedalling to work. He waves and forces a smile. I know he is waiting for news of his son, my husband’s closest friend. I go inside, busy myself with the simplest of chores, hoping the hours will pass quickly.
I’ve been changing the bed, dusting and sweeping, too busy to hear the letterbox or notice the letter laying on the doormat.
I recognise the handwriting. It’s from Joe. My Joe. As the first tear breaks free, the rest follow in an unbroken stream. He is alive.