John D. Ritchie
Despite the warmth of the evening, I shivered nervously as I waited. I was standing by the big silver cigar they call The Skylon, its wide-set supports leaning inward as though sharing and spreading heavy loads. It had been erected for the Festival of Britain, the nation-wide celebration of our recovery from the war, though I couldn't see much evidence of recovery; 1951 and we still had food rationing!
Still, there was always Harry; my beau from Baltimore. He had promised to return from the States once he got out of the Navy in December, and meet me here on the night of June 6th. He'd said so in all his lovely letters.
Out of uniform I didn't recognise him. His hair was longer and he looked older than I remembered, as though he had been ill.
"Carol?" he said, as if he didn't recognise me either.
"Harry? You look so different."
"Not Harry, Carol. I'm Joe. Harry's brother. I'm sorry, Harry isn't coming."
"He was killed by a drunk driver on New Year's. I'm really sorry."
"But, I had a letter only two weeks..."
"Carol. Harry couldn't read or write. I wrote all the letters for him."
Suddenly dizzy, I turned and leaned on the cold stone of the Thames Embankment parapet and stared down into the sluggish waters of the river.
I felt a gentle hand on my shoulder.
"He loved you Carol". Joe paused, then whispered "And so do I."
It was then the tears came.
First published: February, 2007
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