1940 Theater
Joanne Faries

Thomas and Betty excused themselves from her parents to sit on the front stoop. Thomas tried to steal a kiss, but Betty turned her face and then pointed at the open window. She mouthed, “They’re listening, trust me.” He settled for returning a wayward curl. His hand grazed her cheek as he tucked the auburn tendril behind her ear.  

“You heard the radio reporter. France fell to the Germans. It’s time for Americans to fight,” Thomas spoke softly. “I enlisted yesterday, Betty.”  

She didn’t look at him, instead bowing forward to cradle her head in her arms and knees. She sniffled and her shoulders shook. “Don’t die on me, Thomas. You’d better live.” She gave him a tear streaked smile. “What am I going to do?”  

He kissed the ring on her finger. “You’re going to be Mrs. Thomas Albright. Work. Be a secretary. You’re going to buy bonds, clean our apartment, go to church, and write to me daily. Life in America will go on. You’ll be my harbor. Here.” Thomas grabbed Betty’s hand and splayed the fingers on his chest to indicate place. “Here, in my heart, my whole being.”  

Betty abruptly stood up, removed the ring from her finger, squinted out into the darkened theater and addressed the director. “No one is going to believe this sappy dialogue.” With that, she stomped offstage.  

The assistant leaned over to the director and whispered, “Her fiancé left for Europe yesterday.”  

First published: February, 2009
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