I was intrigued by this BBC story about letters between two men in WWII, not least because the central premise echoes Promises Made Under Fire which I wrote five years ago – so here’s a snippet from that. If you remember, Tom Donald has been asked to fulfil a mission by a late comrade.
I lit a cigarette to steady my nerves. Another certainty shaken and nobody left to ask about it now. If Foden had lied concerning his wife’s whereabouts, what chance had I got of tracking her down and getting to the bottom of things? She could be anywhere.
I reached into my inside pocket, so I could check the address I had for the hospital, just in case I’d gone mad and misread it entirely. Alongside the scrap of paper I’d scribbled it on, I put my hand on a letter, one I’d left in the pocket meaning to send before I’d got on the train.
As I drew it out, cursing myself for being no end of a fool for forgetting it, I realised I’d been doubly foolish—this was the letter to Palmer, not the note to Ben which I’d intended to post. Looking at the address, I recognised the name of a village—Brookham—I’d passed through en route.
I hadn’t realised, given my appalling sense of geography, that Palmer lived so close to the hospital. If there was a heaven, and Foden had talked his way in there, he must have been looking down, shaking his head and calling me all colours of a silly sod. Still, at least I could achieve something this leave—the thing I’d been asked to do in the first place. If Palmer wasn’t at home or if he didn’t have the key to unlock the mysteries, then I’d post the letter through his door and my quest would be at a dead end.
More excerpts at the Rainbow Snippets group.