It’s all going too well. Lots of words (quantity certainly) written so far on my writer’s break in Lowestoft, Suffolk, England. Tess of Portelet Manor won’t, however, be out before early next year. But here’s a bit I wrote yesterday which you might/might not like.
It is a few months before the end of the German Occupation of Jersey in 1945.
‘Good morning. May I join you on the wall?’
Tess glanced to her left. It was a young German soldier in dark green uniform. She shrugged and looked away. The soldier swung his legs over the wall and sat down.
‘The people are happy about the supply ship, yes?’
Tess shrugged, didn’t look his way and didn’t bother answering. The young soldier seemed to take no offence. He reached inside his tunic jacket and extracted a paper package. Opening it he took out a chunk of bread, maybe a sandwich, and took a bite. He joined Tess in gazing out across the harbour and bay.
‘May I offer you a sandwich?’ The soldier held out the package towards her.
‘No thank you.’ Her manners defeated her diffidence.
‘It is cheese.’ Silence reigned. Tess was used to advances from the soldiers and was quite used to treating them with contempt, and to the crude remarks that would follow. But she had not tasted cheese in a year or more.
‘One day soon, all this will be over. No more fighting. We will live in peace once more. We will all be reunited with our loved ones. Germany will be punished for its aggression. And, in time, we will return to this island in a spirit of friendship, not as occupiers. And we will ask forgiveness and bring tokens of our regret for our actions. I will not meet you then, so today I offer you this sandwich now as my personal token of regret. Take it, please.’
She turned and looked at him for the first time, her eyes brimming with tears. She saw a boy, no older than she, with blue eyes and short, blond hair under his cap. Just a boy, with a mother and father at home, maybe brothers and sisters. A girlfriend perhaps. And she took the sandwich without a word.