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It was early December, and Jo was drying the pots as Jack washed up after breakfast. Jo’s hand was healing well now, and it was no longer bandaged. It felt strange to her, but Jack assured her that it would improve, as she started to use it more. Jack had been back home for two weeks and was feeling much better than when he had arrived. He had spent quite a lot of time sleeping and Jo had been inclined to worry over him. He had managed to alleviate her worst fears, telling her it was the best thing for him. Just as they were finishing the washing up, they heard the rattle of the letterbox. Jo went to pick the mail up and sorted it on the kitchen table. She picked her letters up and went off to read them in the lounge. Jack collected his, but stayed to read them at the kitchen table. When he had finished he put the kettle on, and made a drink for them both. Taking the cups through, he went to sit beside Jo, who was reading a lengthy screed from an old school friend. She looked at Jack with a smile.

“Anything of interest?” he asked, as he passed her a cup.

“Thank you. Just a letter from Mary Burnett. Yours?”

“Nothing exciting, I’m afraid. I have to go and see the medical board next week, though. They’ll be sending me back before long.” Jo’s smile faded at this news. She had known it would happen but, she had secretly hoped he would be home for longer. Jack put his arm around her, pulling her in to him. She leaned her head on his shoulder.

“You knew it must come, Jo.”

“I know that, but it doesn’t make it any easier.”

“But if it’s to rid the world of something evil, surely it’s a small price to pay? You’re one of the lucky ones, Jo. You have family to support you. Many women watch their loved ones go, knowing they have no one else.” He cupped her face in his hands, looking into her eyes, full of unshed tears. “As hard as it is for you, it’s just as hard for me. I want to stay here and look after you but, I know I have to do what I can to help those who are fighting for us.” He kissed her gently, before drawing her back into his arms. They stayed like that for a long time, both reluctant to let go.

An unexpected knock at the door finally broke them apart. Jo slowly went to answer it. Whoever she had expected, it wasn’t the person standing there.

“Frieda!” she cried, before pulling her, quickly, into her arms. Frieda returned the hug. Both were so happy to see each other, they never gave a thought to the door which stood wide open, letting the cold rain in on them. Jack had heard Jo’s cry and came to see for himself. Frieda broke away from Jo to greet him, and he returned it, happily, before suggesting that they should close the door before anyone caught a chill. Taking Frieda’s coat from her, he sent them into the lounge, before going into the kitchen to make a fresh pot of tea. When it was ready he took it through, joining the two women, who were both rather tearful. While they were talking, Jo suddenly noticed a gleam of gold on her friend’s left hand. She wanted to know when it had happened and who the lucky man was. Frieda blushed, telling them that she had married another of the doctors from the Sonnalpe Sanatorium. Both Jo and Jack were overjoyed to hear this news and that he was also safe. Jo enquired why he hadn’t come with her, but Frieda informed them that he had had other things to do that morning. Eventually, Frieda noticed the time and reluctantly took her leave as she was expected elsewhere. Promising that she and her husband would come to dinner one night next week, she left them alone once more.



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