|One Monday afternoon in late February, Jo Maynard was sitting in the lounge, reading, when she heard the front door open. Expecting it to be Robin and Daisy arriving home from school, she continued with her book. She was, therefore, somewhat surprised, when a shadow fell across her. She glanced up to see her husband standing in front of her, smiling.|
“Jack!” Jo dropped her book and jumped up to hug him. “What are you doing here? When did you get back? How long are you home for?”
Jack returned the hug, kissing her.
“Give me chance, Jo,” he protested. “I have ten days leave, though it’s taken me a full day to get here.”
“That’s wonderful.” Jo stood on tiptoes to kiss him once more, before letting go. “Go and change and I’ll put the kettle on.” Jack acquiesced and departed upstairs to change out of his uniform. Jo went through to the kitchen and turned the ring on under the kettle, before dropping some leaves into the teapot and getting the cups out. Jack came in and sat down at the table with a sigh. Jo brought the pot over and sat down opposite him.
“Are you all right, Jack?” Jo looked at him, concern in her eyes.
“I’m just tired, Jo. I’ve been travelling for the past twenty-four hours and had very little sleep.”
“Are you sure it’s just tiredness?”
“I’m sure.” Jack took her hand in his across the table. “I’d tell you if there was anything else. I don’t want us to have secrets from each other. Now, how about you pour that tea? I’m thirsty.” Jo did as she was asked, though she still looked unconvinced. Just as they finished, the front door opened again, this time to admit Robin and Daisy. They chattered away as they shed their coats and hats, before entering the kitchen.
They both shrieked at the same time as they saw him sitting at the table. Jack smiled at them, pleased to see their excitement. However tired he was, the happiness he had created by being back was worth the effort. Here, he knew he had a loving wife and an adopted family, who would always welcome him with open arms. Jo poured more tea and the girls told them about what they had been up to at school that day.
“Daisy and I will cook tonight,” Robin announced as Jo poured the last dregs from the pot.
“Yes. You two can be waited on tonight,” Daisy added, enthusiastically.
“Will it be safe to eat?” Jack asked.
“Of course.” Robin looked a little offended at this comment.
“I’m sure it will be lovely, Jack.” Jo hastened to reassure them. “They generally cook a couple of times each week and it’s very tasty. Don’t you two have some prep to do first, though?”
“Yes. We’d better get that out of the way. Grab the bags, Daisy, while I clear the table.” Robin picked the teapot up and took it over to the sink, whilst Daisy went to fetch their school bags.
“We’ll wash up. You two go and change first, or your clothes will be in a state tomorrow, and I have no wish to feel Matey’s wrath when you turn up in crumpled uniforms,” Jo told them. She stood up and flung a tea towel at Jack, who deftly caught it, then came over to the sink and waited patiently for Jo to start. Once they had finished, they left the girls to do their preparation at the kitchen table. Jack sat down on the sofa in the lounge, wrapping an arm around Jo as she curled up next to him. They sat in silence for a short while.
“What would you say about maybe moving over to England?”
“A number of reasons. It would be easier for me to get home on leave, to start with. It takes me a whole day to travel here, and that’s if I’m in time to catch the boat. I have ten days leave, now, but I only get to spend eight of them with you at the moment. If you were in England, it would be a lot easier for me to get home.”
Jo remained silent, thinking this over. Jack looked at her, noticing she didn’t look as well as she should. She had been out of the Sanatorium for the past seven months, but he had been called up almost immediately after war broke out, barely two months after her discharge and only a few weeks after their marriage.
“They’re probably going to try and invade France, soon. If they do that, we are only a few miles away from there. Since we had to flee Austria, it would be far safer for you to be in England.”
“Do you really think they will?” Jo looked worried at this. Jack held her tighter as he realised the implications of what he had just told her.
“I hope they won’t, but I’d rather be safe than sorry.”
“I wish you hadn’t told me that, Jack. I’m already worrying enough about you, without worrying about myself as well.”
“That’s why I think you should be in England. I’m willing to bet that your sister will be going soon, and the school too.” Jo didn’t answer immediately.
“But where would I go? I haven’t lived in England since I was twelve and I don’t feel as if I want to go back to Taverton.”
“I’ll have a word with Jem. He’ll have to move the Sanatorium somewhere. Since that’s where my official job is, we should move to within a reasonable distance of that. You’ll also be near your sister, then.” Jo just nodded. She felt a little overwhelmed by it all and needed time to try and make sense of it.
“Dinner’s ready,” Daisy announced, appearing in the doorway. Jo stood up, relieved at the intrusion.
They enjoyed the meal Robin and Daisy had prepared for them and, once they had washed up, they all sat chatting in the lounge for a while. Jo suddenly noticed the time and told Robin and Daisy that it was time for bed. Daisy tried to argue, but Jo was adamant, stating that they had school the next morning. Robin pulled Daisy up and they went upstairs to bed, after wishing Jack and Jo goodnight.
“How long do you have up, now, Jo?”
“Twelve hours. Jem finally allowed it last month.”
“It’s taken you a long time to reach that. What happened?”
“You went to war. I couldn’t stop worrying when you went back just before Christmas. Especially since you’d been home on sick leave. Jem threatened to re-admit me when he found out I wasn’t eating properly.” Jack pulled her into his arms at this confession. He knew she worried and that her vivid imagination sometimes carried her too far, but he hadn’t realised things had got so bad.
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
“What could you have done? You were in France. That was the problem.”
“That doesn’t mean I don’t care what happens to you, Jo.”
“I know. But I didn’t tell Jem, either. He has his own methods of finding things out.” Jack smiled to himself at this comment. He had a shrewd suspicion how Jem had found out, though he wasn’t going to tell Jo that. The clock chimed ten and Jo stood up to go to bed.
“Are you coming, too, Jack?”
“I’ll just make us a drink, first.” He went into the kitchen and Jo slowly mounted the stairs. She was soon ready and was sitting in bed, when Jack appeared with a drink in each hand. He passed one to Jo and placed his own on the bedside cabinet. Once she had finished her drink, Jo snuggled under the covers and Jack was quick to follow. They curled up together, Jack laying his arm protectively over Jo, before they were both sound asleep, only waking when Robin and Daisy disturbed them the next morning.
Jo climbed out of bed to go and check they had both eaten breakfast and had all they needed for school. She waved them off, before making a tray up and taking it back up to the bedroom. Jack sat up as she came back in and took the tray from her. She climbed back into bed and they ate in a companionable silence.
“Did you have any plans for today, Jo?
“Only to go into St Peter Port. We need to buy some food, especially since we don’t have enough in to feed you, as well.”
“Shall we do that this morning? Then we can have a lazy afternoon alone, until Robin and Daisy get back.”
“Good plan. They’re bound to have passed on the news that you’re home and I won’t get you to myself again for the rest of the week,” Jo said, lightly, but Jack heard the bitter note in her voice.
“Of course you will, Jo. I’ll make sure of that. I came home to spend my time with you, not with everyone else.”
“But I’ve had so little time with you. Even last time, when you were home on sick leave, you always seemed to be busy, and spent an awful lot of time with Jem.”
“I’m a doctor. My time is never my own. You should know that.”
“But you aren’t doing that at the moment. Or, at least, you aren’t doing it here.” Jack understood her meaning, even if it wasn’t clearly expressed.
“I have to keep up to date with medicine, though. If I don’t, I’ll have no idea what’s happening when I do go back to my proper job.” Jo was silent as she digested this information. “I promise I won’t spend all my time at the Sanatorium.”
“You can spend a couple of hours there on Thursday, since I have my next appointment, then.”
“Fair enough. Now, if we want to get to St Peter Port and back before lunch, we really should get ready.” Jo agreed and started to fling the covers back. “Hang on a minute, Jo. You’ll have tea everywhere if you’re not careful.” He picked the tray up and Jo moved with a little more caution.
They spent the morning as planned. Jo managed to get what they needed and they were soon heading back home. Jo made them a sandwich and departed upstairs to rest after they had eaten. Jack paced around downstairs for a while, before going upstairs to lay on the bed with her. Jo rolled over and snuggled up to him, falling asleep with her arm across his chest. Jack just lay there, quietly. He was glad to be home again, but he found it strange. He loved Jo. Of that, he had no doubts, but they had spent such a short time together as husband and wife. They had barely had chance to get to know each other in those few weeks before he had been called up. He wished the war hadn’t happened, but then realised that if Hitler hadn’t annexed Austria, their engagement may never have come about, or certainly not so quickly. His eyes closed and he slept.
When Jo woke an hour later, she saw Jack sleeping next to her. She watched him, glad he was back home, even if it was for such a short time. She missed his company when he wasn’t there and she worried about him being in France. She slipped off the bed without disturbing him and went downstairs to make a drink.
When Jack woke, it was late afternoon. He glanced at the clock and groaned. He slowly got up from the bed and made his way downstairs. He looked in the lounge and saw it was empty. He found Jo at the kitchen table, preparing vegetables. She looked up at him with a smile as he entered. He came and sat opposite her, helping himself to a handful of carrots that she had just chopped.
“They’re for dinner!” she exclaimed. He just grinned and ate the few he had managed to grab. “If you want to be useful, go and put the kettle on.” Jack did as he was told, making a pot of tea for them. Once Jo had finished, she wiped the table clean and they went to sit in the lounge together.
“What do you want to do, tomorrow, Jo?”
“I’d quite like to go for a walk if it’s fine. I haven’t been out in a while and could do with some fresh air.”
“Fair enough. As long you don’t try to overdo it, while we’re out.”
“That’s not very likely, if I’m with you, is it? And I have my appointment the next day, so I don’t want Jem’s wrath, as well.” Jack just smiled at this retort. He suspected that she hadn’t been out walking since he had received his call up papers. He didn’t want her to stay cooped up indoors all the time, but knew she would be wary of doing too much.
The next morning, they set off not long after Robin and Daisy had departed for school. Jack matched his normally fast pace to Jo’s much slower one. They wandered along towards the cliffs, enjoying the chance to be out in the fresh air. It was a fine morning, but cold and breezy. Jack saw that Jo looked a little less pale, the wind having stung some colour into her cheeks. When they reached the cliffs, he suggested they sit down for a brief rest. Jo agreed easily. She was tiring, but didn’t want to admit it and have to go back home so soon. They sat on some rocks, Jack wrapping his arm around her shoulders. Jo leaned into him as she concentrated on catching her breath. When he was sure that she was breathing normally again, he stood back up. Hauling Jo to her feet, they continued along the cliff path for a little way.
“I think we should turn back, now. I don’t like the look of those clouds out to sea,” Jack said.
“It does look rather ominous. I hope we can make it to shelter before it rains.” They turned and started to retrace their steps, Jo linking her arm into Jack’s. He smiled down at her, glad to be able to have some time alone with her. They made it back to the cottage just as the first drops started to fall.
“I’ll put the kettle on.” Jack disappeared into the kitchen, leaving Jo to go slowly into the lounge. She stoked the fire back up and then dropped onto the sofa, relieved to be back home. She felt tired, but was determined not to show it. Jack came in and sat down alongside her. They drank their tea, before Jack pulled her into him.
“That was the first time you’ve been out for a walk since I got called up, wasn’t it?” Jo just nodded. She had been scared by how quickly she had ended up back in bed through her own recklessness. She didn’t want to repeat that experience, especially now Jack was away. She knew Jem would have no hesitation in taking her back to the Sanatorium. Jack understood her reluctance, but knew he had to encourage her to start going out again.
“Let’s build slowly on today. I know you won’t be up to much for the next couple of days, but we could go out for a short walk on Saturday and see how you go. If you go out every day, you’ll build your stamina back up.”
“But what if I do too much again? I don’t want to end up back in bed. I’ve seen enough of that to last a lifetime.”
“I’ll be with you for the next few days. I promise not to let you get carried away, but you have to be honest and tell me when you’ve had enough.”
“Once I’ve gone, I’m sure someone will come with you, if you don’t want to go on your own.” Jo nodded her agreement and Jack smiled at her. “You’ll get there, Jo. I know you will.” He dropped a kiss onto her head and she leaned back into him.