Pairings/Characters: Jane Brown (mention of Danny Brown), George Anderson/Irma Anderson, Carl Bean, Maisie Delancourt, Hiram Breckinridge, Henry Brown/Della Brown
Time Period: June 6, 1944
Summary: The news of D-Day causes celebration and concern in America.
Date Of Completion: July 7, 2009
Date Of Posting: July 10, 2009
Disclaimer: Ha! None necessary. This is strictly my own work, and the characters and settings are mine. Whoo hoo! :)
Word Count: 1745
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
Author’s Notes: Piecing together what my parents told me about the events of the night that the news of D-Day reached America and researching first-hand accounts, I wrote this little tale about the World War II homefront.
All my Original Fiction can be found here.
Jane sighed as she tossed and turned in bed. It was a nice, comfortable bed, with clean sheets and a firm mattress, but the problem was that it was big enough for two, and her other half was missing, God knew where.
She stared up at the ceiling, a breeze blowing in through the screen window on this cool June night. Her husband was somewhere in England, but she had no idea where, due to tight security, and her gut knotted every time she heard talk about the Second Front opening sometime this year in Europe.
Oh, sure, there had been talk since 1942 about it, but it wasn’t a realistic possibility then, or even in 1943, not until Africa and Italy was taken care of and the factories churned out enough tanks and planes to supply a huge invasion. No, 1944 was going to be the year.
And, knowing Danny, he was going to be right in the middle of it.
She punched her pillow and tried to relax. At least she wasn’t sharing a room with several people. The house was all hers, though if the War dragged on long enough, she might consider taking in boarders. There were always girls looking for a respectable place to stay while working at the gun factory outside of town, and she had two guest rooms. She wouldn’t gouge but would charge a reasonable price for room-and-board. It would be nice to have company. Danny had been gone in the Army for two years now.
Tired of worrying, Jane finally fell asleep.
Jane came awake to the sound of church bells pealing. Was there a fire in town? She left her bed, padding over to the window. Maybe she could see the fire from here.
There was nothing but a clear night sky, stars twinkling as wisps of clouds drifted by. The treeline of the forest several yards away showed no fire, and nothing in the town skyline, either. She glanced back at her bedside clock. After midnight.
Voices drifted up and she squinted into the dark. Shapes were moving on the lawn and in the street, suddenly becoming clear as a cloud moved away from the moon.
She turned and threw on her robe, slipping on a pair of penny loafers as she hurried downstairs.
Running a hand through her blond curls, Jane grabbed her neighbor’s arm.
“Mr. Anderson, what’s going on?”
The middle-aged man turned with a smile. “The invasion’s begun!”
Jane nearly staggered back, “Oh, my God!”
He nodded as he smoothed back thinning hair. “Long time coming.”
“Yes.” She saw the worry in his eyes. He and his wife Irma had four sons in the service: one in the South Pacific as a Marine, a veteran of some of the bloodiest campaigns; one a flier stationed in England who had been on numerous bombing missions; another in the Army who’d served in Africa and Italy and had been sent to England, and the fourth one missing in action for two years after Guadalcanal. She swallowed.
People milled about excitedly in pajamas and robes with an undercurrent of nervousness. Nearly everyone had a loved one or knew someone who did who would be involved in this operation. It was just too damned big.
Several people were gathered around radios in their living rooms, lamps lending a soft glow to intent faces as seen through picture windows.
Carl Bean had his car radio on, and Jane and the Andersons walked over to join a knot of people, feet on the car’s running boards.
“…landings began on the beaches of Normandy half an hour ago. American, British, Canadian, and Free French forces are the first wave of the opening of the Second Front in Europe, designed to crush Nazi Germany between Allied forces in the West and Russian troops in the East.”
Jane curled her left hand into a fist. She noticed the announcer was not saying whether the beach landings were successful or not, but it was too soon. She was going to have to consult her globe in the library to see exactly where Normandy was. It was on the French coast, but was it North or South? She couldn’t remember.
Maisie Delancourt was shooing her two kids back into their house, her curlers covered by a red kerchief. “Great news! It’s time we started kickin’ Hitler’s butt!”
“Amen!” said Carl.
Smiles were exchanged all around, Jane joining in. It was good to feel excited about something. If everything went well, the end of the War would be in sight.
A group of people down the street began singing one of the current popular songs about doing just what Maisie had suggested, and Jane couldn’t help laughing. Old Mr. Breckinridge brought out a bottle of Jack Daniels and several glasses, and everyone toasted, “To the end of the Third Reich!” A teenage brother and sister down the street began an impromptu jitterbug, and the church bells added to the joyous celebration.
“Boy, it took awhile, but we’re finally kickin’ back,” Mr. Breckinridge said as he downed his whiskey.
Maisie was back from getting her boys back into bed, though Jane could see them at their window and watching everything. She couldn’t blame them.
“It’ll be good to see datelines from France and Germany.” She happily held out a glass for Mr. Breckinridge to pour. “Joe’s working the night shift at the factory right now and you can bet they’re celebratin’ even while they’re still churnin’ ‘em out.”
Carl nodded. “The real strength of the Allies has been our ability to churn out tanks and planes and guns. I thought FDR was crazy when he said we’d have 50,000 planes a year, but looks like he’s right.”
“FDR is runnin’ the War pretty good,” Mr. Breckinridge said.
“I agree,” said George Anderson. “He’s got sons in the line of fire, too.”
“Eleanor’s doing a good job here on the homefront with war issues. Seems like she’s put aside some of her social agitation.” Carl took a sip of whiskey.
“Well, it’s tougher with the War and all, but I don’t think she’s given those issues up,” Irma said. “She still sticks up for women in the factories.”
“What matters right now is that our boys are doing a good job,” Maisie said with satisfaction. “My nephews are in the Army and they’re seasoned veterans after Sicily and Rome.”
“I can’t wait to see the troop movements they’ll show in the paper.” Mr. Breckinridge poured Maisie more Jack Daniels.
An hour later, people began to drift back to their houses, some going back to bed while others were too excited and sat listening to the radio in their living rooms. Jane walked back with the Andersons.
“This is a very good thing,” said Irma with a smile. Her pink terrycloth robe was slightly threadbare, but no one was in a fashion contest tonight.
“That’s right, dear.” George patted his wife’s hand.
“It is,” Jane agreed. Even though her stomach was doing flip-flops, they’d been down this road before. Battles were a way of life now.
“See you in the morning,” Irma said cheerfully, and Jane waved goodnight.
The house was quiet though she could still hear voices out in the street. She debated whether or not to turn on the radio but decided to try and get some sleep.
The telephone in the hall jangled and she snatched it up.
“Jane, did you hear? The invasion’s begun!”
“I did, Mom.”
Della Brown’s speech was rapid-fire. “Henry says we won’t know anything for sure until later today. Oh, I do hope that Danny’s all right.”
“I’m sure he will be.”
“The last time we got a letter from him it looked like Swiss cheese. Damned censors!”
Jane had to agree with her mother-in-law on that. “Are you and Dad all right?”
“We’re fine, dear. Now, go to bed and try and get some sleep. Honestly, some idiot is setting off firecrackers here!” A faint pop in the background confirmed her statement. “People are spilling out into the streets like it was already the Fourth of July!!”
“They did here, too. It’s all pretty exciting. Something we can tell our grandchildren.”
Della laughed. “Yes! Good night, dear, or should I say, good morning?” A voice murmured in the background. “Yes, Henry, it’s the beginning of the end for Hitler and Company! Now, Jane, dear, trust in God and Danny will be all right.”
“Sure, Mom. Good night.”
Upstairs Jane crawled into bed after disrobing and kicking off her loafers. She had a pleasant buzz from the whiskey. Curling up on her side, she thought about the invasion and what it meant.
Danny was involved. He was a captain and men like him were valuable. He was on one of the beaches; she just knew it. If he didn’t survive…
She clenched the sheet. She wished she had her mother-in-law's faith, but the events of the last several years had pretty much made her skeptical about an all-loving God.
As a war widow she’d be well taken care of. Danny had risen to Vice President in his father’s shoe company before the War, and now the company had a fat Government contract to provide shoes for the Army. Danny had stock in the company, and was the heir. This house’s mortgage was paid by the money generated by the stock, and a comfortable living, besides.
She wouldn’t be alone. She had a good figure and was pretty, and only twenty-three. She and Danny had married in June of ’41, six months before Pearl Harbor. He was gone a year later.
The bells began to slow their pealing, her eyes closing as she felt herself beginning to drift off to sleep. She wanted to get up early in the morning and go into town to grab the newspapers. There would be special editions of The Boston Globe, The Boston Record-American, and The Worcester Telegram, and she wanted to grab a copy of The New York Times if she could. The radio would give up-to-date reports but the newspapers would give in-depth coverage.
Yes, she was well taken care of, and was far better off than most people.
Yet she didn’t want to receive that telegram from the Army, like the Andersons had gotten from the Marines two years ago.
She wanted Danny home in one piece.
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