Isn’t the picture perfect for Valentine’s Day? Anyway, my story is below – I’m not too familiar with using first person, so this was a good exercise :)
We sat together on the bench, all three of us.
Irving, of course, sat in the middle, trying very hard to concentrate on a flyer advertising chewing gum, while Gus and I tried to sneak furtive little glances at each other. I tried desperately to think of something to say, but the steady drip of snow falling from the station eaves pounded my brain into a complete blank. A ray of sun slipped across my hand, inspiring me to say, “What wonderful weather we’re having!”
Gus nodded his head jerkily, agreeing with too much eagerness.
“Too damp for my taste,” noted Irving, creasing the ad carefully.
We slipped into silence again, the three of us staring intently at the train steaming on the tracks. Five minutes! called the conductor, and more soldiers began to funnel into the cars. Gus and I turned to each other, blurting out at the same time, “Don’t forget to write!”
“Are you kidding?” grinned Irving. “Not write to you two? What kind of brother and best friend would that make me?”
We glared at him.
If only my parents liked Gus, we wouldn’t have to constantly be separated by well-meaning friends and siblings. We weren’t even engaged yet, as Gus was too afraid, and rightly so, that my father would make it a flat ‘no.’ So we had to go on like we were, my parents only tolerating Gus and I’s friendship.
The whistle blew, my dreary thoughts whisked away on a cold breeze. I looked at Gus again, finding him staring hard at me. I smiled back.
Then Irving looked gravely at his watch, and I knew. Solemnly, we all stood up. I loved my brother too, but I dearly wished he weren’t there at that moment. But then I remembered, he was the only reason I could see Gus off. After breakfast, I had begged my parents to let me go with Gus to the station, and they had summarily refused. Then Irving had looked up from his duffel bag, stating in his usual good-natured tone, that since his train was leaving only two hours after Gus’, he might as well go with us.
The whistle blew again, and Irving gave me a nudge. “You’re allowed to say goodbye, you know,” said he.
“Goodbye,” I whispered hoarsely, steam smarting at my eyes.
“Goodbye girlie,” Gus answered, and that was that. He walked away, turning every few steps to wave at me and Irving. Then the train swallowed him up, and I looked around, suddenly noticing the gaggles of people scattered about the station. There were other sweethearts, wives, and children there too, beginning to wave hankies as the station emptied of men. I stood up straighter, determined to show a brave face. But then Gus’ head popped out one of the windows and he gave me another one of his small little waves, and all I could remember was my single, stiffly croaked out word, “Goodbye.” I saw it following him down the railroad tracks, across the ocean, and over the hills of France, the thing he would remember most of our last meeting.
I burst into tears and ducked behind Irving, ruining all that good fur on my sleeve with my sniffling. Irving whirled around in surprise, and I could see through my watercolor vision that he was frowning. I didn’t care. Then I saw him shrug, a reckless grin replacing his frown. I gave a little gasp when he swept me up, the station and the stares of the onlookers swirling around me as he marched to the train. And in a moment, there I was in Irving’s arms, kissing Gus.
The train started to pull away, and I dropped back down to earth, but now I was laughing through my tears, waving furiously at Gus.
Irving and I watched as Gus got smaller, and just before he disappeared around a bend, I saw his head stick out as he yelled back to me, “I’m gonna marry you, girlie! You tell your parents I said so!”
Well, I was mad at him then. Easy for him to make me the messenger. But I was too sad to be mad long, and by fits of determination I tried to persuade myself to tell mother and father. But as it happened, I didn’t have to.
Mother and father know. But I didn’t tell them.
You see, there was a photographer at the train station that day. It was the cover story for last week’s edition. I’ve enclosed the picture for you. As you can see, we might have gotten away with it too, if Irving’s smiling face hadn’t been so clear. He should count himself lucky to be all the way in France right now.
But I’m glad that my parents know. I’ve been getting them used to the idea, and they’re coming around to it. Next leave you get, I expect to be Mrs. August Brown!
All my love,