A Wartime Evacuee

by Andrew Passey

Part 14

The last day at school was a relaxed affair as they usually were. It had that end of term feeling which is unforgettable. The relief that something has ended and the excitement of the potential of the weeks ahead, The teachers didn't seem too bothered about anyone doing any work so we were able to just hang out, play games and chat. Like most of the kids I guess the teachers were just totally knackered after a busy year at school and who could blame them!

It wasn't just the stresses and strains of school and work that affected everyone. We were in the midst of the largest war the world had ever seen. While the war didn't intrude itself on a hourly basis it was never far from people's minds. The rations, the radio broadcasts, the knowledge someone you knew might be in danger at that very moment. It was exhausting at times and even though at thirteen years old most of it went over my head it was always there in the background.

Death and loss went hand in hand with war and I'd certainly suffered some of that thanks to the Nazis. While it was always there in the background it did feel so far away from our small little part of Shropshire. It was definitely more real and felt closer when I lived in London. After all, what can be more real than the subject of your first kiss being blown up by a bomb? Still, at this moment with school coming to a close for a number of weeks there was definitely a celebratory feel in the air.

At the end of lunchtime Jeremy popped by my classroom to wish me and Fred a good summer saying loudly that he'd no doubt see a lot of us and if anyone troubled or bullied me let him know and he'd sort them out. It seemed Jeremy was a bit of a hero to some of the boys in our school so him taking an interest in me certainly helped with me being respected. It felt good to know that he was there in the background if anything happened that me and Fred couldn't handle.

The school bell went for the last time and then we were free! We were both demob happy as we walked up the hill back home. It was such a relief to be free! We barely had any chores to do so with no homework there was a relaxing evening ahead. Edith had cooked a delicious meal which was impressive given the rationing! Although my ration book had made its way to the Candlins now so that did mean there was a bit more food coming in. George was on good form as well. At the end of the meal he gave a bit of a speech about it being a big milestone in a boy's life to finish that particular school year. It seemed over egging it a bit to me and it was only later in our bedroom that Fred told me between giggles that his Dad did that speech every school year and sometimes even when term finished!

All in all I was very happy with life. The swim with Jeremy had really helped and the shadow of Mr Arse was slightly retreating. Best of all there was no school and I could hang out all day with Fred. Later that evening in our room we made some tentative plans of what we wanted to do over the holidays. Some exploring, some hanging out with friends playing games. I did also suggest we go to the private swimming spot that Jeremy showed me one day soon. However, as soon as I said that Fred's reaction surprised me.

"I am not going swimming in that fucking river!" He said hotly.

"Um, alright, just a thought. Sorry," I said blushing with embarrassment at having upset him. What had I done wrong I wondered.

He looked at me and sighed. I could see that his anger had disappeared. "Sorry Tom, I overreacted. It's just....that's the river that Simon drowned in. I've not been in it since and don't think I want to go in it ever again."

I felt terrible at that and cursed how thoughtless I'd been. I'd only thought of myself and had totally forgotten about what happened to Simon. I apologised again and he waved it off. It didn't stop me feeling bad though and that probably contributed towards me waking up in the middle of the night not and sweaty from the return of my nightmare.

It had been the same as before. I was in William's room. He did the whole can I kiss you routine. This time as William leaned in to kiss me his face started blistering and melting off. "William!" I screamed before the bomb exploded and I woke up.

"Shh Tom, it's ok," Fed said, stroking my arm gently.

"Sorry I woke you," I said feeling guilty as well as shaken by the nightmare.

"Don't worry. I was already awake anyway, I had a bit of a nightmare too. I guess what we talked about earlier brought some memories back. At least it's the holidays so we can catch up on sleep in the morning. I know you said you didn't want to talk about your nightmares before but do you want to now? You shouted a name out. William I think. Was he in your dream?" He asked, still stroking my arm gently.

I was at a crossroads. I could just not tell Fred about it and I knew he'd understand. However nightmares have power when it's just you on your own. If I shared it with him maybe that would help? Yes I'd have to admit to being kissed by a boy but I decided it was time to tell all about my dream. Not only for myself but I probably owed it to Fred. After all, it wasn't like I hadn't woken him up enough with it! Not that there was too much to tell about the nightmare anyway but there was no point keeping it from Fred. All that had happened was that I'd been kissed by another boy. And then he died. Nothing more, nothing less. At least that's what I told myself.

I took a deep breath and thought about what to say., "Yes, William...he was my best friend. In the dream it's usually the same and it always ends the same way. I'm in William's bedroom sitting on his bed next to him. He asks me...he asks.......if he can kiss me. I nod and he then leans forward. Our lips touch and then I hear the sound of the bomb falling above. It explodes and we both burn to death."

"Fucking hell that sounds terrible. Did any of the nightmare actually happen? I mean clearly you didn't burn to death," Fred asked softly.

"Yes some of it definitely. In real life the bomb drops on his house that night when I'm already back home. It kills him and his family. It would have been me dead as well if it had happened when I was in his room."

Fred moved his hand down to squeeze my hand. "Oh god Tom. I'm so sorry. You've lost your best friend too. You should have said that before now. No wonder you have so many nightmares. So....er......like the kissing bit...was that real?" He asked, sounding nervous. I grinned slightly in the darkness as I liked the thought of him wanting to know if it was true or not. Then I stopped grinning as I remembered the memory. It still hurt and I imagined it always was.

"Yes it was. Our first kiss and our last one," I said softly.

We were both quiet then and I wondered if Fred had fallen back asleep. That feeling was in the air again but as our breathing settled and got slower it seemed to disappear. I was beginning to drift off to sleep a s assumed Fred had already. So it was a bit of a surprise when he spoke.

"Tom?" He asked softly

"Yes Fred?" I replied wondering what he was going to ask. Had he been thinking about it all that time or had it just come to him?

"If I....if I asked....if I asked if I could.......um. Actually, don't worry about that. We can talk in the morning. Sleep well," he said.

"You too Fred," I whispered back but my mind was racing. What was he going to ask me and why did he change his mind? Had he lost his bottle? I guess it was too late to find out now but I hoped I'd get an answer at some point.

I woke very early in the warm sunshine of a July morning. Fred was still asleep next to me. I looked at him sleeping peacefully. He looked so innocent like that. He also looked incredibly cute and attractive. His dark hair falling onto his forehead. He'd thrown the blanket off his legs and if I wanted to I probably could have edged it up so I could see his dick and balls. Well they'd be covered with his nightclothes but even so it was tempting! The thought made me harden and I felt guilty about that. So I resisted and lay back down before falling back asleep.

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