Edith worked a drill press in the engine plant. The noise she allowed her long periods alone with her thoughts. When she broke for lunch it was different. She joined the rest of the girls in the canteen, talking of soldier boys or the gossip of the day. Or sometimes gathering in consolation for a girl who’d received news from the front.
Edith liked the drill press. Getting the drilling right was important. There were boys in the air every day relying on well-built engines. Boys like Charley. Every time she brought the drill down she thought of him. One day he might be flying on this engine.
One afternoon, immersed in her thoughts as usual, she turned off the machine to clear a burr, looked around and realised none of the others were at their stations. She must have missed the siren.
She was about to head to the shelter when a figure emerged from the shadows, the silhouette of a uniformed man.
‘Can I help you?’ she asked.
He stepped forward.
Edith gasped. She threw down her apron. ‘Charley. Oh, Charley. Charley.’ For there he was, arms outstretched for her.
All around, from behind machines and partition walls the faces popped out beaming. When she kissed him they cheered and whistled. The Spitfire Brunettes. They’d done it again.
2011—Richard Holt / small stories about love (smallstoriesaboutlove.wordpress.com)