All in the Mind
Author: Jenny Twist
Genre: Mainstream/Historical/Speculative Romance
Tilly was dreaming.
It was VE Day and they were dancing in the streets. All the lights were lit. She kept looking at them, not quite believing it.
She was dancing with Johnny, her head against his chest, exhilarated by his closeness and the knowledge that the war was over.
It was so real, the dream. She could feel the rough fabric of his greatcoat against her cheek, smell its particular aroma of damp wool and tobacco.
She felt the dream slipping away and tried to hold on to it, but it escaped her grasp and shifted seamlessly into memory.
They had danced late into the night. Long after the gates to the nurses' home were locked. Eventually, exhausted and intoxicated with the euphoria of the crowd, they had walked back to the nurses' home and he had given her a leg up to climb the wall.
And as she sat at the top of the wall, one leg on each side, getting ready to swing over to the other side, he had grasped her by the ankle and said, “Will you marry me, Tilly? As soon as I'm demobbed.”
She looked down at his face, illuminated by the one street lamp in the lane, one lock of hair hanging over his forehead, his expression earnest and pleading.
She said the first thing that came into her head. “You're supposed to get down on one knee.”
“OK,” he said, with a grin, and dropped down on one knee. Did he know? Did he know then what her answer would be?
“Tilly”... he began in a loud, theatrical voice.
“No, get up,” she whispered urgently. “Someone might hear.”
“Who cares? What are they going to do – sack you?”
She smiled back at him in the lamplight. “You fool!”
And she pulled her leg out of his grasp and dropped gracefully down to the grass on the other side.
“Well?” His head appeared over the top of the wall. “Will you?”
“Yes,” she whispered back to him. Then she picked up the skirts of her uniform and ran across the lawn towards the darkened building.
As she ran, she heard someone whistling the Wedding March, the sound fading as he reached the end of the lane and turned into the street.