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(A short story of 1977 words)

Vicar Up The Tree


by Clare Shaw

Set during the second world war, Isabel does not understand why everyone seems to be so uptight. The war to her is just an inconvenience. When Edward asks her to write to him at the front, all she can think of is to copy out some of Browning's letters. When Edward credits her with the maturity she does not possess, this changes everything.

We have always avoided conflict in our house, as if fearing a faintly raised voice or a critical comment could bring the bricks of our home crashing down to the ground, and our family in disarray. My mother reminds me that shouting is for fishwives, not ladies. Walking on eggshells and swallowing back anger is a way of life and it has saved us from unpleasantness. But what I am about to write, here in Daddy’s office, will cause our first family argument, of that there is no doubt. Stiff lips will weaken, and a pretence of peace will whittle away.

I blame the war. Not just because that started the chain of events leading to this letter, but because it allowed conflict to seep into everything. I was almost unaware of its impact at first, probably because I was dreadfully busy getting ready for the season. I’d been going absolutely frantic trying to get some frocks made for the Borrington’s weekend party and all I got was ‘Don’t you know there’s a war on.’

I shouldn’t have been surprised – I have always found sarcasm to be the prerogative of seamstresses and their ilk. And now, on top of everything, I’m constantly having to help Mummy who’s become frightfully distracted since Daddy went away. One day, I found her crying in the pantry. I couldn’t for the life of me think what was wrong...

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