He sat nestled in the underground bunker and although it smelt of sweat, blood and tears, and although it was crowded and hot, Dean Blosfield was temporarily content. Despite the bombs raining down around them outside, and the constant flirting of death, he was comforted by the old letters in hand.
“Haven’t seen you smile like that in a while Blosfield.” His comrade remarked. He was nursing a bullet hole in his leg that had begun to fester and reek. “You reading letters from your missus back home?”
Dean turned the idea in his mind for a moment before replying. “No. My friend back home; a clever girl, an extraordinary story teller.”
“Is she now? Are her stories in her letters?” The comrade pressed, grunting as he peeled the bandage off his leg and spat in disgust.
“Yes. She made sure to write regularly, and sent her letters as often as she can afford. But it’s always been difficult to receive, so her letters never arrive in the right order.” Dean paused and ran his fingers over the familiar, messy, rushed cursive handwriting. They always said that her mind was connected indirectly with her hand, but it wasn’t a compliment.
Dean smiled. “Mary Anne.”
“Of course, and always.”
“Tell me about this lady of yours Dean; relieve me of this pain for a while.”
He neatened the pile of letters and stored them safely away before lying back and staring hard at the wooden panels that held up the top bunk. He could see the rosy pink cheeks with the dimple on the left hand side. Her copper hair curled into a fashionably practical bun, locks falling rebelliously out of place. Wide green eyes, luscious red lips. A beauty unmatched, so divine and yet so unfortunately poor. But Mary Anne had always been rich in spirit, in intelligence. Even wealthier in imagination.
“She told me a story once. About a party held on the moon, and that all one needed to do was to close one’s eyes and click their toes three times after kissing their elbow.”
“Impossible.” The comrade interrupted. “No one can touch their mouth to their elbow.”
“But then again,” Dean replied. “So is the party on the moon.”
The comrade settled and Dean continued. “She said that all forms of speech were to occur inside one’s mind and that in order to join a conversation, one had to zone in on the correct frequencies. Like a radio.”
In his mind, he could remember the remarkable look of concentration upon her face as she outlined the world on the moon and its endless rules. He remembered his scepticism but had indulged her anyway. And before he knew it, she had gently lured him into her imagination. Her world.
It was never dull, thought it never made much sense either. They would lie in the fields and her sweet voice eagerly sharing her stories would transport them both into another time and place. She controlled the events like a masterful puppeteer, but they always adventured together. He would wake suddenly to find her smiling down at him. A mischievous smile, as if he had missed something while dreaming.
“Mad lass you’ve got on your hands.” The comrade said.
“She was mad. But she was brilliant. She was.” Dean replied gravely, a lump forming in his throat. “But she is no more.”
The comrade was silent, sympathising. Dean closed his eyes and tried to shake away the image of her death. But her imagination had fuelled his and it was impossible not to play different scenarios of her death.
There was a shuffle from across the room and small arms encircled him. Held him close.
“Shh, it’s going to be okay. Rest now, everything’s over.”
The faint smell of soap. And Mary Anne’s voice.
Dean opened his eyes and saw her smiling at him. The same mischievous smile. “Did I miss anything?” He asked, reaching to smooth the unruly locks of hair away from her face.
“Sorry Mary Anne. Did I miss anything?”
Mary Anne rolled her eyes, but the same smile remained in place. “You always miss the best bits Dean.” She said.
He closed his eyes with a final sigh and content smile. “Sorry.”
Mary Anne held him until he grew cold before calling for the Doctor.
“In the end, he thought you were dead.” The physician remarked.
“That’s because in all my stories, I always die.” She replied.
“This isn’t a story.”
Mary Anne bowed her head. “No.”