November 20, 1939

To my dearest Stuart,

It has been lonely without you my dear. I have tried too many times to resign myself to the fact that you were set to leave, but I had truly not thought of how lonely the nights would be without you here. I had felt so proud when I saw you standing there in your uniform, looking as dashing as any of the heroes in Marcilli’s books that she tries so hard to hide from me. I had fancied you brave beyond all measures then, but now I fear I have sent you off to your death… it scares me, love.

I hope this letter finds you well. You know how I tend to worry. But I feel like I’ve been trapped in a glass cage while the world seems to be moving on quite content without me in it.

I must sound so foolish right now – a right worry-wart.

I took a walk recently through the Hope Gardens where we would rendezvous under the blanket of the night. There is a beautiful row of fresh purple orchids in bloom this year, I would have loved for you to come and see it with me. I tried to get Ma to come along with me, but she said she wasn’t feeling well. But I know she would love to see the flowers and would have enjoyed a day out, so I intend to get her to accompany me on another day.

I would have tried to ask Father to come with me, but you understand the kind of man he is. He insists he has no time for such frivolities to be wasting his days in a garden. The man can be as stubborn as a bull these days, but he is a busy man.

He is rarely in the house these past few weeks and when he is, I feel as though his mind is a thousand miles away. Ma even cooked his favorite meal – a good Sunday roast, but he hardly touched it. He doesn’t speak much about it, but Ma has told me that Father has been getting a lot of interest in the company. It seems as though there is an investor from the United States of America who wants to do business with father, but Ma does not know the finer details and Father is being rather secretive about it.

Marcilli wishes you well. She says that she thought you looked rather handsome in your uniform – and she has made sure to warn me to keep her words secret under the threat of death, so you did not hear of that from me. She speaks highly of her new school, and she says that she has made great friends among the girls there.

She feared she would have been ostracized during her time there, but she is pleasantly surprised that the girls there had seemed just as nervous and unsure of themselves as she had been.

Oh, how I wish to be as young again. Her matters seem so trivial in comparison to ours. I long for the days when our only fear was our trysts being discovered by my father as I sneaked you out of the house. But those days are gone now, and you are away on a ship, carrying you closer to a war-torn world, and further away from my embrace.

I await your letters, my love.

Ellis

 

December 28, 1940

To my dearest Songbird,

I suppose at this time, you should be well and truly deep in the land of dreams brought by Morpheus’ guidance. As I write this, I am in the heart of London, bunkered down on a base set up for our arrival. There is not much of us here, I have counted just under 50 heads during the day, but there is news that we will be moved to meet up with the other men that have been drafted from His Majesty’s colonies in the West Indies.

Not much has happened as of yet, and as I lay here in my cot putting pen to paper, I can assure you that I have yet to see any form of action and that is not due to change. As soon as we had disembarked from the ship, we were shuttled quickly off to the camp, and have yet to see much of the city so far. The only thing I’ve seen is the odd motorcar making its way past.

The nights have been awfully cold, and I am not used to this weather. I have salvaged a glove to keep my hands warm but I fear it shan’t be enough. Some of the English boys that frequent the camp says that it will snow soon and that the weather will only get worse from here out.

I yearn for the timeless days that we wasted away together. Maybe if you were here now, the cold would not seem so bitingly cruel, but that surely is not meant to be at this time.

I miss you immensely, my sweetest Songbird.

Nothing would fill me more than to see your beautiful face once more – freckled cheeks with a smile that could blind Icarus. If you sound foolish, then I must sound like a love-struck fool – akin to a schoolboy passing notes in class. But it is not to be, my dear Songbird.

How have you been? What has been happening back home since I have been gone? Have you been keeping up with your singing? Maybe one day when I return, you can sing for me again. Has there been any news about more persons willing to join us over here in Europe? It truly would be a good sight to see more Jamaicans here – I don’t feel like we are much welcomed here. They stare at us when we walk past and shuffle away when we are being drilled.

You would think with us fighting the Germans, they wou..

I digress.

Hopefully, soon I’ll get to see you again. But for now, I will content myself with these letters – pale imitations of your voice they may be. I will have to stop here, lights will be out soon and the soldiers will be checking on us in a minute.

Sincerely yours,

Stuart.

P.S Tell Marcilli that I believe she is quite a beautiful young woman as well.

 

 

February 3, 1940

To my dearest Stuart,

I must confess, your letters have found me not in the best of spirits. Ma has fallen deathly ill since the last time I wrote you, and she seems to be getting weaker and weaker by the day. She is bedridden and rarely speaks these days. I fear there is not much more we can do than try to make her as comfortable as possible and hope she makes a swift recovery.

Marcilli has been affected the most by this. She loves Ma with all her heart, you know. She also saw Ma as invincible – if only she knew. I worry for her as well. She has not been to school for the last week. Father doesn’t know yet but I will not be the one to tell him. She stays in Ma’s room just watching – looking. I think she feels it is all one grand prank, and she’s searching for the punchline that will never come.

I will have to speak with her soon. She cannot continue like this.

Father is as busy as ever. He leaves the house for an indefinite number of days, only to return with his hands filled with papers and files and documents. Ma’s illness seems as though it has hardly affected him, far too occupied with more ‘important’ matters.

A lot has changed since you left.

The Walters’ son has said he would be joining his ‘fellow men’ over in Europe. Mr. Walter seems inclined to allow him to volunteer but the Missus made quite the scene when she heard about his decision. I cannot blame her though, he is her only son. She does not want to lose him to this war that is not even ours to fight.

But he is resolute. He says his English teacher fought in the Great War, and it made him a man. So now it is his turn to become a man.

Now ask me, what does a 17-year-old boy know about being a man?

My singing has been going well. Just last week I was complimented for it when I had gone to the market. I was singing to myself and I had realized that the stranger walking behind had heard my small tune. He said I had an intoxicating voice, something he would love to listen to again.

I’m sure he had his ulterior motives but I’ll take the compliments where I can.

I hope one day I can finally get the chance to perform for a crowd so large I can barely tell where it ends. I’ve seen pictures, you know, of the London streets and the women walking by looking like the belle of the ball. Maybe one day, we can walk those same streets together you know.

Father says my head is stuck in the clouds.

I say the clouds have the best view.

Sending you my love and warmth,

Ellis

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