Once I walked through the front door of the house Grandmother Maxine was coming down the stairs. She looked and smiled at me then walked through to the kitchen where a big black pot was boiling on the stove of the cooker.
I followed her into the kitchen and went over to the table and sat down in the chair slowly, then sighed miserably.
Grandmother looked over her shoulder at me andgave me a concerned look "what is it, child?" she asked.
"I received my first three passionate kisses from a boy I might never see again!" I cried, tears flowed down my cheeks.
The corners of her mouth spread into a warm smile, "of course you will see him again," she assured me.
"How can you be so sure?" I asked, a bit of hope perked mea bit of seeng Jack Pascal again.
"My dear, I'm old and wise. I know these things."
I stood up feeling happier and gave her a hug "thank you, Grandmother," I said cheerfully. I went upstairs and went in to check on Gene. He was fast asleep in his bed curled up in a ball. I tiptoed over to his bed and gave him a peck on the cheek making him stir slightly but then fell silent. I walked out of the room then tiptoed to my bedroom and shut the door quietly to have a shower to get ready for supper.
There was a big flash of light that flickered off across the night sky reflecting on my bedroom walls. It was lightning. Soon big rumbles of thunder could be heard along with sounds of torrential rain pounding against the walls, roof, and windows of the house. Another flash of lightning striked across the sky.
I awoke during the night to hear Gene's upset little voice.
"Zoe, Zoe, I'm scared. Can I come in?"
"Of course, you can," I replied, getting out of bed and walked across the room in the darkness as I turned the bedroom doorknob and opened it.
Gene threw himself into my arms and hugged me tightly.
I stroked the back of his head gently like a mother would to soothe her son or daughter's fears and then took his hand in mine over to the bed. "Do you want to sleep with me tonight?" I asked in a motherly tone of voice.
He nodded as I helped him up onto the bed and under the duvet. I slipped in afterwards.
"It's alright now, Gene, I'm here. I wo't let that horrible thunderstorm harm you," I assured him.
Gene smiled and hugged me and I hugged him back.
We soon fell asleep with our arms around each other.
The day had finally arrived of Papa's return home from the Second World War after a year of fighting. Grandmother Maxine and I were busily getting the house tiptop condition for his return. Gene was upstairs with Mrs Greenfield the part time nanny for him.
Mrs Greenfield was a very nice, sweet lady in her late fifties. She had children of her who were all grown up and married with children of their own. I liked her from the moment I set eyes on her; Mrs Greenfield had been with us for two years now.
I dusted around from top to bottom, hovered, washed clothes, and tidied around.
Grandmother sipped her hot tea and sat down comfortably on the green chair in the living room and closed her eyes with exhaustion.
I sat down heavily in the wooden rocker chair that used to be Mama's by the gasfire and I closed my eyes as well.
We didn't know how long we had been sleeping for but Grandmother Maxine and I immediately leapt up from our seats to the front door opening and someone stepping into the house closing the door behind them. We rushed to the front door where we gasped in shock st seeing Papa at long last again.
Papa turned to us and outstretched his arms towards us. His war uniform was spotlessly clean and he looked very handsome for a father, I must say. Except he hadn't shaved for a few days, a short beard had started to grow on his chin.
"Don't I get a welcome home hug from my two favourite girls?" he said, sounding a bit hurt.
Grandmother and I giggled and ran into his arms and hugged him tightly.
"I've missed you terribly, Papa!" I cried as tears of happiness streamed down my cheeks.
"Oh, Zoe, my lovely and beautiful Zoe, the spitting image of your beautiful mother, Jane. There hasn't been a day when I have not thought about you and not missed you, Gene, and Grandmother here," He hugged me tightly and kissed my cheek and forehead tenderly as a father should. He looked around and a look of disappointment overtook the look of happiness just now. "Where is my little boy?"
"I put gene to bed around five 'o' clock so better not to wake him," Grandmother Maxine said.
Papa couldn't have that so he ran up the stairs to Gene's bedroom.
I and Grandmother hurried up after him.
Papa burst into Gene's bedroom and kissed his little cheek gently.
Gene slowly stirred rubbing the slee out of his eyes with his fists. When he saw Papa was home he threw his arms round him. "Papa!" he cried, happily.
"Hey, kiddo, how have you been?" Papa asked.
"Fine, so glad you're home," Gene tightened his arms around Papa.
"Glad to be back. Now you go back to sleep and I'll see you in the morning, sleep tight, little man," he told Gene, before standing up from the bed and walked out the room. Papa didn't seem to acknowledge that Grandmother and I were standing there. He just walked down the stairs. "Bring me my dinner, Zoe," he ordered in a strange, bossy voice he hadn't spoken with with me before.
"Yes, Papa," I said quickly, unsure how to respond to an order like that from your father.
"And make it snappy, I'm starving," he replied.
I quickly glanced over at Grandmother with worry in my blue eyes. Her small grey eyes looked troubled as well by Papa's strange but quick personality change behaviour.
She shook her head sadly.
"What is it, Grandmother Maxine?" I asked concerned. My heart was pounding against my chest.
"I just hope this is just a passing phase your father is going through from the war. If not... then," her grey eyes looked at me. "Then your father may be suffering from after war affects which could lead to meannes and alcoholism."
"Oh, no!" I gasped in horror at the thoguht of my loving Papa turning into an alcoholic, mean father.
I had made Papa's favourite meal - bangers and mash potato with gravy but he had just stared down at it in disgust that night.
"What is this rubbish?" he asked.
I looked bewildered; Papa didn't like bangers and mash anymore? But that was his favourite meal. I guess not anymore.
An hour had passed and Papa was still at the kitchen table staring off into space with an odd look on his face. I said goodnight to Grandmother and to Papa who didn't notice. I hated seeing him like this. I hated to admit this but he scared me a little.
Papa drew himself from the table and stood up to his full height of six foot two then walked towards the front door. He glanced back over his shoulder and saw Grandmother and I looking shocked he was going out already. "I need a drink so I'm going down to the pub, back later," he said, then left shutting the door after him.
Grandmother Maxine and I lookd at each other each of us feeling ever so worried about him.
If that was what papa was like now, I wonder what he would be like when he was very drunk.
I dreaded to think.