Jane's New Year's celebration is not so happy.
The time for Jane’s leave soon arrived and she set off home on the train feeling disappointed Tommy hadn't answered her letters.
Jane strolled out of Bedford railway station and caught a bus to the end of her street. She walked proudly along the green in her number one uniform, swinging her suitcase slightly as she went. A neighbour waved to her from a window and she smiled and waved back. Further on two young boys ran out of their garden and began marching around, saluting her as they passed. She returned their salute and laughed as she ruffled the hair of one of the boys before walking on towards her own front garden. The hedge and some of the rose bushes had been removed to make way for her dad's Hillman Minx. The car stood on some paving stones set across the lawn in two neat rows. The street door opened before she was halfway along the garden path and she put her case down as her sister Gwen dashed across to greet her, hugging her with genuine affection.
"It's great to see you, Jane, I miss you so much. I wish you could come home and see us more often."
"Military commitments," Jane said and gave a comical salute. "Come on now, let's get indoors and you can tell me all the news about you and David. I was really thrilled when I got your letter. I was so happy for you it made me cry."
Gwen gave Jane another hug, picked up her case, put her arm around her and they went inside. Her adoptive parents greeted her with a false affection and she responded in kind. Because of the way they had treated her, she felt she could never truly love them as her parents again. She also often thought of her baby. She could never forgive them for forcing her to agree to his adoption.
Jane sat with Gwen at a table by the large front window in the living room. Their father left the house for a meeting at the bowls club and she watched as he drove off. She thought, how nice it would have been if he had taken the trouble to meet her at the station. She pictured him, standing waiting proudly at the end of the platform, his arms outstretched. She would run to him out of the mist like in one of the old films. She would rush into his arms and he would lift her and swing her around before stopping to give her a fatherly kiss and a loving cuddle.
Yes, it would have been nice, but she didn't dwell on it and she looked back to Gwen. "I can't believe my little sister is getting married before me."
"Me and David want you to be chief bridesmaid."
"Chief bridesmaid! I thought you might think I was a bit too old."
"I told her that as well," their mother said, interrupting the conversation as she walked over with two cups of tea. "You should have someone young and pretty."
They both stared at her then looked back at each other, ignoring her comments.
"I want you to be chief bridesmaid, Jane. If you don't do it, I won't have one."
"Don't be so stupid," their mother said.
"Of course I'll do it, and I'm over the moon you have asked me."
Gwen took hold of Jane’s hand and kissed her on the cheek. Their mother turned to walk back to the kitchen. "Something wrong with you two," she mumbled.
"Anyway, what about you?" Gwen asked. "Tell me about this chap you've been seeing, Terry, isn't it?"
"Oh, Gwen, I really like him, I think this is it. I think he is the one for me. I feel so good when I'm with him and I'd marry him tomorrow if he asked me."
"He hasn't mentioned it yet then?"
"No, and I don't know if he will."
"I'm sure he will. He would be a fool to lose someone as nice as you." Jane smiled, hoping her sister was right. "Are you lovers though?" Gwen continued. "You know, proper lovers."
"No, not yet." Jane kept her encounter with Terry on the way back from US Air Base at West Ruislip private, where she thought it belonged.
"We are." Gwen lowered her voice to ensure she was not overheard by their mother. "We've been doing it for months now. It's such a change to our lives, so intimate, so close in our minds as well as our bodies."
"Don't let mother find out or you'll end up in the air force like me." The pause for laughter was only brief. "As for Terry, I don't know. I've only just left camp and I miss him terribly already. But he has a funny attitude, a sort of split personality. One minute he's really affectionate and telling me he loves me, the next he's a bit distant and treating me like one of the lads."
"Seduce him. It'll all change if you seduce him."
"I don't think so. Remember when I wrote to you about Stan in Cyprus, and then that flying officer creep. They're all the same. All pigs once they think they have you under their control."
"Not my David." Gwen gave a smug and contented smile. "Maybe you should have brought Terry home with you."
"I thought of it, but he's on short notice for that thing in Libya and he can't leave camp."
"Saw it on the tele', lots of trouble, riots and things. You must be worried about him going."
"Not really, that's all miles away from the air-base. I'm more worried about him going across to the pub on New Year's Eve and getting drunk. I'm sure he fancies the barmaid over there."
"Don't worry about that. All men try to chat up the barmaids; it's a male ego thing. My David does it all the time, but it never leads to anything, it's harmless."
Jane was not so sure, but she was sure if she were engaged and her fiancé continued to chat up barmaids, she would not be too pleased, but she kept the thoughts to herself. "Come on then, you can help me to unpack my stuff."
Jane was determined to enjoy her break at home but began to feel that two weeks was perhaps a bit too long to be away from Terry. The lack of response from her brother Tommy also played on her mind, and she wondered if he had listened to Ronnie and changed his mind about her. She decided if he hadn't replied to her letter by the time she returned to camp, she would make more of an effort to go over to East London to see him.
The family Christmas passed quietly and Jane was pleased when New Year's Eve arrived, the time seeming to drag for her. Gwen's fiancé David arrived at the house and walked to the New Year's party with Jane and Gwen. The evening started well, Jane was not a stranger and knew most of the people. She was up dancing most of the night and was pleased that she still seemed to be as popular as when she was a teenager. At midnight, there was plenty of kissing going on as all the revellers wished each other well for the New Year.
Jane had just kissed a couple of her old school friends when she saw David making his way over. She had no problem with David coming to kiss her, it was the normal thing to do at the New Year.
"Happy new year, Jane," he said.
Jane returned the greeting and reached across to kiss him, but as soon as their lips met, his hands were behind her neck and he was slobbering at her like a man making love. She managed to pull herself away from him and he grinned at her before walking off, but she didn't return a smile. He had annoyed her. He had gone over the top and seemed to have easily lost control of himself and she wondered if he was the right sort of man for her sister. She thought no more of it and resumed dancing with the crowd.
Because of all the revelry and kissing, Jane thought it was time to re-do her makeup. She went up to the bathroom, but it was occupied. She saw a bedroom door open and a few of the guest's coats on the bed. There was a nice big mirror on the dressing table and she thought she might as well use that.
David came out of the bathroom, looked into the bedroom and walked in as if he hadn't noticed her. "Oops, sorry, Jane," he said. "I didn't know you were up here."
"It's all right, I'm only doing my face." She stood up waiting for him to leave, but he stood looking at her. "Is there something wrong? Do you want something?"
"No, I was just looking for Gwen, but I'm glad I've caught you. I've bought Gwen a gold bracelet from a mate at work and I'm not sure if she'll like it. It's in my jacket. Do you think you could have a look and tell me what you think?"
"Of course," she replied. "If I like it, she'll like it."
David picked his jacket up off the bed as Jane walked over to him, but he dropped the jacket on a chair and closed the door. "You know, Jane, I've always fancied you," he said, with a smirk across his face, as if she should feel flattered by his statement.
"There's no bracelet, is there?"
"You know there isn't, and we both know why you followed me up here."
"Don't kid yourself, David, I didn't follow you up here. I wouldn't be seen dead with a creep like you. Now get out of the way, I want to go downstairs."
He grabbed hold of Jane’s arms and she tried to pull away from him, but he overpowered her, pulled her round and pushed her onto the bed. He fell on top of her and began to force kisses on her as she struggled against him. She was trying to get away from him, but he held her firmly. She felt his hand moving up under her dress. She was not going to let this happen and she grabbed hold of his hair and yanked hard on it, pulling his head back away from her. "If you don't let go of me I'll scream this bloody house down."
"All right, all right, just let go of my hair." She let go, but he made no attempt to get up. She pushed him away and stood up, but he grabbed her again and fell back onto the bed, pulling her on top of him. "I just want to talk to you."
"You have a funny way of talking," she said and tried to get up, but he held his arms around her tightly. "Please, David, let me go."
The bedroom door opened and Gwen walked into the room. David threw his arms up. "Just leave me alone, get off me," he shouted as he looked over to Gwen. "Thank God you're here, Gwen, get her off me, tell your crazy sister to leave me alone."
Jane pushed herself up and stood up looking across to Gwen. All she could get out was, "Gwen! Gwen, I…"
"You bloody selfish cow! How could you, how could you do this to me?"
"Wait, Gwen, it's not what you think."
Gwen wouldn't listen and she turned away and rushed off down the stairs.
David stood up, gave a laugh, and hurried after her.
Jane gathered up her make-up before following after them, down the stairs and into the kitchen. Gwen was crying in David's arms, convinced he was a victim in the matter. Their friends were filling the room, wondering what all the commotion was about.
"Gwen, we have to talk," Jane said.
"I've nothing to say to you, just go away and leave us alone."
"Will you get out of here," she screamed.
Gwen was drunk and Jane thought it would be better to talk to her when she was sober. She decided to leave and two of Gwen's friends followed her as she went to the door. "I didn't do anything, I swear. It was that pig, trying to get hold of me."
"You don't have to tell us, Jane, we all know about that scumbag. I don't know what Gwen sees in him. If she sobers up a bit I'll try to have a word with her, but usually, she won't have nothing said against him, it's like she's besotted."
Jane didn't get the opportunity to see her sister on New Year's Day. When she got up, Gwen had been home and had gone out again. It was the following day when she saw Gwen again. She walked into the kitchen with David and gave Jane a filthy look.
"Gwen, I've got to talk to you."
"I don't want nothing to do with you. I can't understand why you behaved like that."
Jane looked at David. "Why don't you act like a man for a change and tell her what happened?"
"She knows what happened. You tricked me into going into the bedroom with you and then you tried it on with me."
"What!" their mother yelled. "She did what? I warned you, Gwen, I warned you what she was like, but you wouldn't have it would you?" She turned to Jane. "How dare you? How could you after all Gwen's done for you?"
"Why don't you mind your own business?"
"Mind my own business, it is my business you immoral bitch." She raised her hand, but Jane grabbed her by the wrist and gently but firmly pushed her away.
"I'm not a child anymore, don't you ever raise your hand to me again."
"Go pack your bags and get out of my house. You're not wanted here. You've never been wanted here."
Jane looked over to Gwen. Gwen was becoming unsure and she looked at David to avoid Jane’s eyes. Jane shook her head and went up to her bedroom to pack, thinking her time here was over and she would never return.
She came down the stairs and walked out of the house without going into the living room. Although she was upset, she was also angry and slammed the door behind her without calling goodbye. Despite the weight of the bulging suitcase, she walked briskly and upright and she didn't look back.