Jane gets married to Bob and Terry has regrets.
Bob had still not returned to the barrack room by the time Mark and I left the block on our way to breakfast. When we entered the dining hall I looked around at all the tables, but there was no sign of Bob or Jane.
After breakfast, I walked into the crowded restroom at the MT section. Bob was sitting in one of the easy chairs and I nodded to him.
Bob stood up and walked over. "Nice to see you, Terry, when did you get back?"
"Last Wednesday, when did you get back?"
"About ten minutes ago. I thought we weren't gonna make it for a while. Have you heard the good news about me and Jane?"
"I've heard no good news." I turned my back on Bob before he could continue the conversation and walked out of the restroom, making my way to the WRAF room.
Jane was sitting talking to Mandy when I walked in, she was slightly shocked by my appearance. She stood up and smiled at me. "You're back then. It's really good to see you, Terry."
I looked at Mandy. "Can you give us a minute?"
"Course, I've got to see the corporal anyway." She gave me a smile and set off to the control office.
"Getting married then, Jane?" I said, almost sarcastically.
"Yeah, and me not even thirty yet."
"Why didn't you tell me? Why didn't you answer my letters?"
"Letters, what letters, Terry? I didn't get any letters, did I?"
"I wrote to you. Seven times I wrote to you. Surely you must have got one of them?"
"Honestly, I swear I didn't get one. Terry, I was so disappointed, I thought you didn't care about me. Then I got the news that my brother Tommy had been killed in a road accident."
"Oh, Jane, I'm so sorry. Have you been down there?"
"I can phone, get Marion to meet you if you like."
"No, Terry. I'm not going there again, and I don't really want to talk about it. About the letters, are you sure you addressed them right?"
"Yeah, I addressed them right." I gave a long sigh. "I don't know, I don't know what's going on, I don't know what to say to you. Are you happy about getting married? That's a stupid question I suppose."
"No it isn't. I want to get married, Terry, I really do. I need someone, and if I have to settle for second best then I will, but if you've got any other ideas just say the word. You only have to say it, Terry, and I'll go through there and tell him it's off."
I took a deep breath and looked down to the floor briefly before looking back at her. "Have you slept with him?"
"Oh, Terry, Terry, what does that matter?"
"Have you slept with him?"
"Why are you asking that? You must know I have, but I thought you weren't interested. We can make a go of it, Terry, if you really want to. What has happened between me and Bob, does it really matter as long as we get things right between us?"
I looked at her for a moment before answering. I was torturing myself picturing her making love with Bob, imagining every passionate detail in my mind. "It doesn't matter at all really, does it? Anyway, I'm not old enough to get married, am I? I wish you all the luck for the future, Jane, and with Bob, I think somehow you're gonna need some."
"Terry, please, please don't walk away from me like this. I love you, Terry, you know I love you and I swear to God, I swear to God I didn't get a letter from you. If you did write to me that proves you care about me as well."
"What do you mean? Do you think I didn't write, do you think that I'm lying?"
"No, Terry, I didn't say that."
"There's only one liar in here, only one cheater. Engaged to him and standing there telling me how much you love me. Do you get some kind of sadistic kick out of hurting people or something?" Jane stood looking at me, speechless and unprepared for my sudden verbal attack on her. I continued, "Perhaps, Vinny was right about you."
"That's not bloody fair, Terry," she shouted. "Remember that time when we were walking back from the pub to your house, you said…"
"Yeah, no doubt what you told me then was just a story to get some attention."
"How dare you, how dare you say that to me. If I were a man I'd bloody well punch you on the nose."
I looked at her, knowing my comments had caused her distress. I felt a strong urge to take her in my arms and cuddle her, but I could still see pictures in my mind, pictures of her lying naked under Bob, pulling at his hair and calling out his name. "Forget it, Jane, just forget it." I stormed off out of the room without another word.
I hurried off past the main restroom and along the yard, not really knowing why or where I was going. I turned into the vehicle wash bay and walked out of sight of the office where I began cursing myself. I kicked a broom and sent it spinning across the concrete, and then kicked at a plastic water tub showering myself in water in the process. "WRAF's, bloody WRAF's," I shouted. "I knew I shouldn't get involved with them." I sat on a wall with tears filling my eyes as I thought about Jane and thought about what I had lost. I dearly wanted to run back down the yard and into her arms, but the jealousy demon had squatted in my mind, and neither of us were going anywhere.
The weeks soon passed. I was no longer seen on camp at weekends unless I was on duty. Other times I would be in East London. I started to work weekends with my friend Brian, who had become a foreman in his uncle's demolition company. When I was on camp I would either spend my time in my room or at The White Horse public house in the town centre.
The marriage went ahead as planned. They had the reception at a nearby hall and although I was invited, I didn't attend. Bob was due for discharge three weeks after the wedding and Jane arranged to leave the WRAF to set up home with him in Sheffield.
A week after they were de-mobbed and left camp, I was walking across the transport yard when Corporal Sawyer called out to me. "Terry, can you take the mail across?"
I walked over and took the bundle. "There's a BFPO letter for Jock. He's lucky to get that," I said. "The BFPO service is crap."
"What makes you say that? I've never had any trouble."
"When I was in El Adem, none of my letters got through."
"Yes they did. Mark had a few letters from you. He used to come over and give us your news."
"Yeah, I know Mark's got through, but that's all."
"What, your parents didn't get any?"
"And I noticed six or seven come through for Jane."
I laughed, more from sarcasm than happiness. "No, they didn't."
"I saw them myself, blue airmail BFPO letters with Jane Dale's name on the front, and yours on the back."
"She told me she didn't get any."
"Well she's been having you on mate."
I walked across and sorted the letters in the rack before walking around to the WRAF restroom.
Mandy was alone, sitting reading a magazine when I walked in. She looked up with the usual smile noticeably missing from her face. "It's all right, don't bother knocking."
"I knew it. She's been lying all along, hasn't she?"
"I might be able to answer that, Terry, if I knew what the hell you were talking about."
"Jane got my letters, all of them."
"No, she didn't."
"Corporal Sawyer just asked me to bring the letters across to the rack. The game's over, Mandy."
"And what game is that? The game where you play the part of a complete idiot? Or the game where you destroy a girl who worships the ground you walk on?"
"It was her fault. She got my letters, and she still went off with him."
"She did not get the letters; if she did she would have told me."
"Corporal Sawyer said he sent my letters across to the letter rack. So he's lying then is he?"
Mandy jumped up from her seat. "You just wait here," she said, and hurried from the room. She was soon back and dropped Jock's letter onto the coffee table.
"You've nicked Jock's letter."
"Yeah. Easy, wasn't it?"
"Are you saying that…Are you saying..." Realisation suddenly struck me hard and I shook my head in despair as I looked vacantly around the room, thinking maybe I had got it all wrong. "Bob, do you think it might have been Bob?"
"You work it out, Terry." She picked up the letter and handed it to me. "Get out of here, and take that letter back to the rack. You’re a fool, Terry, and you lost a truly special girl because you wouldn't believe her. The things she told me about her past would shock and depress anyone. Her life has been full of people abusing her and letting her down, and you, you were just another on a long list of selfish bastards. I just pray that Bob gives her the love and attention that she hopes for and deserves."