Dancing in the Rain
He walks into his small office and seems to have a purpose in his stride. I watch him, awed, as he goes in and quietly closes the door. I glance at Robbie with confusion in my eyes.
"What's going on with Mr Allen?" I ask as quietly as I can; Robbie's eyes flick to the door and he sighs.
"He won't go to fight and he has to tell the Government why," Robbie tells me; I look back at the door sympathetically.
"Poor Mr Allen," I murmur, "He shouldn't have to go war if he doesn't want to," I say; Robbie makes an unconvinced noise in the back of his throat. I look at him through narrowed eyes. "You aren't honestly thinking of signing up for the army, are you Robbie?" I demand incredulously; he shifts slightly and the duster slips from between my fingers. He catches it quickly and hands it back to me; instinctively, I curl my fingers around the firm wooden handle.
"Addie, relax. I've seen the war in the paper-"
"That you can't read," I splutter; Robbie glowers. He does not like that he cannot read. His father needed him to work beside him at the factory so Robbie never got the chance to go to school. I offered to teach him, but his pride refused him to be taught by a woman.
"I've seen pictures," He mutters; I shake with fear.
"But not photographs," I tell him hollowly; I have known Robbie my whole life. When he makes his mind up, it would take a miracle to change it. I slide down the wall, unable to hold myself up. Robbie is going to sign for the army when he turns 18 in 3 days. My heart constricts and my chest feels tight. I have always been able to count on Robbie being there for me, he has been the one constant in my life. I cannot imagine my life without him.
The door opens and Mr Allen walks out stiffly; I look up at him, unable to get the stunned expression off my face.
"Morning, Mr Allen," I manage to whisper; he glances down at me.
"Hello Addie," He nods slightly; I smile and rest my head against the wall. I rest my eyes and fear fills me from all sides. Robbie wants to die for England. Fear fills my lungs and I struggle to breathe. Robbie leans over me and looks at me worriedly.
"Addie," He shakes me roughly and my throat closes; real fear, I think in terror as I try to suck in air. "Addie, what's wrong?" He shakes me again and I feel the heat burning my face. Breathe, Addie, someone has to convince Robbie that he has gone mad. The words echo around my head and I take in a frightened gasp. I have a plan, my conscience whispers, a smile in her voice. I struggle to my feet and refuse to look at Robbie. "Addie?" He says softly; I do not turn to face him.
"You want to join the army, Robert?" I enquire icily; I do not need to look to see him jolt at being called Robert.
"I have to Addie, you know I have to." He snaps, matching my quiet anger; I bite my lip. I cannot stay mad at Robbie. I turn and look at him, not hiding my fear.
"No!" I cry forcefully. "You don't have to fight Robbie; Mr Allen is proof that you don't have to fight!" I remind him hysterically; Robbie's warm brown eyes seem hard and cut off.
"Yeah?" He retorts. "So if men have a choice about whether or not to fight, why does Mr Allen have to justify himself to the government?" He demands; an idea strikes me.
"Because the government is made up of men who cannot see further than the ends of their noses." I snap; Robbie looks at me, surprised. I am not usually so worked up about things.
"Addie, relax." Robbie mutters as he turns to leave.
"Why don't we see why Mr Allen won't fight," I call after him; he pauses for a moment, but stalks off down the corridor. My heart sinks.
I turn to Mr Allen's door and flick my eyes up and down the corridor. Mr Allen would not want me snooping through his things, but I need to show Robbie why he should stay here. My pulse quickens as I slip into Mr Allen's office and close the door quietly behind me. The fire is burning out and the ashes are a burning orange; I smile. It is so cosy. I go over to his desk and sit down nervously on his leather chair; I sink into it, not used to the comfort. It is still warm from Mr Allen's presence; I chew on my lip and sit cross-legged as I search quietly for the letter. I find something in his top drawer that looks promising and I unfold it carefully. I flick my eyes over Mr Allen's neat writing, not taking in the words. I swivel the chair so I am facing away from the door, and staring at the large family portrait that Mr Allen keeps over his desk. I look down at the letter and my heart pounds furiously against my ribs and fear fills me. Do I really want to know the contents of this letter? Yes, I snap irritably, I have to show Robbie how stupid he is, I think firmly; I take a deep breath and let Mr Allen's words paint a picture in my mind...