"Dorothy, I expect Jules and I will be up until the wee hours. You might as well come later tomorrow morning. The children will be fine to make their own breakfast if they don't want to wait."
Dorothy smiled as she pulled her coat from its peg behind the kitchen door. "That's fine, Mrs. Cormier. Coffee at nine-thirty?"
"Make it ten o'clock, and don't worry about staying late afterward."
The last remark was delivered with a hint of friendly warning. The last time there had been a late start, Mrs. Cormier practically had to push Dorothy out the door for six-thirty that evening.
The mother of four was in her mid-thirties who always greeted Dorothy with a smile when they met in the morning. This house was only half the size of the Monroe home and Dorothy was the only domestic. She cleaned and she cooked. When the children returned from school she put them to work, as per Mrs. Cormier's request. Three girls helped with supper and once it was eaten, they were banished to the parlour floor to do their homework while Mrs. Cormier wrote her letters to Dr. Cormier and to their oldest daughter, Caroline, who served as a nurse on board the same hospital ship. Mrs. Cormier had resumed her duties as a nurse, volunteering her skills several times a week at the hospital to train young women for the field.
That evening Julia Cormier, Dr. Cormier's sister, would arrive from Montreal. Dorothy had worried the other woman's arrival would mean she would be no longer needed, but Julia wasn't staying for long. She, too, was a nurse and would soon be going overseas.
Compared to those long treks from the Monroe household, Dorothy was in good spirits when she left the doctor's house. She had a good rapport with Polly Cormier and could actually laugh out loud while working without having to bite her lip to avoid a scolding.
She should have been skipping home every night, but instead, she shuffled her feet the moment she reached the encampment on the commons.
She missed Robbie terribly. She thought about him constantly. The sting had faded, but what was left was the ache. She was able to forget about it for only minutes at a time, and then she would be hit with the sickening wave of longing and have to live with it until the next time she was distracted enough to push it aside again.
Even going home to make supper, she knew she would take one look at the table and for just a second the feel the expectation that Robbie would soon sit down at the head, flash her that cocky grin, and make a show of shuffling the cards.
And so when she opened the door at the top of the stairs and stepped in, she almost didn't believe her eyes when she saw him sitting there. She took a deep breath and turned away to remove her coat, and it was the movement from the corner of her eyes that convinced her that she wasn't seeing things.
"Charlie let me in," he said. "He's gone to John's for the night."
"He should have checked with me, first. It's a school day tomorrow."
She hung her coat and tucked her mittens into her pocket, then rubbed her cold hands together. Looking past him, she saw a curl of steam coming from the kettle. Before him was the tea pot.
"It's hot," he said, sliding the cup forward.
Nodding, she moved past him to the cupboard. "Are you hungry?"
She went to the cupboard and pulled out a red tin. She pulled out a cranberry scone, split it open and smeared it with butter, then took her dish and an empty cup to the table.
"What are you doing here?" she asked, pouring without looking at him.
He leaned forward and clasped his hands together, watching the tea stream into her cup. "I don't know."
YOU ARE READING
Shadows May FallHistorical Fiction
Winter, 1917. Dorothy never really thought that war would take her older brother, but like so many others before him, Ian enlisted and departed Canada in khaki, leaving Dorothy to care for the youngest Gaston, Charlie. The return of her employer's s...