The Silver Roses
"Okay, okay! Let her breathe!"
"Give her space!"
"Don't you know what she's just been through?"
These were the main things I heard that Thursday afternoon. Over and over again. In the ambulance, the hospital, everywhere! There was a man in a white outfit.
"Jenifer? Can you hear me?" It must have been the doctor.
"Sammy, where's Sammy?" I suddenly said, wincing a bit. My side was killing me. Another person came into the room.
"Oh Jenifer!" it was my mother. She obviously still loved me! The year was 1945. The Great War was coming to an end. This is how I nearly lost my life, saving a friends'.
My story starts near the beginning of the war, when I was evacuated. The year was 1944.
"MOTHER!" I yelled down the stairs. "FATHER!"
"Yes?" said father.
"Where is my breakfast in bed? Don't you know what day it is?" I demanded.
"Yes and George has not got me my breakfast. Where is he? Why have you got my suitcase? Are we going on Holiday! Oh gosh I LOVE HOLIDAYS! Where are we going? Paris? America? Italy-" Father raised his hand and silenced me.
"Your mother and I are not going anywhere. You are." I stared at him, still not getting the message.
"YAY!" I yelled, clapping my hands.
"What do you mean yay?" Father asked looking concerned.
"You and Mother are letting me go on holiday on my own and you're going to let me choose where I go! I am so excited!"
"Not…exactly. You know that there is a war on? And children being sent away? Well, For your own safety, we are sending you away. And of course we will write and you will come back home as soon as you can." He was balancing me on one knee and his intelligent eyes looking into my…not quite so intelligent eyes.
"Excuse me? You are sending me away? Don't you love me? I bet this was all your idea just so you and mother could have some quality time together and not with me!" I jumped off his knee and was about to run off when mother came into the room.
"Good morning Jenifer."
"Mother. Are you part of fathers little scheme to send me away for who knows how long just so you can be with him?" She looked at me, then at father and back to me again.
"Look. Jenifer, we are sending you away for your own safety. Wars are extremely dangerous you know." But by this time, I was already half way up the stairs, not hearing a word any of them said. My eyes filled with tears as I slammed my bedroom door shut.
I looked around my bedroom for probably the last time in my whole life. Would our luxurious house be bombed to bits? I was so terrified. I lay down onto my bed and hadn't realized how much time I'd been in there when I heard a light knock at the door.
"Jenifer? It's lunch time now. Do you want to come and eat something or shall we bring it up to you?" It was mother. I glared at her which probably gave the sign that I was not hungry at this minute.
The rest of the day was long and boring and I was so terrified. Tomorrow I had to leave my home forever (as it seemed to me) and my parents. I didn't get any sleep that night. I just gazed up at the ceiling and around my room. Hours later, a speck of light came through the window and we had to leave soon. A few hours went by and I soon decided to have breakfast. I was about to call George, but then remembered what happened the day before. I heaved myself up and plodded down the stairs.
"Good morning, mother." I scowled at her and wandered into the kitchen. "Where are the cereal bowls? And where is the toaster and the bread?" Mother looked up from the Sunday telegraph and pointed into a cupboard for the bowls, another cupboard for the cereal, and…you get the idea!
" Listen dear," she said calmly. " This is all for your own safety, we still love you…"
"I DON'T CARE ABOUT MY SAFETY!" I snapped at her. I felt liquid pouring onto my hand and I realized it was the milk. "Do I have to clean this up?" I asked rudely when no one came with a towel. Mother sighed and came to mop it up.
" When you are away, you have to be polite. If you spill something, you have to clean it up. George won't come coming to the rescue!" She looked at me, and that was when I knew, they did care for me. This was all for my safety, and if they didn't survive, well, they'd want me to survive. I hugged her and tried my hardest to keep back the tears, but I just couldn't. They spilled down my cheeks.
The following day was so busy. When mother and I arrived at the station, we didn't know the first place to go to! Obviously, we finally made it to the train. I showed the ticket master my ticket, and got on board. My seat was by the window and I could see mother.
"Mother!" I shouted. She turned around and hurried towards me.
" Now, Jenifer, you be a good, polite girl, okay? And keep safe!" The train started to move, and mother disappeared into the crowds of wailing mothers and fathers. It was so sad. All those parents, having to leave their children. I closed the window and sat on my chair. There were two other children who entered my cabin. They looked like a brother and sister. They had the same red hair, freckle invaded faces, and they had the same nose. The girl had her hair tied up in two plaits and the boys hair was a mess! Their faces looked slightly tear stained, but they looked like brave kids.
"Hello" I said politely.
"Hello" said the boy.
"What are your names? If you don't mind me asking,"
"I'm Danny. And this is my sister, Lauren."
"Nice to meet you."
They sat down on the opposite seats. Lauren started reading and Danny fell asleep.
A few hours had gone by, and we had stopped many times. Danny and Lauren had left at the last stop, and I was still waiting. Finally, I was called. I gathered up my belongings, with the help of the instructor, and I hopped off the train. I was at a small platform, way out in the country.
"Here is your case, miss" said the instructor. And with that, he went to make sure all the children for this stop had evacuated the train. I turned around and followed everyone else to a little… hut, to put it simply. It was a bit like a waiting room with a tuck shop. I looked at the clock above the door. 2:45pm. I was to be collected at 3:00pm. The time passed quicker than I'd expected. In that 15 minutes, I had brought an apple and a chocolate for the journey. Sadly, I got hungry and ate the apple, but luckily I still had the chocolate. A lady arrived at 3:02pm saying she was looking for a "Jenifer Smith". Well, that was me.
" I am Jenifer" I said and the lady walked over to me. She smiled and picked up one of my bags.
"Are you ready to go then?" she asked with a huge smile spread across her cheeks.
"Sure." I replied.
On the way, I found out many things.
The lady's name was Catherine Jones
The countryside smells bad
Catherine has 4 children
That's about it.
We finally arrived at 4:00pm at The Jones' house. It was a biggish cottage, thatched roof and all. As we drove up the driveway, 3 dogs appeared out of no-where! All barking mad! There was a Dalmatian, a Jack Russell, and a Great Dane. That was one of the things Catherine left out. Dogs.
"Oh, never mind the dogs, they are all very friendly and just get excited around visitors." She said that without a care in the world. I gingerly stepped out the car when it came to a stop, and at once I was surrounded. The dogs were sniffing me everywhere! Well, The Jack Russell could only sniff my feet to my knees, but the other two went higher than that (and I will not go into detail!).
"What are the dogs names?" I asked clambering back into the car.
"Don't be scared Jen!"
"It's Jennifer." I said.
"All right, All right! Settle down now." At first I thought she was talking to me, but she was talking to the dogs. "The little one, the Jack Russell, is called Jack. What a surprise! The Dalmatian is called Bella, and the Great Dane is called Henry." She said. A man came out of the house and helped haul the dogs off me.
"Hello!" he said in a jolly tone.
"Hi." I said back.
" I am Thomas. You must be Jennifer?"
" Yes. That is me." The dogs were finally under control, so I stepped out of the car and Catherine led me into the house.
"The kids will be coming home from school in half an hour, so you can make your self at home. You will be sharing a room with my youngest daughter, Sammy." I followed her as she showed me to my bedroom.
It was a reasonable sized bedroom. Not too messy, or too small. Big enough to fit 2 people in.
"Where am I going to sleep? There is only one bed,"
"Don't you worry! We have a spare. Thomas is getting it right now."
Oh-no. She was treating me like a 5 year old! I would not be treated this way! But I didn't want to go some place else because I had had enough journeys for one day. Catherine left me to get my things out. I hadn't realized how fast time had gone by until I heard children's voices. At first I thought, 'Whose that?' but then I looked out the window and remembered. There were two girls and two boys. There was a really tall boy. He looked about 19 or 20. The second boy looked a lot younger. Probably 16? And then there were the girls. I couldn't tell which one would be older, but they both looked around my age(14). Catherine came out the front door and welcomed them home like mothers do. Then as 3 of the children went in, Catherine stopped one of the girls and started speaking to her. Then she looked up to the window where I was, and then pointed at me. The girl looked up and smiled then waved. That must have been Sammy. She looked like a sweet kid. She had short black hair, no longer than shoulder length. She had Light green eyes too. The eyes were what caught my attention. They were so…so…Bright! I then realized her face expression. She was looking at me as though I was a freak. What was wrong? Oh. Maybe because I was staring at her since she came home. I smiled then got away from the window. Not too long after, she came skipping up the stairs.
"I'm Sammy. Nice to meet you…"
"Jenifer. My names Jenifer."
"Can I call you Jen?"
"Why not? Jenifer is too long."
"Oh well. I like my name being long. You have a problem with that?"
"Umm, no, I was just asking if I could call you that but it doesn't look like it so I won't."
So it wasn't the best start. As the afternoon went on, Sammy and I seemed to get along really well. I found out that her middle name is Elizabeth, her sister's name is Grace and her 2 brothers names are Nicholas (the younger one) and Michael. (the older one-obviously!) Dinner that evening was delightful. We had sausages and mash potatoes. Talk about rationing! They got their sausages their own pigs, and they grew their own potatoes and other vegetables too. They didn't just have pigs. They had cows and sheep too! We didn't have anything for desert. I didn't want anything either. We had a great evening, playing games like shirades. All the fears of the war just disappeared. I went to bed at 9:15, because I was exhausted. Sammy came up 10 minutes later apparently, but I wouldn't know because I was already taken over by a world of dreams.
That night, I started off with a wonderful dream. But it slowly turned into a nightmare. It began when there was no such thing as a war, I was running through Poppy fields, and it was a really nice day. I was running with mother, we were laughing and it was so realistic. But then some army planes flew over head. We were heading towards the town Sammy lived in, and so were the planes. We were running over a hill, and we could see the town, just appearing into view, but the planes had already gotten there. I saw bombs falling out the sky and hitting Sammy's little cottage. I turned around to look for mother, but she was gone.
I woke up sweating like a turkey at Christmas. It was horrible.
"Jenifer?" Sammy rolled over and sat up in the dark. "Are you alright?"
"Yes, I'm fine. I just had a nightmare." Tears started falling down my cheeks but I wiped them away before Sammy could see I was crying.
"OK, try to get back to sleep. It's like… 3 in the morning."
We lay there for a moment. Not a single word.
"Can I show you something?"
"What? Now? At this time of night? Where is it?"
"Well, it's outside. Not very far… I go there sometimes when I'm feeling down or just bored. I honestly think it's prettier in the moonlight. I call it the secret place because it feels like I'm the only one who knows about it."
"Ok then," I said wearily.
We got up quickly and quietly and headed to the back door. Sammy brought a torch, because it was dark in the house, and there were some dark parts near the secret place. As Sammy opened the door, a gust of cold night air attacked my face. This woke me up. It wasn't too cold after that. We got used to the weather quite quickly. We had to go through a few fields before we came to a group of trees. It was like a small woodland area, with a small river running through it.
"Is this it?" I asked.
"Yes. But there is more. The other day I came down here and built a small bridge. It's really stable. Come on!"
I followed her down passed the main bit of the river, until we came to a few long logs and stones.
"I'll go first." Sammy said quietly.
I followed the same route she did, and I didn't get my feet wet! We walked on a bit until we came to a tiny, tiny field with roses. Under the moonlight they looked silver. It was a beautiful sight.
"Jenifer? Did you close the door after you?"
"Did you close the door when we left?"
"I think so… Why?"
We stayed at the field for a while. It didn't seem like very long until I couldn't feel my fingers anymore.
"Can we go back home? I'm getting cold-"
"Wait a few more minutes…"
Sammy didn't need to explain. The sky was coming a light pink and orange colour.
"Sunrise." We both said.
"Beautiful- isn't it?"
"Yes. It's wonderful."
"Come on. We should get back now before everyone else gets up. And you won't want to be late for your first day of school!"
"My fist day of WHAT?"
Sammy was already heading back.
"Sammy, wait!" I caught up with her a bit too slowly. She was already crossing the bridge before I caught up. I grabbed her by the shoulder and made her face me.
"This is only my second day here- and I'm already going to school?"
"Yes. You have a problem with that?"
"I do as a matter of fact. I will not be told what to do by someone your age! I still need time to settle in and feel at home before I can start thinking about school!"
"Wow. City people are obnoxious." And with that, she strolled off. I stalked after her in a mood now, but I was feeling hungry.
We got home 10 minutes before everyone came downstairs. We had some toast for breakfast, and had to leave for school at 7:30. We had to walk because Catherine and Thomas were really busy and had no time to take us. We got to school at 8-ish and I was surprised at how many people weren't staring at the new girl. Obviously Michael didn't come to school because he was too old. He was thinking about joining the army, which Catherine thought was a horrible idea, but Thomas thought it was great. It went something a little bit like this;
Michael came home one evening, not too late. About 8:30.
"Mum, dad? I have something to tell you."
"What is it dear?" Catherine said.
"Well, firstly, don't make a big deal-"
"Alright! Just tell us what it is!" That was Thomas talking.
"Okay. I'm going to join the army."
Silence filled the once joyful room.
"Well that's just brilliant!" Thomas was about to go over and give his son a big manly hug.
"Oh-no, it's NOT!" Catherine's head nearly exploded that night. She was furious with him, but that was 3 days before I arrived, and everything seemed fine.
"Hi Sammy! Whose this?" A girl- must've been a friend of Sammy's- came up to us with an even bigger smile than Sammy had on the first day I met her.
"Emily, this is Jenifer."
"Hi Jenifer. Do you mind if I call you-
"If you are about to say Jen, don't bother."
Emily shut her mouth and put her hands behind her back to make herself look innocent. School wasn't that bad. A lot of the subjects I found easy, but in a fun way. Everyone seemed to like me- including the boys, I'm embarrassed to say! I was having a good time until a group of older girls came up to us. They looked like right old snobs! I know that's mean, but it's true!
"Hello, Sammy." Said the first girl, who looked like the leader of their group.
"Hello, Charlotte," Sammy said sourly.
"And you must be- what was it? Jenifer?"
"Yes, that's right. And you must be-What was it? Charlotte?"
A few people were crowding round now. It seemed like no one would ever talk to her like that. And no one would ever talk to me like that. She looked like Nicolas's height. Probably in the same year. She was a couple of inches taller than me, but I wasn't afraid.
I walked up to her, and Sammy tried to hold me back, but I kept going. I walked up to her so we were almost nose to nose.
"Listen here Charlotte, and listen good." I spoke so quietly that only we could hear each other. "I am not the type who gets embarrassed-ok? Now you stop being a brat, and get lost- you hear?"
"Ooh! Someone's getting grouchy! Okay kiddo. I listened to you now you listen to me. I rule this school. I say what's what and what's not. At the moment, you are on my what's not list."
And with that, we scowled at each other and stalked off in the directions we came from.
"Come on Jenifer, you don't want to get on the wrong side of Charlotte,"
"Hey. Does that girl bully you?"
"Do you get embarrassed every single day of your school life?"
"Do you need someone to stand up for you?"
"But what? You have been going to school for how many years, and she has bullied you since that first day. If you haven't stuck up for yourself, I don't know how you're going to live!"
"But Jenifer!" She moaned. "I don't want to get in a fight because who bloody knows what might happen to me afterwards. Or, to you in this case. Charlotte always wins her fights! She gets everything she has ever wanted,"
"Yes. So do I. Well, I did when I was at home in London,"
This was the first time I had actually thought about my mother and father since I arrived. I had to write to them sometime.
"Come on Sammy. Let's go."
As soon as we arrived back at Sammy's house, I went upstairs and looked for the little writing kit I had brought with me. I found it after a long scrambling through my stuff and nearly pulling all my hair out. I found a pen and started writing.
'Dear mother and father,
I am missing you terribly, but I am having a great time here with the Jones family. They are all very nice, especially their daughter Sammy. I went to school today and I had a good time. I nearly got in a fight, believe it or not! But I am not hurt, so everything is fine. I hope you get this letter as soon as possible.
I folded it up neatly and put it in the envelope. I asked Thomas to take it to the post office when he next went into the village. Sammy and I helped each other with homework and after that we helped Catherine With dinner. It wasn't as special as the first night of my arrival, but it was still something. We had vegetable soup and I thought it looked way to watery, but it wasn't.
On Friday at school, the headmaster, Mr. Baxter was talking to us in assembly about Sports Day.
"What's sports day?" I asked Sammy.
"You don't know what Sports Day is?"
She looked at me like I was insane.
"Well, I never had it in my last school-" I began
"Ha! No wander!" she interrupted. "Sports day is really good. It's where you do sports- Obviously- and the team that gets the most points wins a trophy."
"When you say sports…"
"Sports meaning running, javelin, long and high jump. And there is also an obstacle course."
"So what are you going to do?"
Sammy thought about it for a moment.
"I might do the long jump. I'm really good at it. I was runner-up last year."
Wow. For someone small, she must have had a lot of power in her legs.
"What shall I do?"
"Well…we'll go past the notice board. It will say what races are still available."
So we walked past the hall to the notice board. It was surprising to see how many people had already put their names down- but there was only a couple of people there at the time.
"Would you rather do a running activity or one of the others?"
"I don't know…"
"I think you should try the 400m."
"Oh don't worry. It's only one lap around the field."
"You'll be fine!"
And with that, she wrote my name down and started walking off.
"Hey- wait! I don't even know if I want to take part!"
"Well, your name's down so you are."
She suddenly stopped. Uh-oh. She had an idea.
"What's your amazing plan this time?"
"We can start training! Yeah! We can have a club. What shall the club be called?"
Oh-no. I just new this would end in a disaster.
"Just a question. Who will be in this…club?"
"Anyone not including boys."
"And will it just be for the running? Or other stuff aswell?"
Sammy looked at me as if she was going to laugh at something I said.
"No I'm serious. Will it be for different things?"
"If you like yeah. Good idea Jenifer."
I thought for a moment.
"Right about what?"
"Jenifer is too long. Please. Call me Jen."
It had been exactly one week since my arrival. It turned out that Michael did join the army. He announced that he would be going somewhere- I can't remember the name- and would leave tomorrow. Sammy and I heard Catherine crying in her bedroom later that night. We went to comfort her but she told us to go to bed. We didn't go to bed. We went outside to the stream. The spring days were slowly becoming Summer days, and Sports day was getting closer. We were allowed to go on the field and practice. It turned out that I was quite a fast runner! We hadn't said much about the club, but it was still sitting there at the back of my mind.
"Sammy, you the club we were thinking of doing?"
"Yes- what about it?"
"Well, we should think about a club name and when we should meet and who will be in it,"
"Well, what do you think we should call it?"
"Umm…" I thought for a moment and an image of the roses under the moonlight appeared in my head. "How about the Silver Roses?"
"Silver Roses?" She looked like she was going to laugh. I blushed and looked away. "I like it!"
"You do?" I asked, astonished because I thought she would choose something completely different.
The days were getting longer, and the evenings were getting lighter. It was a Wednesday afternoon, and it would be a week until Sports Day. Everyone was training hard, and the Silver Roses was beginning to progress. So far, we had 5 girls who were in the club- including Sammy and me. The 3 girls who joined were some close friends of Sammy. Of course, there was Emily, the first girl who joined. A few days later, Jessica and Olivia Brown joined the club. 5 was a good number because it wasn't too big or too small. Every week we would join at Sammy's house and do random things like girls do. A lot of the time we would just run round one of the many fields the Sammy's family own. When we got back from school, Catherine gave me an envelope.
"I think its from your parents,"
Without thinking, I grabbed it from her un-expecting hands and ripped it open. I recognized mothers elegant hand writing at once.
I'm so sorry I haven't replied for so long! It's been so busy. There have been many bombs and air raids. But don't worry, we are safe.
You said in your letter that you nearly got in a fight? That is not acceptable, as you should know, but as long as you are okay.
I have to go know, and remember to keep safe.
I almost cried when I read the letter. It didn't feel like long ago when I left London to come to the countryside.
"Jen? You're unusually quiet- what's the matter?"
"Oh, nothing- just a bit homesick, that's all."
For dinner we had some vegetable soup, and then we went into the living room. It was an unusually cold evening, so the fire was lit and it warmed up the whole house. I was about to say I was going to bed when a loud siren started wailing.
"Quick! Get into the shelter!" yelled Thomas. "I'll get the dogs!"
We all rushed outside and got into the shelter. As we sat in the cramped room, we could feel the ground rumbling from the bombs, and people screaming. Thomas came in with 3 trembling dogs, and they all pulled him inside. He slammed the door shut, and locked it and we all sat there, waiting for the planes to pass. Then I fainted.
It was a long night, and when I woke up the next morning, it all seemed like a dream. I had somehow got into my bed in Sammy's room. I sat up, suddenly realizing where I was. I looked around, and Sammy was nowhere to be seen. I got up and went downstairs. Everyone was outside. It was Michael's leaving day. He was all dressed up like a professional soldier. Catherine was crying her eyes out, and Thomas congratulated him. We all waved goodbye as he walked down the driveway. When he was out of view, we entered the house, and it was quiet, apart from Catherine's sobs. It seemed awkward. No one knew what to say, when to say it, and how to say it. It was luck when we went to school, because we didn't have to face the silence.