Up to this point: Rosamund, Elinor’s mother, was injured in an air raid and while she is going to be ok, she has several broken bones that have immobilized her for at least a month. This means that a bigger portion of the household duties fall on Elinor in addition to her teaching. This evening Derek was reading the paper and told Elinor of the possibility of his being called up in light of Pearl Harbor. The last chapter ended with their dialogue about Pearl Harbor and Derek’s possible draft.
Sooo…I was talking about my what-do-I-write problem with my younger sister and she came up with what I must say is the most ingenious idea in the world, and I wish that I could say that I had come up with it but I didn’t, so credit goes to Blair (who is, by the way, looking forward to taking this class in a couple of years)! Are you ready? You’re not going to believe this.
She said: “When was Winnie-the-Pooh written?” 1928, turns out. I realize that quoting another book will affect copyright issues if ever I tried to publish this, but realistically I don’t think that will ever happen and even if it did…Blair, you are a genius! I love you! I mean, I’ve been quoting Winnie-ther-Pooh all year long, I practically had to include him in my novel. So here he is. =D
A Wing and a Prayer, Chapter Seven
Staring up at the shadowed ceiling that night, Elinor was dry-eyed and wide awake with a thousand thoughts spinning in worn circles in her head. But when she tried to open them she found nothing inside. They were all alike. Just empty questions with no beginnings and no ends—and no answers.
And somehow it didn’t seem to matter.
After the news of Pearl Harbor it was as if all the emotion she struggled against was finally exhausted and it gave up trying. It seemed wrong to feel so incredibly, unreasonably peaceful just now, but then again…it was so freeing. The war and all of its twisted trappings had just wrapped itself tighter around her and for some indefinable reason, it was easier that way. Elinor relaxed and rolled over, matching her breathing with Polly’s soft snores until the rain sang her to sleep.
“Isn’t the ocean beautiful, Ethan?”
“After it storms the water looks so…deep. And calm. Like it’s saying that nothing can ever really touch it, even when the wind blows hardest.”
He didn’t answer for a long time and she began to wonder if he heard her. But then he turned around and she knew.
There was no need for him to say anything else.
It had seemed too small and too big, somehow, that one word that would bind them together for a lifetime. Too simple to say what she felt; too coarse for the precious moment. But she said it anyway, and the word became beautiful.
Then he had slipped the ring onto her finger and kissed it.
“You are mine, now, Elinor. Nothing can ever really touch us now.” His next words were so low that she barely caught them above the spray of the surf and the cry of the gulls. “Even when the wind blows hardest.”
When the others caught up to them on the cliff, Rosamund had tears in her eyes and Derek laughed and Jack and Polly danced around in delight.
A thousand years of time whispered around them. And not a single moment passed by.
Wintry light streamed through the window and lay in soft gray heaps on the bed. The rain had continued sporadically through the night. Polly still slept, one chubby hand curled tightly around her bunny and the other pillowed on her dark golden hair.
Elinor slipped out from the covers. The last threads of her dream dissolved as her bare toes met the bare floor. It was so warm beneath the quilts…but breakfast needed making, twenty-three children needed teaching, and she needed to get up. As she reached for her dress, a tiny shaft of light glittered on her left hand like a tear. Elinor pulled the plain silver ring off of her finger and stood shivering in the middle of the floor, looking from the ring to the black and white photo on the desk until Polly opened her eyes sleepily.
“What are you doing, Elinor?”
“Oh…nothing, lovey.” She slipped the ring back onto her hand and began to dress.
Looking at the clock for the seventeenth time that afternoon, Elinor finally found what she was looking for. One-thirty. Only half an hour until she could race herself home in the rain and then have time for cup of hot tea and a chat with Mum before starting supper.
“You may put away your books, class,” she said, reaching under her seat for her favorite little volume of pen-and-ink illustrated stories. “I think we just have time for a story before the bell rings. Does that sound like fun?”
Amid the choral “yes” that followed, Elinor turned the pages tenderly to the place where they had left off yesterday. The leaves fell open to this last, best-loved story, little grubby marks testifying to its popularity with the boys and girls.
“Christopher Robin was going away,” she began in her very best story-telling voice. “Nobody knew why he was going…”
When the bell rang thirty minutes later in the middle of the story, the children begged her to go on. There were only two pages left and she was enjoying the quaint tale quite as much as they did. “All right, then. Get your mackintoshes on, and then come back here and sit quietly while I finish.” There was a mad scramble for coats and hats and overshoes, but in a few moments the children had sorted themselves into their seats again.
“…and every now and then,” she went on, “he shook his head, and said to himself, ‘I’m not getting it right.’ Then he began to think of all the things Christopher Robin would want to tell him when he came back from wherever he was going to, and how muddling it would be for a Bear of Very Little Brain to try and get them right in his mind. ‘So, perhaps,’ he said sadly to himself, ‘Christopher Robin won’t tell me any more,’ and he wondered if being a Faithful Knight meant that you just went on being faithful without being told things…”
Elinor could hear her voice wandering on and on over the familiar words, but she lingered mentally over that little phrase. A hundred times she had read this story without ever noticing it. So childish. So poetic.
Just go on being faithful without being told things. Is it really as simple as that?
Tears sprung to her eyes, uninvited, unexpected and unexplained. Elinor closed the book softly and finished the last line of the story from memory. “…in that enchanted place on top of the Forest, a little boy and his Bear will always be playing.” She got up from the desk slowly. “The end. You are dismissed.”
Elinor watched the children bounce out of the little room in joyous clusters, small mackintoshes and hats and boots making a bright yellow puddle in the mudroom, voices youthfully high and sweet. Then she slipped the book into the pocket of her overcoat and ran out through the rain.