Bayeux, France 1948
Her long sigh fogged the cold window of the apartment. Rain fell lazily on the quiet cobblestone street below. She only hoped the train wasn’t postponed.
Colette peeled her eyes away from the wet street to the desk dimly lit with her small lamp. The latest postcard lay in the center with her pen nuzzled beside it, inviting her to begin.
She crossed the room, the thin wood floor whining underneath her. Sitting in the hard chair, a girlish smile tugged at her mouth. She was happy with this one. The quaintness of Monaco echoed from the small card.
Colette had loved it there, though she only ventured out one day, since her work kept her indoors with the royal officials. Translating for hours took its toll on her mind. Now back at home in Bayeux, her mind could rest and think about what she loved most.
William. He would love this one.
She picked up the pen and wrote gracefully…
Mon Chéri William,
No, English. William would prefer English…
My Beloved William,
Monaco is brilliant, isn’t it? Remember we said we would settle in a place like this? If only it wasn’t so expensive…
The rain falling outside right now matches the gloom in my heart because you are so far away. But I know that soon we will be with each other, right, my love?
I still have the seashell necklace you gave me. I wear it daily…
Colette touched the smooth shells around her slender neck remembering when William clasped it gently around her. His approving smile filled her vision and his deep voice echoed in her ears,
“Beautiful. Colette, I love you.”
…I wear it daily. I’m also reading the Book you gave me, everyday, like you said. It is bringing me peace. How did you know?
I miss you. All my love, your loving,
William Jones, addressed to his home in Virginia, USA. Colette kissed the card and slipped it into her purse, clicking off the lamp and leaving the cold room. She descended hallow wood stairs to the wet street below. The train station was only two blocks away, and thankfully the rain had let up a few minutes ago.
The street was mostly quiet, except for Leon sweeping the entry to his general store. She waved to him then quickened her pace as the screeching brakes of the train bounced through the square. The wet air curled her dark hair and she could feel her stockings dampening with every step.
The station stirred with the few new arrivals but no one was standing in line for a departure ticket. Colette stepped up to the counter.
“Un billet rond de voyage à Colleville Sur-Mer.”
One round-trip ticket to Colleville Sur-Mer, a trip she’d taken many times before with a letter or the latest postcard safely tucked into her purse.
Colette sat next to the window in the train, the quaint station below and her face reflecting in the glass. Her heart jumped at the shrill whistle of the train and the engine jerked the cars forward. Soon her damp town was out of sight, and grassy hills speckled with tiny houses rose and fell as the train passed quickly by.
The sun peeked through the clouds kissing the land below and Colette’s mind wandered to the last kiss William placed on her cheek when he left.
“Colette, you know I have to go. I’ll come back for you.” His voice echoed in her mind as the train came to a slow halt.
She shuffled off with the few other passengers and walked two blocks, the warm sun a welcome feeling on her cheeks.
The post office loomed ahead but she turned, her heart hammering as she approached.
Colette walked through the gate and along the gravelly path. She felt the difference as she stepped onto the soft grass. The wind tousled her hair as she neared, and then stopped.
The white cross was a familiar sight, the name even more familiar.
William J. Jones
Her eyes passed over the flowers she had left a week ago, and the many postcards she’d written to him throughout the years.
Thousands of white crosses, like William’s, lined the green grass. Colette knelt down as the Omaha beach crashed below the clearing of the Normandy Memorial.
She slowly pulled the postcard out of her purse and began in a soft voice.
“My Beloved William.”
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