s Jane's father in Heaven, like Jesus?"
"Yes. Be quiet."
"Was Jesus a hero, too?"
"Please be quiet!"
Elizabeth stared at the figure of Christ hanging over the altar and wondered if Jane's father would visit Jesus' house for tea in Heaven. She wondered if her father and Jane's father would smoke cigars with Jesus, the way they used to at Jane's house. She began to grow afraid. What if her father had become a hero? If it was good to be a hero why did everyone get so upset when Jane's father became one? Why wasn't Grandfather a hero? He was dead.
She missed her father terribly all of a sudden. It had been so long since she had seen him, she couldn't remember what he looked like. What did he look like? She didn't want to have to wait until Heaven to see him again.
The death of Jane's father had left the Porchester house reeling. Elizabeth was deeply confused and frightened. For her mother and Olivia the war had now finally come fully home. The other houses the message man had visited belonged to acquaintances, men they knew of, but didn't really know. Jane's father they not only knew, but knew well.
"Let us pray for the souls of those brave men lost in battle and for the bodies of those still fighting. We beseech you, Father, return them to us..." The priest was suddenly brought up short by a very peculiar sound. A sound which, despite its strangeness, was familiar to the congregation. It was a high pitched kind of buzzing or droning which seemed to be coming from a great distance away. It was the sound of dirigibles, bombing London.
"All right, everyone, you know what to do. Let's move quickly in to the basement," said Father Macrew from the pulpit. Elizabeth held her mother's hand as they headed for the stairs. Someone behind her muttered "bloody Huns" under their breath. Downstairs, they had already begun to sing "Hark, the Herald Angels Sing." They used to sing "Onward Christian Soldiers" to keep the morale up during the raids, but since Christmas was so close, someone had obviously decided that a few carols were in order.
As she and her mother descended the steps, Elizabeth could hear the booming of distant bombs.
©1995 Hyperbole Studios Inc.