Wedding Photograph

It was terrible at the end. His face half gone. His stomach a mess of shrapnel. Ten years of constant pain. Ten years of stinking bandages. And for ten years they’d pretended that they were glad he was alive.

He didn’t want them to go to Hawes he suddenly realised.

What would he do on Friday nights if he wasn’t sitting with Harry? Who would he talk to about his week at the Rail Yard?

He’d become part of the routine at Harry’s house too. After a while he was letting himself in and making a pot of tea to take upstairs. Glad and Harry’s mum would rush past him, the briefest of hellos before their night out at the Rose and Crown.

“Lovely piano at the Rose”, Harry’s mum would say. Joe knew she wouldn’t admit that they did a nice Milk Stout as well.

The Friday night pattern continued over the years. In time, Harry knew everything about the Rail Yard. He loved talking about Joe’s workmates. “’E’s allus slackin’ that ‘un,” he’d say nodding. For a moment he was back in a man’s world of hard work and long hours.





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