Yellow Beach

George took another sip and as he put down the cup his expression became pained.

“I’ve never told this to anyone, not even my wife,” he said. “When I made it to the beachhead my sergeant started hollering, saying I’d gotten one of the men killed. He said I’d frozen at the water’s edge and the guy who’d stopped to pull me forward was hit. I said I hadn’t frozen and no one pulled me forward. But the sergeant insisted he’d seen it happen. He said I should have the same name as the beach. He said I should be called ‘yellow’ for getting a man killed.”

Celia saw tears in George’s eyes. She squeezed his hand.

“I swear to God,” George said. “I didn’t remember anything the sergeant said had happened. But maybe I blotted it out. Maybe I had frozen and the guy was killed. If I got him killed I have to say sorry. If I don’t do that, I can’t face the men we lost. And I can’t face my wife. All these years I wanted to tell her what the sergeant said, but I was afraid to.”

George shook his head again and was quiet.

A commotion at the far end of the café broke the silence between George and Celia. George turned and saw a tall young man gripping the waiter by the throat. Then George recognised the expensive haircut, and saw the greasy youths and pretty girls laughing. Everyone else in the café seemed frozen. George stood and walked over.

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