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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & General Editor
Volume 7, Number 3, September 2013

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Steve Andrews
Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, USA


London 1942

They'd come in, him in his uniform, and sit in that booth in the corner. The order would always be the same: two teas, sugar, no lemon. He'd laugh and joke, and sometimes she'd cry, as they'd sit in the dim light and sip until it was time for us to close. Then, as a special nightcap, they'd order a third tea. Just one. Before either of them drank, he'd take the wooden napkin ring, put it on her finger and, holding hands, they'd share that last cup. She'd cherish the ring as he paid the check and before she stood up, she'd slip it from her finger and put it back in its place.

They went on like that for weeks until last night when she came in alone. When I went to take her order, she sat staring straight ahead, her hand clutching a folded copy of the London Times. The headline told of another crippled bomber that had tried to make it back over the channel. Plane lost. Crew feared dead.

She broke from her daze and looked up: one tea, sugar, no lemon. Finishing the first cup as she had every night before, she ordered a second: half full, no more. Looking down at the ring with tears in her eyes, she slowly emptied the half cup. And then, the clock chiming our closing hour, she touched the ring as though to say farewell, rose from her seat and quickly walked out the door.

five year-old bride
her mother's high heels
a dandelion bouquet

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