April Violets- David Bowmore

Bio: David Bowmore lives in Yorkshire, England. He has worn many hats in his time: chef, teacher and landscape gardener. His collection of connected short stories ‘The Magic of Deben Market” published by Clarendon House is available now through Amazon and Lulu.com.

             It would be the last time he would ever see her.

The first time he’d set eyes on her, he had been on his way back to his garrison. She was getting off the bus as he was about to get on. She didn't notice one speck of him. He saw every detail of her. From the two-inch heel to the hat pinned with a pheasant feather, and her freshly curled hair. A pencil line drawn up the back of each leg, disappearing up a skirt cut just below the knee. Her snakeskin handbag crooked over the left arm.

He caught the sweet scent of April Violets as she brushed past. Her dark eyes set to a distance far away. Not the roar of a red London bus or the choking of diesel fumes, nor the hustle and bustle of street life in a country at war got in the way of April Violets.

Time stopped. He stopped. She continued on her way, and so did the bus.

He was transfixed as she melted around the corner. He couldn't help but follow. With determination and an air of authority she entered a pub, but time was pressing, and he had to be back on base.
He turned around, waited for the next double decker and dreamed of seeing her, meeting her, talking to her, and knowing her.

She was so very beautiful...

He often wondered what might have happened. How things would have turned out if he had followed her inside the pub instead of letting her go.

However, a corporal and a sergeant of barbaric brutality, trained to dehumanise were waiting for him. No one wanted their fury and hell to come down upon them. Not even the busty elegant goddess that glided past him would detain him any longer than was necessary.

A week later, he saw April Violets for the last time. He ventured into the dark recesses of The Lamb and Staff. She was serving drinks, and with skilful agility darted past the grubby reaches of the clientele.

Her lips were a full pout of red, her golden hair bounced about her shoulders. She showed enough cleavage to intrigue. He heard the banter, the laughs and the refusals. She was in every word and action, a bar-room vision to be seen and admired from afar. Talk — yes. Touch — no, or receive a slap.

He finished his pale ale and then went away to war.

Now, four years later he takes the dog around the corner or perhaps the dog takes him. He's been a London lad all his life and knows this particular corner from his toddler days.

Then that scent again, April Violets.

In his own darkest hours on the front line, or later in hospital, it was her face that floated before him. She was the one he was protecting from the Krauts, because he loved her. He'd only spoken to her once to order a drink. He didn't even know her name. She was and always would be April Violets.

“Excuse me, are you wearing April Violets?”

“Who wants to know?” she says with a hard, sharp edge to her voice.

“Oh, no one, miss. I’m sorry.” He begins to turn away, embarrassment and shame taking their usual places front and forward of every other emotion.

“I remember you,” she says more softly, “Pale ale weren't it?”

And then as if only noticing for the first time, “What happened to your eyes?”

“An explosion. My seeing days are over.”

“Oh my poor boy. Come home and meet me mum,” she said, taking him gently by the arm.

That was when he truly saw her for the first time.

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