They met in a cafe on their respective days off mere weeks before Sally shipped out. It had been a chance meeting, but it seemed to Anthea to be the sort of chance meeting that the songs sing about but that no one ever has.
Desperate to know each other better, they spent every one of their limited free moments together those few short weeks. Then, just as Anthea was realized just how much she cared about the other woman, Sally was on a boat to France with the first nursing corps to leave and Anthea’s job as a secretary didn’t seem to fill nearly as many hours as it had before.
To her surprise, a letter arrived in the mail barely weeks after their separation. It was short, and there were absolutely no details, but Sally had been safe enough and well enough to write, and Anthea’s hope was restored.
Over the next four years, the two women would write hundreds of letters to each other, falling irrevocably in love and continually reassuring each other that they were still safe.
Sometimes letters were lost though, and in those times Anthea was over come with worry. When more time than usual passed without a message from the nurse her head was filled with images of artillery raining down, exploding a medical tent and Sally with it. When it rained, Anthea saw Sally soaking wet and covered in blood, working on despite the cold, starting to cough and dismissing it, until finally all Anthea could see when she closed her eyes was Sally’s face pale as she coughed herself to death somewhere in France.
Another letter would come eventually, and Anthea would sleep calmly for a night or two, but then the quiet patter of rain on her rooftop would return, and the images would continue to burn into her eyelids.