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Written by candle-light

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I suppose one advantage of a castle like ours is that it was already uncomfortable before the war and we got used to it then. I write this sitting in the old four-poster bed with my Navy greatcoat wrapped round my shoulders like a comforter with my scarf wrapped round my head to keep my ears warm. It's still cold, but the only part of me that feels it is my face and my fingers. Jody is curled up in the bed beside me: I can just see her hair in the light from the candle, but the rest of her is completely buried by the blankets.

It feels odd to be here with someone who isn't Rose.

Really, the light from the candle is awful: I don't know what my outlines will look like tomorrow morning. And I am out of practice. But I wanted to write this, now. I found this old notebook - one the Vicar gave me, before I left home. I didn't take it with me because I thought I had given up on being a writer. It has thick blue lines on good pre-war paper, and my old fountain pen writes as well as ever.

Father writes all the time. Well, not all the time, but he is pretty constant about it, even with all the interruptions. He's in the Home Guard, and he doesn't seem to mind doing that. I don't quite know what they do out here. Watch for people who don't keep a proper blackout, I suppose, and practice air raid drills. Miss Marcy calls them our last line of defence. Topaz told me in a letter she wrote while we were still in Plymouth that he'd been invited to write for the BBC. He'd said no, which doesn't surprise me, but reading between the lines I think Topaz was disappointed.

Of course it would have meant working in London. It's worse than Liverpool, so everyone says. We haven't had a really bad raid since January.

That was when Jody and I

I'll finish that sentence later.

We went to a cinema that evening. I wanted to go because Stephen would be in it. It wasn't the first time I've seen Stephen in a cinema, but it is still strange. Jody wanted to go because I was going. The other Wrens wanted to go to another flick that was on earlier, not to get caught if there was a raid. I wouldn't have wanted anyone else to go with me: seeing Stephen like that is always so strange.

I want to write this here and now because no one but me is ever going to read it.

I remember the first two or three times a man kissed me and I thought I was in love. I was watching Stephen in the cinema and before I got caught up in the story, I was remembering that I was the first girl he'd ever kissed. (I think. He never did say if he'd kissed Ivy.) Goodness, it is strange seeing someone you know in a cinema. I got quite excited while I was watching - it was a story about people escaping from France when the Germans invaded, a silly story but I got quite caught up in it while we were watching and forgot it was Stephen playing a part. I think he must be good.

The film wasn't quite over when the air raid siren went. We had to go down to one of the public shelters. They are awfully stuffy and not much safer than an ordinary house, everyone says - nearly 200 people were killed in a shelter in December last year. Jody and I found ourselves a corner where the floor was still quite dry, and we sat down next to each other. That raid went on for hours. There was one street that was completely destroyed: we heard the noise. It wasn't very far away.

We were sitting very close together. Jody felt very thin and small against me. It's odd because she isn't really so much smaller than me. But she is very thin - she says she didn't get enough to eat when she was a child, and she's never been able to get any fatter. When we went down into the shelter I was thinking about Stephen, and about what I felt when he kissed me that evening. I mention this quite truthfully because of how I felt later.

We could just hear each other speak if we leaned our heads together so that our mouths were close to each other's ears. It is an odd thing about being very afraid, it's like being very miserable: at first it's all you can think of, but then as time goes on you can't help thinking about other things.

Jody came over from Canada just over a year ago. I remember her when we were all in Plymouth, though she wasn't on my watch then and I didn't have much to do with her. When I told her in the shelter that night that I'd noticed her from the beginning she said it was because of her accent, but she sounded pleased.

She wanted to join the Wrens, and they didn't have Wrens in Canada then, though it might happen next year, especially now America is in the war. (Neil isn't going to join up, Rose writes: he runs a beef ranch, and he's been told that's he's to keep doing that. Simon is in the same position - the home farm at Scoatney now employs six Land Girls. From Rose's letters, Neil isn't very happy about this, and I know Simon is livid.)

Jody was just 19 when she arrived - we worked out that she's four and a half years younger than I am, almost exactly. I thought she was younger: of course people say I look younger than I am, too.

Her life is like a romantic story: her parents died when she was a baby: she grew up in a boarding house where her cousin worked, who looked after her, and then her cousin died when she was eight. When she was twelve, she was adopted by two women who live on Prince Edward Island. They seem to have been very kind to her, and the way she describes Prince Edward Island it sounds almost too beautiful to be true. (The boarding house was in Toronto, which has a more romantic name but sounds exactly like what I hate most about London: I mean London before the war, not now.)

I'm used to people thinking I had a peculiar childhood, living in a castle with almost no money until I was eighteen and Rose got married and Father started writing again and everything changed. I decided when I joined the Wrens that I wasn't going to talk about it. I was tired of talking about it, and having people exclaim and ask questions. Mortmain is an unusual name, but I didn't think anyone outside literary circles would really think to connect James Mortmain the famous writer with a very junior Wren, and I was right: no one ever has, not since I stopped trying to be a writer myself.

(I sometimes still think I would like to be a writer. Writing is easy. But being an author is complicated when your father is the author of Jacob Wrestling and Enigmatism. I must talk to the Vicar about this while I'm here: and I want him to meet Jody.)

But I had to explain to Jody why I was still thinking about the cinema. Somehow I didn't want her to think it was because I think Stephen is attractive. He is very handsome, of course. He always was. But I never have been attracted, not even when he kissed me. And explaining about how I knew "Steven Elliot" (for some reason, when he got his first part, they didn't want him to be Stephen Colby: he was quite funny about that in the letter he wrote to Topaz, though a bit shy when he wrote to me) led into talking about how we used to live at Godsend Castle, Rose and I, and Stephen, and Thomas.

I stopped writing then for long enough to feel sleepy. It does hurt to cry when your face is very cold, but I don't really cry over Thomas any more. So much else happened since we heard. But Thomas is still very real to me whenever I come home to Godsend. Father and Topaz never talk about him: they have three evacuee boys sleeping in what used to be Thomas's room, and a girl who sleeps in what used to be Stephen's room. Now I think about it, Topaz began getting very involved in the extra classes at the village school with Miss Marcy from right after Thomas joined up. He was so very rational about it in the one letter I had from him after the war started - Oxford would let him delay his entrance till after the war, and his flying instructor at the airfield where he did flying lessons had already spoken to him about how the RAF needed pilots.

I had to stop there for a few minutes. The candle flame turns into a golden glow when you look at it with your eyes full of tears. The candle is burned down to a stub, and I promised myself I would finish this before it burned out. Or at least stop.

We were in that shelter for hours. We talked for hours. I rested my face against her hair - Jody has lovely hair - and kept talking: I could feel her face against the side of my face, her lips almost touching my ear. We didn't kiss. I mention that because always before when I thought I was in love with someone it was after he had kissed me, because he had kissed me.

That was when I fell in love with Jody. With her voice in my ear, and her shoulder against mine. And so here we are. The candle's wick is trembling in a pool of wax.

I asked her to come home with me, the next time we had leave, because I knew she would love it here, and because telling anyone any thing in a Wren dormitory is hopeless. We've been together so much of the time since January, but we haven't talked. We haven't kissed. I don't know how she'll feel about me when I tell her. I know she likes me. I don't know if she'll want to kiss me. We are in the same bed, but both with so many clothes on we might as well be in different beds. I do want to hold her. I do want to kiss her. I didn't know I could feel this way about anyone. I never felt like this about anyone.

I can barely see the paper now. Topaz threw out the old dressmaker's dummy years ago, but I can hear Miss Blossom, just as I used to, inside my mind. I won't write down what she's saying.

Tomorrow I will tell Jody I love her. Goodnight.