Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Tornerai Part Three

In typical Blog fashion, the episodes for this gentle little story are in reverse order.  Here are the links for the previous pieces:

Nameless dance music wafted from the radio and Josie swayed slightly in time as the waitress took their orders.  Apart from the two of them, the restaurant was deserted.
“You certainly like your music.  Do you like dancing?” he asked.

“Love it.  Why do you ask?”

“Oh, no reason.”  He polished his knife on his napkin, clearly embarrassed.  “You move like a dancer, that’s all.”

“Do you think so?” She was pleased.  “I’ve actually won a couple of trophies.”

“I’m not surprised.  You must dance a lot then.”

“Not now.  My dance partner got called up.  It’s not the same, dancing with the other girls.”

“But you must get lots of invitations.”  He flushed again.

She looked at him for a moment.  “You’re not very good at this chat thing, are you?”

He returned to polishing his knife, his head down.  “I suppose not.  I’m really not trying to chat you, though.  I mean, someone like you wouldn’t…” He stammered to a halt.

“Wouldn’t what?  Look at someone like you?”  He looked up, surprised by her frankness.  

She smiled, softening her voice.  “If I go to a dance on my own I can guarantee I’ll get propositioned by some reserved-occupation lounge lizard with a sharp suit and bad breath.  Believe me, you’re a breath of fresh air.”

His flush deepened still further.  “Oh!  Well, thank you!  In that case, I wondered…”

He was interrupted by the arrival of the soup.  As the waitress placed the bowls in front of them, the music changed again.  The slow opening tones resolved into the voice from the Milk Bar singing “J’Attendrai”.

“It’s that song again.  What was it you called it?” she asked.

“Oh, ‘Tornerai’.  It’s Italian for ‘You Will Return’”

“Sing the Italian words for me.”

“No, I can’t.”

“I thought you said you’d learned them.”

“I have.  I meant I can’t sing.”

“You did in the Milk Bar.”  She grinned over her soup spoon, teasing him.

“Oh, well, not really.  I, er…” His colour was deepening again.

“You know, I’ve never seen anyone blush as easy as you do,” she laughed.  “OK, tell me what you wondered, then.”

“What I wondered?”

“Just before the soup arrived.  You said, ‘I wonder…’”

“Oh, that.” He was quiet for several seconds.  “It’s just that… well, I know we said just lunch, but…”

“But…?” she prompted.

“But there’s a farewell tea dance at the Training School.  Would you like to come?”

“We did say just lunch, didn’t we?”

He sagged.  “Yes, we did.”

“But you hadn’t mentioned a tea dance then.  Eat up, I want to go dancing in my new frock.”

The severe formality of the Castle Bromwich Training School was softened by tri-coloured bunting and a banner wishing Good Luck to 44 Squadron.  A six-piece band played subdued dance standards from a small stage.  Josie slipped into the Ladies as they arrived, emerging triumphantly in the new dress, her hair combed and shining coppery in the harsh lights. 

Tony met her at the door.  “Wow! You look, um… nice.”  He held out a glass of pinkish liquid.  “It’s only fruit cup, I’m afraid.”

“You’re such a silver-tongued flatterer,” she laughed, taking the glass and sipping.  “Flipping heck!  Fruit cup? Are you sure?”

He tested his own drink.  “Ah.  I think someone’s accidentally spilt gin into the bowl.”

“I think everyone in the room has.”  She drank experimentally, trying not to grimace at the unaccustomed bitterness.

The conclusion will be up in a few days' time

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