The Girls in Navy Blue by Alix Rickloff

The Girls in Navy Blue by Alix Rickloff

Author:Alix Rickloff
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: HarperCollins
Published: 2022-08-17T00:00:00+00:00

Chapter 19


Blanche was reading a letter at the kitchen table when I returned home the next morning. She tucked it back into its envelope to eye me with a cool appraisal that left me squirming. The early edition of the paper was folded so the front page was hidden by a mug of tea, the paper soggy where the milk had spilled. It didn’t matter. I’d seen the headlines hawked on the street corners, rustling in the grip of passengers on the streetcar, and whispered over by weekenders, carpetbags filled with beach attire. 800,000 American Troops Now in France. The German Drive Against Paris Halted. American Airmen Attack Behind German Lines.

One could be forgiven for thinking the war was as good as won; that now that the Yanks had arrived, it was only a matter of time. That if we didn’t get into the fighting now, we’d miss our chance for glory.

Almost but not quite, you could overlook the smaller headlines below the fold describing American prisoners being paraded in Germany, U-boats sinking ships off our coast, and at the very bottom corner—hardly noticeable unless you were looking—the smallest headline of all noting the four hundred dead, wounded, and missing on the day’s casualty list.

I didn’t need a list to tell me there was plenty of war left to fight. Those laughing boys I met on the piers and along the boardwalk with their clean uniforms and eager faces had no idea what waited for them when they stepped onto those ships waiting in the harbor, steaming south past Cape Henry.

Not even Tom.

“We wondered what happened to you last night.” Blanche fiddled with the garish diamond newly encircling her ring finger. So far it had done the trick, and other than a few comments of congratulation and surprise, her hasty marriage had been accepted.

Embarrassment scalded my cheeks. “I should have sent word, but Tom—”

“I thought your long-lost airman might have something to do with your disappearance. I told Marjory as much. She went all starry-eyed and started yammering on about soul mates and true love. Is that why you did it? Because you love him? Because he said he loved you?”

“Yes. No. I don’t know.” Avoiding her gaze, I hung my jacket up on the hall tree by the door, removing my hat to smooth a hand through my hastily pinned hair. Tom had sneaked me out of the hotel before dawn this morning. He’d wanted to escort me home, but I’d refused to let him. Tom didn’t belong to my life here, and for reasons I couldn’t explain, I wanted to keep it that way.

“A baby won’t fit in that treasure box of yours, Viv.”

My hand unconsciously moved to my stomach, flat as a drum—for now.

“If you’re going to play with fire, you need to read this.” She pulled a slender pamphlet from under her newspaper and pushed it across to me. “I told you there were ways. Margaret Sanger is a pioneer in family planning. She went to jail for giving women the tools to understand and control their own bodies and thus their lives.


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