Young Adult Historical


July 1940

My toast slides from numb fingers as our housekeeper, Anna, holds out a telegram. Stress vibrates in the tendrils curled against her forehead. Moisture shimmers in her eyes, and the bottom drops from my stomach.

For a moment, I’m not sure Mother understands. Then her serene façade cracks and she makes a small sound. She pinches the paper from our housekeeper’s hand as if it will strike her.

Mother slides a finger under the seal, flips it open. She reads it, sips her tea, no emotion touching her face. When she sets her teacup down, the china clatters, the nose like gunshot in the silence. She places the paper on the table, precisely an inch from the edge, smoothes it with one hand, and stands.

“Excuse me.” She dabs her mouth with a pristine white napkin and leaves.

I don’t know whether to follow or grab for the letter, to read for myself the news I know will be there. The smudged imprint of scarlet lipstick stains her napkin.

As I force myself to move, to reach for the words I know will hurt, a keening wail echoes through the house.

The war has touched Kellerton Manor.