On Swansea beach it’s impossible to tell where sky and water meet. Hadyn stares into the distance and sees no edge to the world. He leans on the handle of a large battered Silver Cross pram.
Although a conscientious objector, he feels guilty about not being ‘over there’ even though he’s had his own war. He vividly recalls the sounds of the Blitz: of Luftwaffe bombers droning, of ack ack fire, the whining of the approaching bombs and then finally, his bomb and after that, nothing, no memory whatsoever of the bomb that threw him two hundred yards and almost took his life.
The far off sea is silent. The gulls are quiet; there’s no wind on which to cruise, but instead they putter about on the sand looking for food – too bored to laugh. Curlews’ haunting calls fill the air while shells crunch beneath Hadyn’s feet as he sets off on his daily search.
He pauses to collect a driftwood plank. He lays it on the pram, moves on and collects another. The dresser he will make from this wreckage will be his wedding present to Alice, his nurse, with whom he fell in love. He was so near death, so broken, that without Alice he knows he would not have made it this far. The irony of him, a wreck, making a dresser out of discarded wood or wood from wrecks makes him smile. But needs must; he has little money, certainly not enough to buy something as grand as a hand-made Welsh Dresser. The pram is fully laden. He’s tired and rests.
Hadyn is in a large disused garage where he’s built the Welsh Dresser and he is studying his craftsmanship. The dresser gleams jet-black, six foot six inches high and four feet wide. There is not a nail or a screw in it; every piece skilfully joined by a master-craftsman. He’s pleased; it is a thing of beauty – its imperfections make it unique and perfect.
The wooden garage doors are kicked open and three men in their fifties, burst in.
Here he fuckin’ is – our local fuckin’ coward.
Pissin’ about makin’ bleeding furniture while our lads are dying fightin’ bleedin’ Hitler.
Get that hammer, Harry, one of the men says.
Stop, Hadyn objects, I have the right not to fight; I’m a Quaker and a Special Constable instead.
Let’s see how special he feels, shall we lads?
A fuckin’ Quaker! Yeah, quakin’ in his fuckin’ boots.
Hadyn watches as they smash the dresser to smithereens.
What you goin’ to do now then? one of the men asks.
Alice and Hadyn push the pram across the beach collecting driftwood; she has insisted on helping him after discovering what happened. After the attack she had asked the same question as the man. Hadyn replied, Make it again. I’m sorry it won’t be a surprise.
As she loads wood onto the pram she thinks, No, my love, you’re my surprise, and what a wonder you are.
I hope you enjoyed this story. Remember, I publish a new story every Sunday.
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© Phil Cosker 2020
Phil Cosker has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs & Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work. All rights reserved; no part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted by any mean, electronic, mechanical, photocopying or otherwise without the prior permission of the author.