Disclaimers: All rights to owners. I gain nothing but my own amusement. If you sue me you will end up with dust bunnies and cracker crumbs.
Apologies to Ian McEwan, who wrote a wonderful book, to Christopher Hampton, who wrote the script. Thank you to Joe Wright for his vision,, and to Keira Knightley, James McAvoy and the rest of the cast for bringing Joe's vision to life.
Notes: Some images and references are taken from the novel, others from the movie. Some are taken from unused scenes in the script.
Ghost Part 1
June, 1940 Dunkirk Bray Dunes
Private Robbie Turner opened his eyes and gave his sore aching body a good long stretch. It felt good. He felt good, the best he had in days... weeks, even months. He was going home. Cecilia. He could still hear her words clearly as the day she whispered them in his ear. "I love you. Come back. Come back to me." If he thought about it, he could feel the soft touch of her lips when they last kissed at the bus stop.
"I'm coming home, Cee." he replied. "I'm coming home!"
Something was wrong. It was quiet, almost too quiet. He looked around. Where was everybody. He called out to Mace and Nettle. Nobody stirred. He had instructed Nettle to wake him up early. Why had he been left behind? Then he saw it... him. A blanket cover the body. The hand that stuck out from under it looked as though it had been holding something. His letters. Every letter Cecilia and his mother had sent him, and the picture of the cottage Cecilia's friend said they could use when he was on leave. In that instant, everything became clear. He wasn't going home. He wasn't going to see Cecilia again. He would never hold her in his arms and kiss her again. He was dead.
'I'll wait for you. Come back to me,' he could hear her say every time he read her letters. She had signed every one she sent to him since he had joined the Army that way. The letters he hoped that Nettle had taken. He was the only one who would have thought them important. 'Your loving, Cee.'
He left himself to his eternal rest and headed up the stairs of the bunker. He felt so alone. He felt so empty. He had come so far only to fail. All his dreams of being with her were just a thing of the past now. All his suffering had come to an end. How long had it been? Did she know he was supposed to be on his way home? Did she know he was dead? How would she know how hard he tried to make it?
He sat down on an abandoned jeep. It was still too quiet. He missed the heavy footfalls of Mace and the constant chatter of Nettle. He looked out across the ocean. He hoped they made it out safe. He reached for his letters, forgetting that they weren't there. He sighed. He thought of Cecilia, beautiful Cecilia. She was so beautiful that summer day when she defiantly stripped down to her slip to retrieve the broken vase from the fountain. She was absolutely breath taking in the green dress she wore to dinner. She had been there everyday of his trial, sometimes being the only one sitting on his side. She loved him. Robbie Turner, the charlady's son. She supported him when everybody save his mother had turned on him. It broke his heart to hear her cry out when the verdict of 'guilty' was handed down. She whispered the words in his ear again. 'I love you. I'll wait for you. Come back to me.'
Prison. He was alone. 'Morbidly oversexed' they had labeled him. 'The subject may become dangerously inflamed should he see her.' The only visitor he was allowed was his mother. She could not visit as often as she or he wanted. It was awkward for her to ask the very people who had put him away for permission or time to visit him. He knew that. Just knowing that she loved him was enough. It was from her that he learned that Cecilia had left home, turning her back on her family. It was months before her letters began to arrive. They were so dry and emotionless. At first he didn't get it. She didn't write at first about his responses. When she wrote about finding a 'something green in her closet and going to the library to find a quiet corner to read' he got it. She had never gotten his first letters, nor had he received hers. That was why it had taken her so long to write. Their correspondence was being monitored. From that moment on, they wrote in 'code'. Sometimes it took him days to figure out what she was talking about. But he didn't mind reading her words over and over again. He was sure she likewise had the same problem with his letters and the same joy. When he was given the choice of staying in prison or joining the Army, he chose the Army... anything to get out of the rotten concrete cell he lived in. He could prove himself, he fancied. Perhaps gain respect, clear his name. One step closer to a live with his beloved Cee.
Looking around at his surroundings Robbie began to wonder. Was he alone? Had the others moved on? Surely he wasn't the only soldier who had died and was left behind. Where were they? Sliding off the hood of the jeep, Robbie wandered toward what was left of the town. He found the pub. He could hear singing and merriment coming from inside. What he saw saddened him a bit. There were soldiers inside drinking and carrying on without a care in the world. Some of them over their dead selves. He was not like them. He was moving on, they were doomed to haunt the shores of Dunkirk. It was not the place for him.
His place was with Cecilia. She was waiting for him. It wasn't how they hoped to meet again, but Robbie vowed that he would wait for her. He dreamed of being with her again. He dreamed of the day he returned to find her waiting for him, running into his arms, kissing him. He dreamed of getting down on one knee and asking her to marry him. But none of that mattered now. All those dreams had been shattered. He was dead. He never had the chance. Briony. He spit her name. What did she want? He hated her. His mother told him not to hate, but he was sure she hated her as much as he did. He hated them all. Every single member of the Tallis family save one, the middle child, Cecilia. She was the only one who stood by him along side his mother.
Suddenly, Robbie found himself at the natural pool at the far end of the Tallis grounds. He spit her name again. "I should have let you drown!", he screamed. "I should have let you drown!"
Robbie gagged. The stench of urine on cold concrete filled his nostrils. "NO!" he screamed. He was back in his prison cell. He closed his eyes tightly. Think of happier times he told himself. He focused his thoughts on the last time he saw Cecilia.
He found himself looking into the window of the Swallow Teahouse. He chuckled to himself. He could almost imagine Cecilia standing there in her nurse uniform looking at him, almost terrified. She was as terrified as he was. "I'm sorry I'm late," he lied. "I got lost." The truth was he kept backtracking, changing his mind to see her in his nervousness. Would she be there? Would he recognize her? Would she recognize him? He cursed himself now. Lost time. He entered the teahouse. The noise did not change. Life went on. He recalled the gentleness of her hand on his as he stirred his tea. He had pulled away. "Every day," she said. "I would have been there every day had I been allowed." Her eyes were as sad as his. Robbie recalled how firm yet loving her touch on his cheek was. "Robbie. Come back, come back to me" she repeated.
He decided he had enough of the noisy teahouse and retraced the route they walked to where she caught her bus, holding hands. He snickered wondering just how 'ghastly' her flat was as what her 'nosy landlady' was really like. There was always a bit of snobbery to Cecilia but he kind of liked that. She wasn't as bad as her family was however. He saw the No. 19 bus to Balham He ran after it and this time hopped on. He didn't know where he was going but at one point felt that it was time to get off.
Walking down the sidewalk he looked around at the people going on with their lives. They were completely unaware of the horrors that were taking place overseas. How could they? The new only reported the victories and never the casualties. They never reported the whole story. He noticed a soldier walking. He kept looking at a paper in his hand. He looked a bit lost. Robbie decided to follow him.
The soldier stopped in front of a building. Apartments. Robbie noticed the pigs in the front. There was a woman on the steps of one sweeping. The soldier addressed the woman.
"Tallis! Door!" the woman shrieked.
Robbie's heart, if it still beat, would have skipped a few beats. This was Cecilia's flat. This was where his beloved Cee lived. The door opened and there she was. He smiled. She was wearing a familiar blue robe. His robe. His mother must have given it to her. She had written about how she visited his mother. She was just as he remembered from the last time he saw her at the teahouse. Her expression saddened when she saw the soldier. He handed her a small package wrapped in brown paper and string then walked away. Robbie glared at him. So cold. But then Robbie felt a little sorry for him. He must have performed his duty too many times, and it would not be the last.
Nothing could have prepared Robbie for what happened next. A gut wretching scream pierced the silence of the summer afternoon followed by uncontrollable sobs. Robbie turned to face Cecilia, now seated on the steps in front of her door. She had opened the small package. It was his letters and the picture of her friend's cottage where they had hoped to spend time together. It broke his heart to see Cecilia crying. The last time he had seen her cry was that November day in court when he was sentenced but it was nothing like her sobs now.
He sat down next to her hoping he could be of some comfort as she looked through the bundle of letters she had written him.
"I kept them all, Cee. Every letter you wrote to me while I was in the Army." Robbie replied. "I kept them close to my heart."
Cecilia wiped the tears that continued down her cheeks as she looked at the picture of the cottage she had given to Robbie. How exited she had been at the prospect of going there with him.
"I'm sorry I didn't make it." Robbie responded. Wiping here tears. "I tried." He stood up. He could not bare to see her cry any longer. She held the bundle close to her heart. He cupped her face in his hand. "Cecilia, I love you. I'll wait for you. Look for me and you'll find me."
With that Robbie turned and disappeared as he walked down the street. He did not see Cecilia raise a hand to her cheek and look up to where he stood only moments before.
"Robbie, I love you."