A/N We were reading this book again in English, and it just reminded me of how much I loved this book the first time round. Oh, and I know Charlie would never have had a last phone call. This is just my imagination! ^^
Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters in this story, they all belong to the awesome Michael Morpurgo. ^^
I took a deep breath, closing my eyes. I will not cry, I promise. I'm Charlie Peaceful, not some spineless sponge. I will not cry. I won't. I haven't cried for years; this is no exception. I can get through this.
With a sudden surge of confidence, I took the old-fashioned phone from the cold, plastic table, and dialled my home number. The home I would never return to. My resolve began to evaporate as I heard the phone ring. They were very final, strong rings. Was that what the ending of my life would be like tomorrow?
"Peaceful family, Molly speaking."
I felt my heart begin to beat like a horse's hooves cantering down a concrete road: hard, fast and loud. Molly's sweet, gentle voice brought back so many loved memories. The first time she told me she loved me. When she said that one word when I proposed, the word that made my life until then worthwhile: yes. When she named our little son. When she sang. When I held her cradled within my arms, rejoicing in the wonderment that she was mine, mine alone.
"Hello?" She sounded ticked-off; I didn't blame her.
"Hey, Mol? It's me, Charlie." I forced my voice to sound as cheerful as it could get.
"Charlie!" Molly squealed loudly. I smiled broadly. "Why are you… what are you… I mean..."
"Molly…" I didn't want to tell her. Not yet. I wanted this last, precious conversation to be something that Molly would be able to look back on, and talk about with that tender note of love in her voice, not with regret at what she could've said, should've said. "Tell you what, I'll tell you later, alright? How's little Tommo doing?" My fine little son, named after my fine little brother.
"Oh! He's fine, aren't you Tommo?" She crooned, and I heard the little chap giggle contentedly in the background. She went on to tell me how she thought he'd be talking soon, how he was already crawling around and giving Mother all sorts of trouble, things I'd never witness.
"He's going to be a fine little fellow," I smiled as I spoke.
"He'll take after his father, in that case," I imagined how her mouth would be smiling, her eyes full of love, for me. "I miss you…" I will not cry.
"I miss you too, Mol." I didn't speak the words she wanted to her, the words everyone wanted to hear: 'I'll be home soon,' because, though it broke my heart, I wouldn't. "Tommo'll be back soon."
"Is he okay?" I heard concern in her voice, her motherly instincts surfacing.
"He's fine," I laughed. Or tried to, at least. "Took a shine to a waitress back in Pop." I had the pleasure of hearing her laugh freely.
"Dear old Tommo," Her voice was loving, laced with good-natured humour. "It isn't the same without you two around here." I sighed.
"I hope you're not moping around, Mol," She had a life outside of me. "It doesn't suit you, Mother says." She laughed again; her laugh reminded me of lazy Summer days, spent out at the lake.
"Don't you worry," I could hear something behind her cheeriness, though. "I'm doing just fine. What about you?" This couldn't go on forever. I had to tell her. She had to know the truth.
"Mol, the thing is…" I trailed off, trying to find the perfect words. "That bastard, Sergeant Hanley…"
"Yes?" She sounded worried.
"He… Well, Tommo hurt himself bad in No-Man's land, and the blighter tried to get me to leave him…"
"And I wouldn't. It was a death order, Mol. All the other beggars died as soon as they poked their heads out. I couldn't leave Tommo anyway. You know that."
"Charlie… that means…"
I took a deep breath. I will not cry.
"It means I've been sentenced to death. Cowardice in the face of the enemy, load of codswallop." There was a deadly silence on the other side of the phone. "Mol…" Then, I heard exactly what I didn't want to. A single sob pierced through the quiet. I waited.
"Why…?" Her voice was quiet, tear-choked. "Why you, Charlie? Why?"
I longed to hold her in my arms, hold her close, shield her from what was hurting her so deeply.
"I don't know, Mol." I spoke gently. "But I'm no coward. Do you believe me?" She didn't hesitate.
"I always have." I will not cry.
"Mol, you know I'll always love you," I will not cry. "But I don't want you all hung up on me, I want you to live, you hear me? Watch out for both Tommo's, alright?"
"Of course," She spoke between sobs. "Anything for you. You know that."
"Just don't forget me," I will not cry. "That's all I ask."
"Never," She voiced. "My love is eternal, you should know that!" She ,laughed very lightly, then broke off in a sob. I will not cry.
"As is mine," The guard signalled to me to cut it off, "Take care of yourself, alright? And, God help the poor blighters dying out here. Remember them too, alright? I'm sorry, Mol, the bastard guard's telling me I have to go." The guard sent me an affronted look.
"No…" Molly's sobs grew louder, and each one broke my heart.
"I love you," I will not cry, "Remember me, alright? I love you more than my own life, Mol." I refused to say goodbye. Those two words just made it too final, too real.
"I can't forget you, you are my life," I will not cry. "I always have, and always will love you."
Putting that phone down was the single hardest thing I'd ever done in my life. Defying Hanley? That was just common sense. Stealing Bertha? That was for her life. She didn't deserve to die, not then, and certainly not by the Colonel's hand. Marrying Mol? That was for love.
But now everything was gone. Every accomplishment, it had all been for nothing. And for what? Loyalty to my brother, my best friend. One stupid order. And now, I had to leave everything I loved behind. I was forced to abandon my family, my wife. I would never see my son grow up: he would live with shame of being the son of a coward. No man deserved to die like this, like they're worth nothing. I didn't want to go. I didn't want leave Molly, Tommo, Mother or Big Joe. Me and Tommo had been inseparable all out lives. What would my death do to him? I was hard to believe that this was the end. The full stop at the end of my life.
I will not cry. Sod it, I thought as a tear rolled down my cheek.
A/N: Yes, it's soppy, and sentimental, but to be honest, I don't care. I think it's horrible that soldiers' sentenced to death still haven't been pardoned. This book made me sob my little heart out. Which is why I wrote that. Hope you liked it! Oh, and R&R! Molly.