On Penkivil Street
The Second World War stole his brothers, his mobility, and his pride. He assumed it had also taken away his prospects of being loved. But the quiet, dark-haired girl hiding in the kitchens at a Boxing Day dance proved him so very wrong.
Disclaimer: The author does not own any publicly recognisable entities herein. No copyright infringement is intended.
Bondi Beach bustles with life, the early-arriving summer weather drawing the crowds. The bright blue sky seems to stretch on forever and sunlight glitters on the ocean. Laughing parents chase castle-destroying children across the sand, groups of young men sit on their longboards beyond the breaking waves, and elderly couples walk hand-in-hand, enjoying the warm sunshine.
Edward Masen sits at the high tide mark on a faded blanket, one hand shielding his eyes against the glare, watching a beautiful girl with long, dark hair dancing over the waves. Knee deep in the whitewash, snatches of her laughter are whipped from her mouth by the onshore breeze and deposited in his lap. He gathers them up, filing them neatly in his mind, determined to hold onto each precious moment she gives him.
Beside him, a family of four are unpacking their baskets and bags, spreading out a picnic rug and raising an umbrella against the bright sunshine. A little girl with golden ringlets shovels sand into her pail while her younger brother brings a fistful of the stuff to his mouth.
"No, Alistair," his mother tells him, her voice firm. The little fellow wails and flaps his chubby arms as she shoves her finger into his mouth, removing a lump of wet sand from his pink tongue.
Further up the beach, a group of middle-aged women are talking to two constables, their fingers pointed in accusation towards the shoreline. Beyond them, a group of children are gathered around a bare-chested teenager wrestling with a kite. The diamond of white sailcloth, trailing a red ribbon, loops and dips against the sapphire sky, drawing "oohs" and "whoas" from the crowd.
A water-stained copy of The Sydney Morning Herald rustles beside Edward as he turns his attention back to the splashing and smiling brunette. The newspaper is a day old—dated November 28, 1949—and has been consulted only for the results of the Sheffield Shield match played this week between New South Wales and Queensland. Edward doesn't place much weight on being well-informed these days; he's lived too much history in the last few years to care deeply about its unfolding now.
However, and he suspects he's not alone, he does look forward to that second-to-last digit at the top of the page flipping from four to five, for the new decade to arrive. Logically, he knows there's only twenty-four hours between the end of 1949 and the start of 1950, but to him it feels monumental. A fresh start; a chance to put behind him a decade that's left its scars across the surface of the world, and all the souls that fill it.
Oh, the Forties had roared all right—the roar of Hitler's fury rolling across Europe, and the answering shout of the Allied Forces' resistance. The screams of Imperial Japan, and the groan of those who fought her acquisitive march.
The whole decade had been a cacophony of noise. The shriek of air-raid sirens, the whine of aircraft overhead, the staccato chatter of machine guns, the cries of wounded men, the wails of mothers as they were informed of their sons' deaths—and then the shouts of celebration as the news of victory made its slow march across the globe.
And then … silence.
Returning home, terrified to enquire about how Johnny down the road had fared in France, or whether Benny from the cricket club had made it back from Borneo. Then there were the looks, the whispers that followed Edward's limping progress like a curtain-ruffling breeze, the pitying shakes of heads.
"Oh, that poor boy. Lost the leg in Papua, apparently."
"Both his brothers were killed. The older one in Tobruk, and the younger one in, I think it was Bougainville."
It wasn't. Emmett's heart had ceased its steady rhythm, his soul ripped from his body, as he and Edward fought side-by-side in the Battle of Buna-Gona.
Bougainville—that was where, on the Ratsua front, Edward had taken three bullets. One in his shoulder, one just grazing his side, and the other in his calf. They said the blood loss should have killed him, but Edward stubbornly clung to life, determined his mother would not lose all three of her sons to the wretched war. He was healing well, to the amazement of the army doctors, when an infection developed in one of the wounds. And so, he was returned to Australian soil, into his mother's arms, very much alive—but minus a portion of his left leg.
Rubbing absently at the place where his leg ends abruptly, just above the knee, Edward smiles as he watches the girl splashing in the shallows. Though she can't swim, she delights in the sea, and it fills him with joy to watch her play.
That smile slips from his lips as he watches the two uniformed police officers heading down the sand towards her. The group of women who had been yammering away at the pair stand with hands on hips, self-righteous smiles in place, watching their progress.
Reaching for his cane—"blasted thing"—Edward pulls himself upright, cursing the heavy prosthetic leg that hinders his progress over the soft sand.
As he makes his unsteady way to the waterline, Edward can see that the girl's wide smile has fallen from her lips. Her dark eyes clouded with worry, she shakes her head at the officers. They step towards her and she draws back a little. Her retreat, her fear, has Edward's jaw flexing as anger pulses through him.
Her head turns and her shoulders sag when she sees him approaching.
"Is there a problem, officers?" His voice carries a calm he does not feel.
"Do you know this … woman?" The taller of the two asks, his lips pursed and his eyes narrowed.
"She is my wife."
"Edward," she says, stepping towards him. Balancing himself with the aid of his cane, he reaches for her with his free arm. She melts into him, her small frame tense and her soft skin chilled from her swim. His anger cools. He had told her the water was too cold to be enjoyable, but she'd just laughed, teasing him for his softness.
"You're too spoiled, growing up in the sun," she had said.
She exaggerated her accent—the Received Pronunciation, she called it. "At home, this kind of weather would have everyone moaning and complaining. This dreadful heat." She set one hand to her brow and fanned her face dramatically with the other. "Oh, it's just so awful."
The shorter police officer sighs. "Sir, I'm afraid your wife has upset a few of the other beach-goers."
Made them jealous, more like it, Edward thinks, remembering the pursed lips and pointing fingers of the gaggle of nosy biddies speaking to the constables. He imagines their complaining sounded just like the flock of seagulls that wheels overhead, shrieking and cawing.
"We're going to have to ask her to dress herself more modestly," the shorter officer says, "or she must leave the beach immediately."
Edward chuckles as he looks down at his wife. He can't help it. She told him so.
She doesn't smile, and that, more than the two constables addressing them, worries Edward.
"It's entirely my fault, officers," he says. "I bought it for her."
He trails his fingertips across the exposed skin of her back. His sister had sent Isabella the catalogue from Paris, and as soon as he'd seen the picture, he knew he wanted to see her in one. A "bikini," it was called.
He had imagined her, dripping wet as she emerged from the surf, with that small strip of exposed skin at her waist. It had taken a long time to arrive—Edward had almost forgotten about it when the package was delivered, just as the days started to grow long and warm. When Isabella had unwrapped the parcel, her cheeks flushed pink and her smile became shy.
"Golly," she said. "It's a little risqué, no?" She chewed her lip, holding the top piece against her body. "It's so pretty, though."
Edward laughed. "Risqué? It's just a bit of tummy."
He reached for her and she came willingly—would that ever cease to thrill him? "Will you wear it?"
"I'll get arrested," she muttered. "Or chased off the beach." But he could see in her eyes, and in her smile, that she liked it … and more than that, she liked that he liked it so much.
But now, as Officer the Taller frowns at him, Edward feels a stab of guilt. Not because he thinks there's anything improper about his wife's dress—Is she really showing that much more of herself than any other woman on the beach? Hardly—but because of the shame and worry that cloud her face.
"You bought it, sir?" The constable says, his voice rising in pitch with his disbelief. "You sanctioned your wife … e-exposing herself to all these people?" He shakes his head and spits on the sand, muttering something Edward doesn't quite catch. Clearly Isabella does; Edward feels the way her body stiffens against his side.
"Bella," Edward says, looking down into her wide brown eyes. He sees the tears forming there and it rekindles the anger that had faded at her touch. He takes her hand and brings it to his lips.
"Love, why don't you go gather our things up? I think we've had enough sun as it is."
She nods, wiping at the corners of her eyes.
He kisses her temple then nudges her gently. Squaring her shoulders, Isabella walks up the beach. He watches as she picks up a towel and wraps it around herself, then turns his attention back to the constabulary.
Edward straightens his shoulders, as much as he can whilst supporting himself on his cane, and studies the two officers. The shorter one kicks at the sand, refusing to make eye contact. The taller, mouthy one, spits again, muttering some more. He catches the words "whore," "exhibitionist," and "disgusting," and his knuckles turn white as they tighten around the handle of his walking stick.
His gut twists as he realises his impotence. It's more than his body that he feels is crippled in this moment. His pride is, too.
As a younger man, able-bodied, whole, Edward wouldn't have thought twice before taking a swing at anyone, police officer or not, who had insulted himself or his family so grossly. But now, he's all too aware that he'd be flat on his face with a mouthful of sand if he tried.
So he does the only thing he can, he ignores the foul words that lie at his feet in the glob of Officer Taller's spittle, and directs his gaze to Officer Shorter.
"All right," he says. "We're leaving. I trust that's the end of the matter."
Officer Shorter shifts his weight, looking at his companion and then back at Edward. "Yes. I suggest your wife dress more modestly in future."
With a curt nod, Edward turns carefully and makes his slow and unsteady way back up the sand.
Isabella smiles softly at him as he reaches her. She's slipped her sundress on and all their things are packed neatly into the basket. She tucks herself under his shoulder—for all appearances, a show of sweet affection. It's more than that though, acting like a human crutch, she supports some of his weight, easing his progress on the softer, dry sand.
He nods, swallowing down the lump in his throat that's stopping him from speaking. "Thank you," he says, the words coming out more roughly than he intends.
The walk home would take Isabella twenty minutes on her own, but takes Edward closer to half an hour. She doesn't seem to mind their slow progress. Edward can hear her soft humming over the uneven rhythm of his footsteps.
It's only once they turn onto Penkivil Street that Edward speaks. He's spent the entire walk trying to sort through his jumbled thoughts. "I'm sorry," he says.
Isabella looks at him, her eyes wide. Edward forgets what he intended to say as he watches the afternoon sunshine, dappled by a large jacaranda tree, play on her face. Her eyes seem almost golden in this light.
"Sorry?" She sighs. "You have no reason to be sorry."
He shakes his head to clear his mind. "Yes, I do. I–I was selfish in wanting to see you in that bathing suit. I didn't think – well, that's the problem isn't it? I just didn't think."
"It doesn't matter," Isabella says. He can hear her sincerity, and if anything, it makes him feel worse.
"It does matter, Bella." He moves away from her as he steps around a large stick lying in wait on the footpath. "I saw … I didn't hear what he said, but I know it hurt you. And you being hurt, that does matter to me."
She swings open the front gate and waits for him to go through. It clangs shut behind them as they make their way up the front steps.
It's not until they're inside their flat that she speaks again. "I wanted you to see me in it, too."
He kisses her temple, lets her lead him into their bedroom. It's dim in here, and even the sprigs of lavender and rosemary Isabella brought in from the front garden this morning can't quite mask the slightly dank smell that lingers when the humidity is high.
Edward sits on the end of their bed with a groan, running a hand across the small triangles, diamonds and squares from which their bedspread is formed. Isabella spent hours and hours making their quilt, and its blues and greens and soft yellows are a reflection of the beach they spent the afternoon enjoying.
"I'm all sandy and salty," she says, running her hands over her arms. "I need to wash."
"Later," Edward says, patting the bed beside him.
"I'll get sand all over the bed," she says, but she lets him catch her hand and pull her down beside him. With a sigh, she lays her head against his shoulder. The feel of her hair brushing against his arm reminds him of the first time he ever held her close, on the evening they first met.
26 December, 1947.
"Are you coming tonight, little brother?" Alice plopped herself down beside Edward on the sofa, fanning her face. "Golly, it's hot."
Edward ignored the question, hoping she'd forget she asked. "The heat's not so bad," he said. "It's the humidity that's getting to me."
Alice looked at her brother, perfectly-sculpted eyebrows raised. "The dance, Edward. At the Catholic Club. You'll come, won't you?"
The words escaped without thought. "What on earth for?" Being shoved into the midst of a sweaty, flirty, mobile crowd was not high on Edward's list of "enjoyable ways to spend a hot December evening."
And even if he could dance, Edward didn't feel up to being sociable. Christmastime was particularly difficult in the Masen home, the absence of his brothers was never felt more acutely than during the "festive" season. He missed them. He missed Emmett's boisterous laugh, his easy grin, even his crude sense of humour. He missed Jasper's quiet intelligence, his continual challenging of people's ideology, the way he could twist any statement you made on its ear until you had no idea what you were saying, let alone what you believed.
He missed, too, who he was when his brothers were alive. The middle boy. Neither as strong as Emmett, nor as clever as Jasper, yet aware of, and content in, his place in his family. Without them, he felt lost, unsure as to who he should be. Trying to fill three pairs of shoes when he could no longer fill his own.
"Edward … you simply must go, darling." His mother perched on the arm of the sofa, her hand on his shoulder.
He sighed. "I can't dance."
"That doesn't matter." Alice waved her hand. He wished it were that easy. A wave of his hand to dismiss the constant inadequacy he felt.
"Just think," his mother said, "you might meet a lovely young girl there."
He looked up, a sarcastic remark already on his tongue. But the spark of hope in his mother's grey eyes had him swallowing the sour words.
When had she gotten so old? When had all that silver woven its way into her hair? When had those lines around her eyes and mouth become so deep, so pronounced?
"You'll have a wonderful time, I'm sure," she said.
Edward sighed. He couldn't disappoint her. Not today.
And so, at just after nine o'clock, Edward found himself watching around eighty young men and women laugh and flirt as they flung their bodies around the old hall.
Swing, boogie-woogie and bop had just landed on Australian shores with newly found access to the recordings of the likes of Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, and while Edward revelled in the freedom the music screamed into his soul, he also hated it. He had never felt more crippled as he leant against the wall at the back of the club, head nodding, hand drumming on his thigh, the wailing horns echoing in his chest.
He felt the pull and tug of the music. "Move," it said. "Dance," it demanded. But Edward could not surrender to its will. He could barely walk a mile without a rest, so painful was the prosthetic limb they'd fitted him with.
He searched out Alice in her red dress, smiling widely as some fair-haired guy spun her around the room, his teeth bright against his tanned skin.
He checked his watch and sighed. Half past nine.
"Edward, dear," Rosalie Hale appeared at his side, her voice straining over the music. He leant down to kiss her withered cheek. "How are you? How's your Mum?"
She didn't wait for an answer. "Would you be a lamb and help Isabella with the dishes?" She pointed towards the kitchen door.
He agreed easily, grateful for the opportunity to feel useful, to not be the pathetic fool painted to the back wall, watching and not participating.
"Thank you, dear. Tell your mother I said hello. I'll drop around to see her sometime next week."
Edward assured her he would pass along her greetings, then made his slow way across the hall, gritting his teeth as he dodged the wilder dancers.
"Can I help you?" A dark-haired girl with a soft British accent looked up from the sink as he entered the kitchen.
"I've been sent to help you, I believe," he said. "Are you Isabella?"
She nodded. "That's me."
"Edward," he said. Isabella extended her hand, still dripping with suds. He took it with a smile. "Nice to meet you."
"And you. Now, how about I wash and you dry?"
At first they worked in easy silence, Isabella splashing about in the sink, and Edward wiping dry the crockery she handed him. A neat pile of gleaming plates and platters sprang up on the bench.
"This is much faster with your help," she said, indicating the stacked dishes with her elbow. Edward liked the way he could hear her smile in her voice.
"I'm happy to be of use."
She nodded, concentrating on scrubbing the jam-and-cream residue from a large plate with a vivid red flower painted in the centre.
"This flower …" She tapped the china with a fingernail "What's it called?"
"Uh, I think it's a grevillea."
"It's very pretty," she said. "Our neighbours have one growing in their backyard."
Edward smiled at her enthusiasm. "Have you been in Sydney long?"
She tipped her head, considering. "Just over a year now." She handed him another sudsy platter. She continued on, as though she knew what he'd ask next.
"Our street was destroyed in an air-raid. The rebuild was taking forever, and I think my father had just had enough of London. He needed a change. Needed to get away from the constant reminders of my mother."
"I'm sorry." Edward felt his heart give a little squeeze—for Isabella's mother or his own losses, he couldn't tell. "She was killed … in the raid?"
"Oh, no." Isabella shook her head, her long hair swinging. "She took off with another man a few months before war was declared." She waved a hand, dismissing the subject with a shower of soapy water. "But a few families we knew were emigrating to Australia—ten pound Poms, they call us—and the chance to start over was appealing to Dad … to both of us.
"And it's been good for him, for my dad. He seems a lot happier here. He likes the warm weather, and the constant sunshine."
"And you? Do you like it here?"
Isabella's cheeks coloured. "It's certainly growing on me."
When the last of the dishes had been dried, Isabella looked up into Edward's eyes, and with her wide smile, she stole his breath and his heart.
"Dance with me?"
Edward frowned, his borrowed heart sinking in his chest. "I can't," he said, regret colouring his tone. Oh, how he wished he could. His arms felt strangely empty at the mere thought of holding her close.
"Sure you can," she said, grabbing his hand. He didn't pull away.
"My leg …" He shook his head, his cheeks burning. He was sure she would have noticed the cane, the limp.
"I know," she said. Her smile didn't falter.
Edward opened and closed his mouth, as though the appropriate words might just fall out of it.
"So you're not Fred Astaire." She giggled. "That's lucky, because I'm no Ginger … but surely you can hold a girl close for a while and sway on the spot?"
As though he was going to say no.
Without releasing his hand, Isabella led him out of the kitchen, matching her pace to his, and into a relatively empty corner of the hall.
Edward wouldn't be able to recall which song was playing as he set a hand on her waist, as she curled an arm around his shoulder. He would, however, be able to recall the sweet, clean smell of dish-soap and lavender that clung to her skin, the feel of her water-pruned fingers in his, and the way her eyes shone like amber. He would recall the brush of her hair against his arm as they swayed, the feel of the soft, yellow cotton of her dress under his palm, and the way his heart thrummed in his chest like a honeyeater in flight.
It was all too soon that the music slowed and eventually ceased. As the musicians on stage packed away their instruments, and the sweaty-faced, smiling dancers filed out of the club, laughing and chattering, Isabella and Edward remained. She seemed as unwilling to step back as Edward was to release her.
She looked up at him, her smile small but lighting her whole face, and it took everything in him not to lower his head and press his lips to hers.
"Edward?" Alice's voice echoed through the almost empty hall. "Edward, I'm – oh. I'll see you at home."
Edward didn't glance her way, his eyes fixed on the girl in his arms.
"I should go," Isabella said, her voice a murmur. Still, she made no attempt to move away.
He swallowed hard. "May I see you again?"
She nodded, hair bouncing against the arm he still had curled around her waist, her cheeks flushing pink. "I'd like that."
"What did he say? The police officer?"
Isabella sighs. "It doesn't matter."
"No," she says, her voice firm. "It doesn't. It bothered me for all of half a minute, but then I realised I don't care what he, or that gaggle of interfering women, think of me." She flips his hand over, tracing the tip of her finger across the deep-gouged lines of his palm. "I know my heart, Edward. You know my heart. That's all that matters."
"I love you," Edward says. There's an echo of awe in his voice.
Isabella lifts her head and presses a kiss to his lips. "As I love you."
A joke about him loving her more dissolves on his tongue as she slips off the bed and kneels before him, it's falsity evident in the careful way she lifts his pant leg, then unclasps the heavy prosthetic limb and sets it aside. Her hands are cool and gentle as she massages the sensitive skin at the end of his ruined leg. This prosthetic is more comfortable than the first models he was fitted with, but prolonged wear still becomes painful.
"Come here," he says, crooking a finger.
Isabella obliges, lifting her face to his once more, but she giggles and pulls away when he tries to deepen the kiss.
His heart speeds as her fingers find the first button of his shirt. She smiles, not meeting his eyes, as she helps him out of the light cotton shirt, then lifts his singlet over his head.
"Scoot back," she says, her voice just a murmur.
He obeys, using his arms to shift himself backwards, until his head finds the pillows. It's not just his heart rate responding as Isabella undoes the button of his trousers, and pulls them, along with his underwear, over his hips.
She drops them on the floor and meets his gaze. He's long since given up searching for disgust or pity in her appraisal of his scarred and imperfect form. It's not there—it never has been. Not even the first time they did this, a few weeks before their wedding night, with him protesting that he could wait, and her shushing him. She apparently, could not.
"Come here," he repeats.
She shakes her head, her smile becoming coy. She slips her sundress over her head and adds it to the pile of clothes at the foot of the bed.
"Wait," Edward says, lifting himself onto his elbows as she hooks her fingers into the bottoms of her bikini. She does, her cheeks turning pink as his gaze crawls across her figure, drinking her in.
"You're very … sexy," he tells her. He loves the way her blush deepens—that she can be so bold, stripping him out of his clothes, and yet so shy about removing her own.
"Can I finish getting undressed now?"
He grins. "Please."
Once she stands before him, naked, her skin fairer in some places than others, she bites her lip and winks at him. He chuckles as her gaze drops to his crotch, but his laughter becomes a sharp intake of breath as she crawls onto the bed, knees either side of his body, her breasts swaying.
He grunts as her soft skin sweeps over where he is aching for her. She pauses, looking up at him, her head cocked. She shuffles back a bit, watching him carefully. His eyes squeeze shut and his jaw locks as her mouth closes over him.
"Oh, Christ. Bella … Bella …"
He'll never get used to this, her willingness to please him this way. He used to feel guilty for wanting it, sure that she'd find it, and him, repugnant. He could never bring himself to articulate his desire—after all, he still hadn't wrapped his head around the fact that she could want him. Before Isabella danced into his life, he'd convinced himself that this kind of physical intimacy and pleasure was something he was unlikely to experience.
She'd been the one who asked if she could, stuttering and refusing to look at him, still flushed from the pleasure his fingers had brought her. When he caught on to what she was intimating, he'd agreed with an embarrassing eagerness.
Today, though, whilst he's definitely enjoying the feel of her lips and tongue, he wants more, he wants—needs—to be closer to her. "Bella, wait." His voice is strained. "Stop, love."
She pauses, looking up at him, worry lining her brow.
He smiles in reassurance. "Come here."
This time she does.
One hand on the swell of her hip, he winds the other into her hair, pulling her mouth to his. He kisses her, pouring everything into it—all the love he has for her, all his amazement that she loves him in return, all his thankfulness for her constant devotion. She melts against him, tiny gasps escaping her when they break for breath.
"Please," she whispers. "I–I want you."
"You have me."
Isabella pushes up, moving against him until their bodies are joined. His breath caught in his throat, Edward lifts his hands to her breasts. Sensation overwhelms him: the warm slickness of her, her hard nipples under his palms and the soft brush of her hair against the backs of his hands, the weight of her body on his thighs.
Back arching as her pleasure builds, Isabella finds her release with a soft moan. Her body limp above him, Edward grips her hips and follows, his muscles contracting and then releasing as a wave of ecstasy crashes over him.
Isabella collapses onto his chest, and Edward wraps an arm around her, pushing her long hair out of her face. Her lips are swollen and deep red, her cheeks flushed, a sheen of perspiration on her brow. "You're beautiful," he says.
She smiles sleepily. "I feel a little grotty, actually. But thank you."
"Sand and salt," she says, her words less precise than usual. "Sticky."
"Ah." Edward moves his good leg across the quilt, feeling the grainy texture of the sand that now covers their bed. "We should clean up."
She yawns and sits up. "We should."
They work together to strip the bed, then refit the sheets. Isabella does most of the work, Edward thinks he probably hinders more than he helps, but her smile never falters.
"Don't fall asleep without me," she scolds, pushing him playfully onto the crisply folded sheets. "I won't be long."
It's only a few minutes before she re-enters the bedroom, frowning at her extended arms. "I think I might have gotten a touch sunburnt." Her hair is damp, and she wears only a bath towel.
Edward pokes gently at her shoulder. His fingerprint lingers white for a moment before the pink flush returns. She is sunburnt. "Do we have any tomatoes?"
Isabella frowns. "I think so. Why?"
"According to my mother, it's very good for sunburn. You cut it in half and then rub the juicy parts over your skin."
She scrunches up her nose. "That sounds revolting."
"Yes." He chuckles.
"Well, later." She sits on the edge of the bed. "Nap with me first?"
She falls asleep easily, her face turned towards him, her hand clasped around his. Edward watches the soft rise and fall of her shoulders, the fluttery movement of her eyelids as she dreams, listening to the quiet rhythm of her breathing.
Sometimes the love he has for her catches him by surprise, overwhelming him with its magnitude. Other times, like now, he can almost feel it growing, expanding, overtaking him until he's sure it can't be contained inside his flawed and broken body.
"I love you," he whispers.
Isabella sighs in her sleep. Edward slides the hand not holding hers under his pillow, and he watches her dream until his own blinks grow slow and heavy and a peaceful sleep claims him.
A/N: Thank you so much to SassyKathy, who chose this as her Judges' Choice Winner in the Literotica category.
Thank you to dreaminginnorweigen for pre-reading and cheerleading. I'd almost convinced myself I couldn't do this when I sent her the first 1000 words - and she told me to keep going and assured me it didn't suck. Thanks, beebs.
Thank you also, to Astro2009 for betaing for me, and for sharing a beautiful piece of her family history with me, too. Thank you, lovely.
My maternal grandmother was kicked off Bondi Beach in the summer of '50 or '51 for wearing a bikini. She was a free-spirited woman, born well ahead of her times - I keep meaning to fictionalise the story of her life, but no one would believe it!
My paternal grandparents met at a dance on Boxing Day. My grandfather, a British naval officer, volunteered to wash dishes so he could be speak to my grandmother. They married four months later, and are still going strong after more than 63 years together.
Thank you to everyone who read and voted for "On Penkivil Street," and thank you to all the hosts and judges of the 2013 Age of Edward contest for the opportunity to write this.