I glanced once more at the living room clock. Had it stopped? No, ten more minutes to wait.

Mum was in the kitchen watching over her precious rabbit stew. The butcher had been really kind and generous this week. How had he managed to get rabbit? It smelled delicious. A Yorkshire pudding had been made with dried eggs to complement it.

I went into the front room where the coal fire was burning making the surrounding brassware shimmer and reflect the warmth. Due to the rationing, this fire was lit on only very special occasions and today was one of them.

Everything in the room was perfect. The furniture had been polished until it gleamed, cushion covers and antimacassars had been laundered and starched and the pot dog on the windowsill had been washed along with the cut glass vase. All was ready.

I sat and watched the flickering flames, at the same time looking for ‘faces’ in the fire. With a little imagination, one could see an old man with a beard in the top right-hand corner. Below, surely that was a skull.

The old grandmother clock chimed three, bringing me back to reality with a jolt. Five more minutes.

I scrambled eagerly onto the red velvet covered chair in the bay window and looked up the road towards the top of the hill.

Fluff our old, grey cat jumped up beside me. She too sensed the atmosphere. The road was empty. Where was it?

At last the red Hebble bus, the cause of so much agitation,came over the brow of the hill. “It’s here, it’s here.”

Fluff leaped onto the windowsill as mum came rushing out of the kitchen her face flushed with a mixture of heat from the oven and excitement. We both watched, first eagerly, then in dismay, as the Hebble sped past the bus stop, came down the road and disappeared round a bend out of sight.

I stared at mum. “Never mind,” she said “There’s another in twenty minutes.” Twenty minutes, it was forever. I sat and watched the minute hand on the clock face crawl from one little black dot to the next. Never had time dragged by so slowly.

I picked up my comic but was unable to get interested in Desperate Dan and his antics.

Two more minutes. I again took up my position in the bay window.

Another red bus eventually trundled up the hill. This time it came to a halt, threw out its passengers and continued on its way. Mum looked at my despondent face. “Put some more coal on the fire, love,” she said gently. “We will have to draw the curtains soon because of the blackout. Don’t worry, there’s still plenty of time.”

I went into the kitchen where the old coal bucket was kept under the sink, heaved it into the sitting room and banked up the fire. “Can we leave the curtains just until the next bus comes?”

“Go upstairs and getyour costume ready, I’ve ironed it for you,” she replied with a nod and a smile.

The costume was a vile green, gauze, shapeless tunic. Who had ever heard of an angel dressed in green? The gold tinsel halo suddenly appeared dull, tatty anc insipid. However, I packed them carefully into a carrier bag, at the same time rehearsing my one line in the school nativity play. “It is in truth good counsel we will go.” How proud and excited I had been when chosen to be the leading angel. Now all that exhileration had vanished and I felt despondent and let down.

He had promised he would be there to

see me and now…….

Returning to the sitting room I glanced yet again at the clock whose hands moved at a snail’s pace. The cat too seemed to realise that time had to be killed. She strolled over to the fire and stretched out on the rug, lapping up the warmth.

Looking up the now darkening road I saw the single decker arrive and come to a halt at the bus stop. Then a familiar figure alighted. “He’s here.” With these words I dashed to the door, flew down the garden path and up the road to meet the handsome man in the RAF uniform. He gathered me in his arms, “Hello, bugger-lugs, are you OK?” His pet name was to cause me great embarrassment in my teenage life but, at the tender age of ten, Ijust grinned.

“Come on there’s rabbit stew.”

I never noticed mum and dad greet each other. I had rushed upstairs to get my beautiful angel outfit complete with glittering halo. “Look, this is what I’m wearing tonight, isn’t it lovely?”

For the next 48 hours everything was going to be wonderful.

Barbara Venohr