From tonight's Skype meeting:
Splash, plop, giggle. Splash, plop, giggle. The boy would never tire of his game. He glanced up. “Mama, are you watching? Do you see the big splashes I’m making?”
“I’m watching, dear,” Charlotte said, “but we need to go home.” She glanced at the bundle in her arms. “The baby is getting wet.”
“Oh, alright.” He skipped to catch up to his mother and walked beside her, stomping in every puddle that crossed their path. He picked up a dripping leaf. “Mama, this looks like an L, for Lucy. See, Lucy, this is your leaf. Mama, how do you spell Lucy?”
“L-U-C-Y. But do hurry up, Jamie.”
“L-U-C-Y,” James chanted as he hunted in the muddy gravel for the rest of the letters that made up his little sister’s name.
By the time they arrived at home, all his clothes were wet, and he had found only the L and the U. Charlotte made him keep the leaves outside, which he almost complained about, before he remembered that she had promised him a story after she put the baby down for a nap.
On her way to the nursery, Charlotte paused by the portrait hanging in the hallway. The last she had heard from Blaise, he had been healthy—as healthy as could be expected—but hungry. How awful to know her husband was across the world going hungry, while she cared for the children and avoided talking about their father.
One day the war would end and they would be a family again. But until then, there were many days of the same loneliness and fear.