Constructed over two centuries ago, the Private Garden now sits in the middle of a busy intersection, beneath a gigantic statue of a British Statesman. The last thing Vivien Hall expects when she visits the garden is to be transported back in time to the nineteen-forties––in the midst of an Air Raid, to boot.
While there, she meets a captivating Air Force Officer, named Curtis Matthews. They have an erotic encounter. But as soon as Vivien falls asleep she finds herself back in the twenty-first century again.
Her subsequent time travels to visit her lover, and her attempts to validate his existence––her friend believes she hallucinated the whole episode––make up an erotic and romantically haunting story about love and loss.
She waited until all fell silent, then stole across the road. She felt like Aladdin about to rub the magic lamp.
Yes, the atmosphere felt right. She could travel back tonight, she was sure. “Curtis…” she murmured his name like a mantra. “Darling…darling…” Her eyelids felt heavy, she grew drowsy, when she awoke she was in another dimension.
Sirens screamed and howled. Searchlights scoured the black sky. Footsteps rushed by. Someone shouted: “They’re close tonight.”
“Aye, the bastards are making for Clydeside, again.” Another voice agreed.
Oh God, it’s another Air Raid.
Vivien stumbled to her feet, and rubbed her eyes. She didn’t want to end up in the air raid shelter again. She had no feeling that Curtis would be there. Could she dodge the air raid wardens and make it over to Coates Crescent?
She cut down a pathway beside Kitty and Bruce Dawes’s house––or what would become theirs in future––and took the back lanes over to number eleven.
Anti-aircraft fire exploded nearby. The Home Guard would be manning the guns from rooftops. What a moment to choose for her return to the nineteen-forties, she thought bemusedly. With a bang.
Coates Crescent stood as black and forbidding as the dark side of the moon. She hurried up the steps, feeling her way, rather than risk even the tiny beam of her flashlight. She didn’t want to be spotted and herded into an air raid shelter.
She pulled the bell for Curtis’ apartment.
She tried again, and again, until she tugged at it non-stop like a madwoman.
He wasn’t there.
Ghastly images of his plane being shot down forced themselves onto her. It had been a while since she had seen him. It was wartime. Anything could have happened.
She stumbled down the steps, bitterly disappointed. She wasn’t even sure if Curtis’ time passed in the same way as hers. Perhaps a day in the twenty-first century was a month in the nineteen-forties, or vice versa? Who was to say? She wouldn’t find the answer in Wikipedia. The thought amused her, despite her unhappiness.
An enemy aircraft had been hit. Vivien clutched the railing for support and watched its rapid downward spiral. A loud bang, followed by an explosion flamed on the sooty horizon.
Oh God, this was bigger, much bigger than the previous air raid. She could hear the roar of dozens of aircraft. Some would be RAF fighter planes. Curtis might be on one of them.
She must get back to the Private Garden. She would be safe there.
A vehicle, travelling at high speed, rounded the corner onto Coates Crescent and pulled to a stop at the curb. It looked like a military style jeep. Vivien couldn’t make out the lettering on its side. If it was RAF…might it be Curtis?
The thought of the blissful reunion that would follow left her trembling.
She stood in the shadows, watching. Three men got out…and yes they were wearing the grey uniforms of the RAF. She held her breath, afraid to breathe lest they were a mirage concocted by her own tortured mind. She scanned their faces desperately. She didn’t recognise the first two. But the third man, short with red hair was immediately familiar. Rex! He would know where Curtis was. She stepped out to greet him.
“Vivien, we’ve been looking for you,” he said.
“Why? Has something happened to Curtis?”
“We need you to come with us.” His tone was brisk. He avoided her eyes.
“But I don’t understand. Is Curtis in the hospital? Has he been wounded?”
The other two men, and she could now see their Military Police armbands, moved in beside her.
“You’re under arrest,” Rex said.
“Arrest? For what? Have you gone mad?”
Good God in Heaven, they thought she was a spy!
Panic gripped her like pincers. They shot spies in wartime. She lashed out, caught them off guard. Forced her trembling legs to run faster than ever before. Her heart felt like it would burst. This had turned into a nightmare. She had to get back to the safety of the Private Garden. Their heavy footsteps pounded after her, gaining ground. Sirens wailed. Bombs exploded overhead. She would never make it. She tore around a corner, and collided with an air raid warden.
“Hold onto her!” Rex shouted. “She’s resisting arrest.”
It was all over. She collapsed on the ground and wept.