Codebreakers

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What a time it was. She’d taken training in Morse Code when she joined the Canadian Women’s Army Corps in 1942. She took any training courses that were offered. She wanted desperately to do her part in the war effort. All her work paid off when she was sent to the Farm. At first, she wondered what on earth she would be doing at a farm but her commanding officer explained that ‘the Farm’ was officially Camp X – a top-secret training and communications centre. She was assigned as a communications operator, copying Morse Code. The code she copied was then translated by others. Her job was to listen and carefully record what she heard. Sometimes, when she couldn’t sleep, she’d think about how what she did fit into the war effort. She wondered if it would make any difference to the boys on the battlefield. But then she’d go back to sleep because she needed to be at the top of her game so that she wouldn’t miss anything. It was a heady feeling to do important work.

 

On her first day back from the hospital, she desperately needed a cup of properly-brewed tea. What a production. She maneuvered her way with the help of a walker to the kitchen, filled the kettle, plugged it in, and put the tea bags in the pot. By the time she got back to the couch, she was ready for a nap.

The doorbell rang. Jo heard the sound but thought she was still in the hospital with buzzers and bells disturbing her sleep. It rang again. She opened her eyes and realized where she was and that she’d fallen asleep. Everything hurt. There was no possibility that she could get up and struggle to the door. So she bellowed.

“Come in, it’s open.”

The doorbell rang again. Perhaps uncouth but certainly necessary, she hollered.

“COME IN, IT’S OPEN!”

A young woman came round the corner into the living-room. They stared at each other for an uncomfortable moment and then Jo spoke.

“What on earth?”

Jo was not sure who or what was standing in front of her. Blue hair covered the girl’s head. What looked like a nail pierced her right eyebrow. Her clothes were black and she wore army boots. As Jo struggled to decide if she had invited a crazed murderer into her home, the girl spoke.

“Martha Goode, reporting for duty!” The girl mock-saluted Jo. “Here’s my ID from the agency – boy, nobody trusts anybody anymore. So, what do you need me to do first?”

Oh no. This was not happening. It was inconceivable, or was it, that the stupid woman from the home care agency sent this … this person to care for her during her convalescence.

“Young woman. I was expecting someone who is more suited to caring for someone like me.”

“More suited? Oh you mean because of how I look. Yeah, well, you can’t always judge a book by its cover – isn’t that what they say? You just wait: I’m going to make you the best lunch you’ve ever eaten. So sit tight and I’ll bring it to you when it’s ready.”

MORE pages to follow: click the page numbers below!
author
Christine lives in Lethbridge, Alberta with her husband and dog; part of her heart, however, belongs at her cottage in the Crowsnest Pass where she does most of her writing. She is a member of the Writer’s Guild of Alberta, has been published in Whetstone, the Globe and Mail, WestWord magazine, and won the William Wardill Prize in Fiction in Canadian Stories magazine in 2012.
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