Roy Glashan's Library
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DAVID WRIGHT O'BRIEN
(WRITING AS CPL. DUNCAN FARNSWORTH)

I'LL SEE YOU AGAIN

Cover Image

RGL e-Book Cover

First published in Amazing Stories, September 1944

This e-book edition: Roy Glashan's Library, 2019
Version Date: 2021-10-02
Produced by Paul Sandery and Roy Glashan

All original content added by RGL is protected by copyright.

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NOTE

By a quirk of destiny David Wright O'Brien suffered the same fate as the airman in this fantasy cameo. He was killed, at age 26, when his crippled bomber crashed during the return flight from an air raid over Germany in December 1944, just a few months after the following premonitional tale appeared on the pages of Amazing Stories. —Roy Glashan.




Cover Image

Amazing Stories, September 1944, with "I'll See You Again"



He came back from the hell of flak over Germany
because he had promised to see her in the springtime.




IT was odd that she should have been playing their record when the telephone rang. She had been sitting there in the living room with the record on the phonograph machine. She had been smoking a cigarette and reading his latest letter for the dozenth time—and, of course, playing their tune.

The tune wasn't old, not really old, that is—it seemed only yesterday when they'd first danced to it and he'd held her close and sang the words softly into her ear.


"I'll see you again, whenever spring breaks through again."


That hadn't been so long ago. In days and eras and events, perhaps it had been. But not in her heart. It seemed scarcely yesterday. And they'd never lost the tune. Even later, when they were married, it was the one they requested whenever they danced to an orchestra together. He'd always played the piano well, and he'd saved that tune always for something that was special and just their own.

He had played it that afternoon, the afternoon he left. It was his last leave home before going over, and they both were aware of the aching days that were to form a gulf between them. A gulf they'd not be able to bridge again until the flames of war had died.


"Time may lie heavy between ..."


There had been a huskiness in his voice that afternoon. And when she had smiled, sitting there beside him at the piano, there had been tears in her eyes.

She had always played it afterward, on the phonograph until the record was worn and scratched and she'd had to get a new one, when going through the ritual of reading his weekly letters. A cigarette, solitude, his letter and their tune.

And on this particular evening she had felt so very close to him that the words of his letter came to her ears rather than her eyes, and in the music from the phonograph there was the completion of his nearness.

That was when the telephone rang.

She hesitated a moment, before putting the letter down and going to answer the phone's insistent clamor. She didn't turn off the machine that was playing their song. She put down the letter, crushed out her cigarette, and stepped over to answer the phone.

"Darling!"

She knew his voice with that first word, and she closed her eyes, while her heart hammered in her breast and her excitement left her breathless. It was impossible. It couldn't be he. She had dreamed too long and too futilely of this moment for it ever to come true.

"Where are you?" she had begged, when she at last found words.

His answer was almost lost to her; she was hypnotized by the sound of his voice and almost completely unaware of the words he was saying.

"Depot ... here ... you take a cab ... only a few minutes ... passing through ... haven't long ..."

She stood there moments after she had placed the telephone back in the cradle. Stood there holding her hand to her heart to still the wild excitement of this moment.

He was here! In this very city!

Going where, she knew not. How it was that he had returned from England, she cared not. The one, important, tinglingly ecstatic thing was that he was here.

She tried to compose herself in the taxi. She tried to tell herself that she had to be calm. She had to be smiling when she went to his arms. She tried to think of the thousand and one things she wanted to tell him, and tried to decide which of these would be the most important. He had said it would only be for a few minutes. There wouldn't be time to tell him all that was in her heart.

She didn't remember if she had paid the cabbie or not, but she supposed that she had, for he hadn't called after her as she'd rushed into the depot.

There seemed to be thousands in the depot, and all seemed to be uniformed. She had a moment of black panic at the sight of all the uniforms. Supposing she were unable to find him in this crowd? What if he were unable to find her?

And then she saw him.


HE was moving through the crowd, swiftly, smilingly, his arms outstretched, and she ran to them.

Her face was against the tunic of his uniform, and the silver of his wings was cool against her cheek. His strong arms were around her and, though she had made herself promise that she wouldn't, she was crying.

"Darling," she said, "darling, darling, darling."

She looked up at him and smiled.

"That's better," he told her. He reached into his tunic pocket, found a handkerchief. "Here."

She touched her damp eyes with it, and then his arms were once again around her and his lips were close to her ear.

"Time may lie heavy between," he said.

And she knew he remembered. He hadn't forgotten their song. She knew the answer he wanted.

"And what has been, is past forgetting," she told him.

There were moments again in his embrace. Moments more precious than any eternity. In that huge, crowded, teeming room there was no one but the two of them, no world save their own.

At last he said, "It's good-bye now, darling."

Fright came into her eyes, and her hand tightened convulsively over the handkerchief she still held. "Where this time, darling?"

He shook his head.

"I can't tell you."

"But for how long, this time?"

Again he shook his head.

"You'll know, very shortly," he promised. "That's all I can tell you."

"Darling!" The word came from her lips as a sob.

He put his arms swiftly around her, kissed her once, lingeringly, and then he was moving off, moving away from her into the crowd, his uniform joining the others, his clean white smile flashing against the bronze of his face, his hand waving his farewell.

She followed him with her eyes, and her heart was in them. She smiled, and hoped it was a brave smile and the smile he wanted to see. And then his uniform had completed the camouflage with the thousand others and he was lost from sight.

She turned slowly, and started out of the depot ...


SHE heard the tune as she climbed the flight of stairs to her apartment. And then she recalled that she hadn't shut off the machine in the excitement of her departure a scant hour before. It was one of those automatic phonographs, and it played a record again and again if it were the last of a stack.


"I'll see you again, whenever spring breaks through again..."


The words ached in her heart as she fumbled in her purse for her key. She didn't hear the door opening across the hall. And it wasn't until the white-haired old lady who occupied that apartment spoke, that she became aware of her presence.

"I'm so glad you're back," the old lady said somewhat breathlessly. "I heard your phonograph playing, but you didn't answer when the boy rang, nor when I rang. He left this for you."

The old lady handed her the telegram.

She thanked her automatically, and opened the door of her apartment. The music was louder now. The old lady, curious as only very old ladies can be, lingered hopefully, her eyes wistfully on the telegram.

"Aren't you going to read it?" she asked.

"In a moment," she said.

The old lady sighed and went back to her own apartment.

It wasn't until she had closed the door behind her that she glanced at the telegram in her hand. And then she walked into the living room, where the phonograph was still playing, tearing open the telegram abstractedly.


"Time may lie heavy between..."


The song was a blur between her eyes and the words of the telegram.


"But what has been..."


She was reading the telegram for the second time, still without conscious comprehension of what it meant.


"Is past forgetting..."


And then the import of the message came to her, each word striking with dreadful, anvil clarity on her brain.


"REGRET TO INFORM YOU ... YOUR HUSBAND ... SGT. ... KILLED IN ACTION ... BOMBER SWEEP OVER GERMANY..."


She didn't realize that she had dropped her purse, and that she now held only the telegram and the handkerchief that he had given her. She stared first at the telegram, then at the handkerchief, and a fist closed around her heart.


"REGRET ... HUSBAND ... KILLED ... BOMBER ... GERMANY..."


The words hadn't changed, though in those brief seconds she had begged God that they would. And then she became conscious of the handkerchief.

And as she opened it, to see his initials in the corner, she saw, for the first time, the small crimson stain on the other corner of it....


THE END


Roy Glashan's Library
Non sibi sed omnibus
Go to Home Page
This work is out of copyright in countries with a copyright
period of 70 years or less, after the year of the author's death.
If it is under copyright in your country of residence,
do not download or redistribute this file.
Original content added by RGL (e.g., introductions, notes,
RGL covers) is proprietary and protected by copyright.