He leaned out of the carriage window as far as he dared - his mates hanging on to his legs.
"Just one more kiss.."
All he could see as the train pulled away was her smiling face and the huge bouquet of paper flowers.
His mother had made them for her .."You can't get married without a bouquet and we can't afford real flowers."
Sylvie was delighted, she couldn't care less about real flowers, only that they were married. Her mother in law was as creative as she was kind. She'd taken her in from the moment they were engaged and treated her like the daughter she never had.
Archie wasn't expecting to be sent overseas for some months yet, but with just two days notice, they decided to get married.
It was then Archie made a promise.. to be home by their first wedding anniversary. They married the afternoon before he was to leave..and he'd asked her to carry the bouquet at the station so he could remember her as his bride.
Each letter he wrote carried his last words to her "I promise". Sylvie and his mother waited anxiously for mail. Weeks would pass and nothing came, them sometimes a couple came at once. Sylvie wrote every second day, not knowing when Archie would get to read them. She busied herself working in the Red Cross Canteen. Many soldiers came there on leave, but never anyone from Archie's unit.
Though she had no way of being certain, she suspected that Archie was in France. He'd told her he'd try to include a clue if he could get it through the censors. He mentioned that he missed her most in the Evenings - with a capital E. Sylvie smiled .. the first gift he had given her was a tiny bottle of Evening in Paris scent.
Sylvie scanned the papers daily, relieved when his name was missing from the casualty lists. Meanwhile, Archie dreamed of the young wife he'd left behind, always seeing her with that bouquet. As most of his mates did, he gave his friend a letter to be passed on to his bride if anything should happen to him, then forgot all about it.
Many weeks passed, no letters came to Sylvie, then one bright sunny morning, just as Sylvie was leaving for work, a telegram arrived. With shaking hands she opened it..
"Home in four weeks, I promise."
Both Sylvie and Archie's mother were so excited. They were full of plans, Sylvie was planning a surprise for their first anniversary in just over four weeks time. She would meet Archie carrying the bouquet which had been carefully stored away from light and dust.
Then another telegram arrived.. just a few days after the first.
"We regret to inform you..." She read no further, collapsed on the ground.
A promise is a promise.. she met Archie's coffin at the station, carrying her bouquet. It was their first wedding anniversary, and Archie was home.
©Crissouli 24 April 2018