He came back to Cornwall.
He came back from the war with a bloody arm, a bandaged leg and a few scars on his face. He came back from the war to find his dear family in their little village. He came back from the war, but he wasn’t expecting this.
The year was 1919. After spending a few more months in London, he finally decided to travel back to his hometown. He needed to feel warmth again, he needed to feel love and happiness, and his lovely little Cornwall was just the place for that.
Lugging his rucksack on his back, he walked into St Mawes, not knowing what to expect when he knocked on the door of his house. Maybe shouts of his name or crying or laughing and hugging. He walked through the streets filled with desolate but running shops, and many grey houses. They were tilted and uneven, like buildings from a fairy tale.
He walked further into the village, people eyeing him strangely as they passed him. Then he found it. Right in front of him was his childhood home, still standing as it had been 27 years ago.
Shuffling nervously up to the wooden door, he gave it a slow tap, creating a deep, hollow sound. There was a sudden scrambling inside, and then the lock clicked. The door creaked open, and the face of a middle-aged woman, wet with tears, met him. It was his mother, and as he looked over her shoulder, he spotted his father, sister and brother.
Hastily, his mother wiped her tears away. “Oh, hello,” she sniffled, “Um, who are you?”
He was puzzled. Why wouldn’t his own mother remember him? “It’s me, Mum. Your son!”
“Son?” she repeated, “My dear boy, you must be mistaken!”
“Who is it?” his father coughed.
“It’s a young man. He’s come back from the war. He says he’s our son!”
“Son? Poor thing, you can’t be! It’s all that war business getting to your head! Old Matthew, he…he, um, he died.”
Surely this was a dream, or some kind of practical joke! How would his own family forget him, and, what’s more, say that he was deceased? He simply couldn’t believe it.
“But…” he whispered, “But I’m Matthew!”
“Matthew was killed at the start of the war by a bomb in London.” his mother said firmly but not unkindly. “Do come in though, dear. You must be worn out!”
Silently, he stepped through the doorway, shutting the door behind him. “Thank you.” he murmured.
“This is Sarah and John.” his mother said, gesturing to his sullen-faced brother and sister. He did not respond.
Later on, they all sat down at the table in the kitchen, which was very familiar to Matthew. They had a dinner of corned beef and morsels of bread, and then they all retired to their bedrooms.
He had some trouble dozing off, and it seemed like a few seconds when he woke up again, realising that something was shaking his side. He widened his eyes and turned his head, only to find his ginger cat, Oliver. It was early dawn, and it would need feeding. He got up and walked into the kitchen, the floor making the occasional creak. Then he remembered. Oliver had died before the war.
He dropped the bowl he was holding onto the floor. It made a loud crash, sure to wake someone up. He turned around. The cat was not there. Frantically, he ran up the hallway to the other bedrooms, not finding anyone. He ran outside, meeting with cold, icy air biting into his cheeks. The village looked deserted. Then he saw something coming up the street. Oliver. He was dazed, confused, not understanding what was happening. He turned back to return to the house, only to be pushed to the floor by another man. It was his father, and he was armed with a gun.
“Heil Hitler.” he whispered. The family followed: “Heil Hitler!”
Then the father pulled the trigger, and then it was the end. If only he hadn’t felt the urge to come back home. If only he was ordered to stay in London. But he still arrived. He came back to Cornwall.