December 22, 1943
Betty Roberts walked down the decorated hallway of WENN with a plate of cookies and a wide smile. She pushed through the doors of the greenroom and greeted her friend as she set the platter down. "Good morning, Gertie," she said cheerfully.
"It certainly seems to be," Gertrude Reece said dryly. "Did you hear that Jeff and Hilary have apparently rekindled whatever they used to have? They're making the viewers nauseous again on Bedside Manor."
"Are they really?" Betty asked as she played with the poinsettias on the table. "I was beginning to wonder about them. Hilary had said spring of '43 a few years back, and they're behind schedule. That's not like her."
"Well, her marriage put a wrinkle in those plans," Gertie reminded her.
"True," Betty nodded. "Well, I'm very happy for them. It's Christmas, a time for love and romance and happiness."
"Speaking of, you're awfully happy for someone whose fiancee is overseas, Betty. So spill," she said, leaning forward eagerly. "Did you get a letter from Scott?"
Betty stopped fussing with the decorations and turned to the older woman. "Oh, Gertie, did I ever. You won't believe what he's getting me for Christmas!" She paused. "Well, what he's trying to get me for Christmas. He warned me that it's a long shot, but it might just be possible."
"Well?" Gertie asked, unable to contain her anticipation. "What is he getting you?"
Betty sat down on the couch next to Gertie, beaming. "A phone call!"
Gertie's mouth dropped open. "From him?" Betty nodded excitedly. "Oh, honey, how is he going to manage that? That's got to be impossible."
"Well, I know. But you know Scott. He said he's going to try and call in some favors and old debts. Well, a lot of them. So it could happen, right?" She looked at Gertie pleadingly.
"Of course it could, honey," Gertie said heartily, patting her knee. "It is the time of miracles, after all."
"Yes, it is," Betty smiled, playing with her engagement ring. They had pledged their troth via airmail, so Scott had written to his Aunt Agatha, asking her to send Betty his mother's engagement ring, since he couldn't purchase one. Agatha had complied, taking it to the station personally several months earlier. "He's not sure when he'll be able to get through, but he said it wouldn't be before Christmas Eve or after the 26th. So, I'm going home on the 27th this year, and celebrate Christmas with my family then. My parents understood," she said with another smile.
"So now all you have to do is wait?" Gertie asked sympathetically.
"Yes, and I think that's going to be the worst of all," Betty said ruefully. Suddenly, she gave a shiver and an odd look crossed her face.
"Betty, are you all right?" her friend asked, concerned. "You look like you've seen a ghost!"
Betty shook her head, as if to clear it. "No, no, I'm fine. I just had that odd feeling like someone was walking over my grave, you know?" Gertie nodded in understanding and Betty stood. "Time for me to get back to the scripts now. I'll see you later."
"Bye, dear," Gertie called after her.
As Betty walked down the hall to her office, she could swear there was someone watching her. She turned back, but no one was there. She shook her head with a laugh. "I guess this waiting is just driving you batty, Miss Roberts," she said to herself. "Only a few more days, though. Then it'll be over."~*~
December 24, 1943
Betty was sitting at her typewriter in the writer's room, under the pretense of doing actual work. She had been sitting there since she had arrived at the station four hours earlier, at eight that morning. Gertie had promised to ring her immediately if Scott called, neither knowing how long a connection could even last from Europe. She looked up when she heard the door being pushed open, hoping for Gertie, but saw Mackie Bloom.
"Sorry, Bett, nothing yet," he told her, sympathetically. "I was just heading to the Buttery. Want me to bring anything back for you?"
"Thanks, Mackie, but I'm fine," Betty said, smiling at him.
"If you change your mind, just give a call, all right?" At her nod, he left the writer's room, bumping into Eugenia Foley as he closed the door.
"How is she holding up?" the organist asked.
"About as well as can be expected, I guess. These past few days have seemed like months, and the next three are going to be awful," he sighed, as they walked down the hallway towards reception, where Mr. Foley was waiting for him and Eugenia.
The switchboard rang and Gertie slammed the plug in. "WENN," she said in a rush. Mackie held his breath as Eugenia reached for her husband's hand. "No, sorry, you have the wrong number. Good-bye."
The group let out a collective sigh. "I guess the waiting is getting to all of us," Gertie sighed.
"She misses him so much," Eugenia said sadly. "Two years is a long time, and we don't know when he's going to be able to come home. Oh, I wish this war was over."
Mr. Foley nodded solemnly in agreement.
Eugenia glanced at the clock. "Oh, dear, we have to hurry. We have to be back on the air soon." The Foleys walked out as a young man in a uniform walked in and up to Gertie's desk.
"Hello, ma'am. I have a telegram for Miss Elizabeth Roberts. Is she here?"
"Well, she's in her office right now. Can I sign for it?" she asked him, puzzled as to what the telegram could be.
"No, I need to give this to her in person," he told her.
Gertie shrugged. "All right then." She turned to the switchboard, but thought better of it. "No, I can't ring her now. Mackie?"
"I'll go get her," he volunteered, turning back down the hallway. Arriving at the writer's room, he tapped the door. "Betty?" She looked up, hopeful. "No, sorry, sweetheart. There is a man here with a telegram for you, though. Says he needs to give it to you in person."
"That's odd," she said, furrowing her brows. "I can't image who would be sending me a telegram here." She stood and followed him out the door.
"Elizabeth Roberts?" the young man asked her when she reached the reception area.
"Yes, that's me," she told him.
"Sign here, please," he said, handing her a clipboard. She did, and he handed her the telegram. "Merry Christmas, ma'am, and I'm very sorry."
He left as Betty called after him, "Sorry for what?" She shook her head and looked down at the slip of paper in her hand, eyes widening as she saw the address. "Oh, no," she whispered. With shaking hands, Betty opened the paper and read the short typed message inside. "Oh, please no," she moaned.
Mackie and Gertie rushed towards her as she dropped to her knees, unable to stand any longer. She stared ahead, silently in shock, as the paper fluttered down out of her hands. Mackie helped her sit on a chair as Gertie grabbed at the paper.
"Oh!" Gertie gasped, horrified. She met Mackie's frantic eyes. "It's Scott. He was killed."
At these words, Betty started to sob. She clutched at Mackie's shirt. "No, not Scott," she sobbed. "No, please, Mackie. He's going to call me! He promised he would! Why hasn't he called yet?"
Mackie just held her, not sure what he should say. She maintained her grip at his shirt, her face buried into his shoulder, until she couldn't cry anymore. As her sobs started to dissipate, he handed her his handkerchief. "I'm going to take you home now, Betty," he told her gently. She nodded slowly, not looking up from the floor. "Good girl. I'm going to get our coats now. I'll be right back, I promise."
He stood and Betty leaned back against the wall, eyes closed. She felt a cool breeze along her face and opened her eyes, but there was nothing there. Then Mackie was standing in front of her, holding her jacket open, and she had to move again. He supported her as they walked out, but she took one last look behind them as the door shut.
Scott Sherwood stood in receiving area, tears streaming down his own face, touching his pale lips where he had just kissed his love good bye. With one last look around the station where he had been so happy, he faded out.
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