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[personal profile] fiery_ring
August 1949

The war is over.

It was still a few weeks before all the men returned. According to Will's letters, there was a lot of cleanup to do in Europe, and liberating the channel islands.

When he finally came home, for good, it was a very emotional moment all around. She held him in her arms, and kissed him, and thanked him for not getting himself killed in the years he'd been away.

Daisy's husband reappeared the next day, meeting his young daughter Joanna for the first time. Dolly and Victoria, the other mothers of war babies, stuck together, with the sober reminder that their husbands would not be coming back.

Rita, the sixteen-year-old evacuee, refused to leave with her chimpanzee when her parents turned up. Carlotta stepped into that one and said that since she wasn't a minor, she was welcome to stay on contract.

You might think that the hard part was over, Carlotta mused, after Will had been home a couple of days. But it seemed that things were not going to be that simple.

For one thing, Molly, their ten month old daughter (one month being in Gotland, she was generally taken as a rather advanced nine month old), had entered a period of stranger anxiety, and would start to cry whenever Will picked her up. She would babble 'Matta' at Carlotta, but wouldn't acknowledge Will at all, and Carlotta could see how much that upset him.

Then there was the smoking. Now, Carlotta has to admit to having the occasionally cigarette, out of view of Molly, because everyone does. But since coming back from the war, Will seems to be on about twenty a day, which makes everything smell. By day two, she had to bar him from doing it in the caravan, because Molly didn't like it.

"When the rationing finishes, twenty a day is going to cost a fortune." she says gently to him, over lunch.

"But they're good for you." Will says, lighting up again. "They clear out the lungs, everyone knows that."

"Well please don't do it near Molly, it sets her off screaming." Carlotta says. "I go to the edge of the camp if I'm going to have one."

For Will, a further hard part is finding that everyone in the circus answers to Carlotta as Ringmaster. It took Carlotta a few days to realise that he had expected to take over when he got back, and she had to take him aside again and gently explain that that isn't how it works.

"You can't just turn up and become Ringmaster because you're married to me." she says. "It doesn't work like that. A Ringmaster either starts a circus or works their way up, and you have to have years and years of circus experience. You've only been on tour with us for six months."

"Yes, but I look ridiculous." Will says. "Husbands don't take orders from their wives; I ought to be taking the lead and you ought to be looking after Molly."

"I do look after Molly." Carlotta says, indignantly.

"You put her in the creche half the day." Will says. "She ought to be getting more one to one parent time."

"Well I was raised by a community and it didn't do me any harm!" Carlotta says. "If anything, your circus work is usually done by half ten, and mine lasts all day, so rather than spending the rest of the day smoking you could have individual time with her."

She thought it was a relatively reasonable solution. But Will looks angry and hurt, gets up, and storms off to the pub.
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Carlotta Francis (nee Brown)

February 2014

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