“No need to panic.” The disembodied voice of the young girl’s father boomed in the small space. “I’ve got a torch here.” The flashlight’s beam cut through the darkness, a slim ray of comfort against the night’s danger.
“Devvie, I never heard you talk about a sister. Did you ever hear Devvie talk about a sister, Sister?”
“No, I never did. What’s your name again, dearie?”
Ian’s shoulder shook against Marie’s in silent laughter. She poked him in the ribs. “I’m Marie.”
“But you’re an American. Isn’t she an American, Sister?”
“She sounds like an American.”
Marie mentally kicked herself and poked Ian again.
“Yes, she is,” he said. “We, uh, we’re really half-brother and sister. It’s a long story.”
“We’ve got time,” the young girl’s father boomed. He shone the torch in Marie’s eyes. “Seems rather fishy to me.”
“But true, nevertheless.” Marie shaded her eyes against the direct light and favored him with an endearing smile.
He snorted, but moved the beam.
“Marie is an actress,” Ian said. “She’s appearing as Titania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Tudor Theatre in a couple of weeks.”
“Oh, we do love the theatre, don’t we?” said one sister.
“Yes, we do. We most certainly do,” agreed the other.
“Marie also sings. Why don’t you sing us a song, Sis?”
“I don’t think so.” Marie could barely make out Ian’s features in the dim lighting, but she glared at him anyway.
“Please do, miss.” The young girl’s mother spoke for the first time, her voice a tender reed compared to her husband’s obnoxious boom. “A song might be nice.”
Touched by the demure request, Marie relented.
Her solo of Lily Marlene was followed by an upbeat duet of Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy with the young girl. Then the elderly sisters insisted on having a turn. One song after another echoed through the damp cellar in a strange counterpoint to the exploding of bombs, the burst of anti-aircraft guns, and the roar of sirens outside their dismal shelter.
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