“The Few”

While reviewing stories that I had previously sold, I stumbled onto this one. It is flash fiction, or a micros-story. I’ve written a few stories this short, and they are a challenge to an author. To create character, conflict, action, and back story that can be described in less than five hundred words, means that no fat is allowed.

Worse still, the story is sent during WWII, in London.

The Blitz

The Blitz (from German, “lightning”) was the period of sustained strategic bombing of the United Kingdom by Nazi Germany. Starting on 7 September 1940, the Luftwaffe bombed London for 57 consecutive nights. More than one million London houses were destroyed or damaged, and more than 40,000 civilians were killed.

All that stood between the British cities and the German bombers were the pilots of the RAF fighter command. We are talking about less than three thousand men. During and after the blitz, a pilot couldn’t buy his own drink in London or much of England. The grateful public lauded them, and would treat them to a drink or a meal. Most of the pilots were young, with little expectation of living long. About 20% died in the conflict.

Winston Churchill said of them: “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.”

What isn’t as well known is that the RAF fliers included men from other countries, and Poland led the pack. No. 303, Polish Fighter Squadron, was one of 16 Polish squadrons in the Royal Air Force (RAF) during the Second World War. It was the highest scoring RAF squadron of the Battle of Britain.

So now that I have given you the setting,  here is the story:

The Phone Rang

When the telephone finally rang, Rosalie sobbed with relief. He was alive. He had called. She ran down the stairs to answer it, to tell Phillip all the promises she had made while waiting.

When Rosalie first met Phillip, he dazzled her with his smile and his pilot’s wings. After the battle of Britain any pilot in England had priority in seating anywhere, complimentary drinks and the best of everything. And the girls she’d had to fight off to keep him.

That he was handsome, with his blonde hair and high cheekbones made it worse. That he was hesitant in his English, which made him seem shy, added to the problem. She loved him with all her nineteen-year-old soul.

Her parents disapproved. She was too young to wed. The company she was keeping was too fast. Besides, after the war, he would just be another out of work hero.

“Medals don’t buy meals,” her father liked to say. “I saw that in the twenties. Now he’s a hero but once the war is over he’ll just be an out of work fly boy and a Polish one at that.”

The phone sounded its second ring.

“Damn these slippers,” Rosalie thought, kicking them off. “I’ll tell him I love him. I’ll marry him. We can live wherever he wants. I won’t try to change him. I won’t tell him not to fly.”

After the Battle of Britain, Phillip found a new form of flying that captured his soul. He began to fly Lysanders into France, landing in fields and taking off in four hundred yards. He delivered agents, carried supplies and picked up SOE agents. He flew at night in an unarmed plane, skipping over the hills or hiding in the clouds from German Messerschmitts.

It froze her heart with terror but he laughed at her fears, folded her into his arms and kissed her until she forgot she was a lady and molded herself to his body.

Would those planes take him away from her forever? She feared them more than other women. In her desperate battle to hold him close, she said the wrong things and lost him. They had fought yesterday, before his flight and he had stormed out of the house, not saying goodbye, not kissing her at all.

Then nothing. No calls. When she tried to call, national security silenced any response. Had he returned? Was he dead? If not, why hadn’t he called? Did he know what she was going through?

The phone had just finished its third ring when she picked up the receiver and said, “Phillip, I was wrong. Forgive me. I love you so much.”

The line was silent. No response. Was it dead?

“Hello?” she asked.

“I’m so sorry. I seem to have dialed the wrong phone number,” the stranger’s voice said.

I hope you liked it.

To see some of my short stories go to www.edwardmcdermott.net