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Spitfire

17th July 2018
(Short Story)

Spitfire in Flight

Sometimes, I wander out just to look at her. I’ll never stop loving those curves. She’s just there on the grass, so serene. She’s so sodding magnificent I feel unworthy. Who am I to lay my hands on her? My love for her knows no bounds. She keeps me alive and, in return, I afford her all the respect I can muster. I know what she likes. I know her like no other and I’m sure she knows me. I know when I’ve asked too much of her. She can be very vocal. On those occasions, I’m racked with guilt, but I’m sure she understands. I try not to be reckless, but sometimes necessity leads me to it. It’s for the greater good. It’s for England.

We’re are all the strangest of people. If it wasn’t for this thing we would never have met. We’re strangers who soon became brothers. We share the same fear, a fear we never discuss. But it’s there. It’s always there. It’s not there in our words, it’s absent in our swagger, but it’s there. You see if we speak of it, it becomes real. It’s already far too real. So, swaddled in sheepskin, we smoke, we drink tea and we vaccinate ourselves with bravado. We are the invincibles. But there is nothing as safe as an empty chair. They have no fights left to lose.

When we talk, we talk of our successes. We share our cleverness and the flukes and tricks that brought us home. We never discuss the failures of the fallen. Failure stalks us and it travels at hundreds of miles an hour. It’s the fastest thing on earth. But we’ve mastered it. Every time we make it back is spit in the eye of failure. And those who don’t make it back are just unlucky. Luck is a currency we all feel we have. The enemy don’t have it. They’re soulless machines. They don’t have families, they don’t have children. There are no girls waiting for them to return. They have no ruby red lipstick to kiss.

You can't muster enough bravado to divert you from that feeling you get when the shout goes out. Every time, you catch that look in two or three of your comrades’ eyes.  It’s always the same. We're the most stoic of men, but our eyes always betray us. They betray us on every shout. It’s unspoken, but it’s never untold. There’s a lot we don't talk about. I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking, but the least said the fewer the chances of it being real. This is how we live. This is how we don’t die.

When the bell is rattled, we run to our destiny. We always run. I’ve walked the same distance. It doesn't take much longer, ten seconds more. What can you do ten seconds? It doesn't matter. What difference does it make to live ten seconds longer? What difference is ten seconds in the chaos of battle? So, we run.

We run, the chocks are dragged away and we fly. There is no better sound than that engine. My father told me Caruso could sing, but I can’t imagine a finer sound than that Merlin engine. That’s a discussion I hope to have with him some day.

There can’t be no better feeling than talking to the air. Every time the wheels leave the grass I hope I will own that feeling at least once more. But it gets better. We soar. We are one. I can’t describe how it feels. If you head to the coast and watch the gulls fly you might understand. Maybe. I wish that was the all of it. The flying is wonderful. But we are hunters. At the tip of each wing is a reminder of that. Sometimes we return home having seen nothing but sky. There can’t be a stranger feeling. It’s a perverse cocktail of relief and disappointment. Survival is less than half of my vocation.

There are other times. There are times when we happen upon our prey. Fear is exhilarating. Your only friend is your instinct and the reactions instilled in you during training. There are three of us up there and we know what to do. This is not new to any of us. We know how to kill. I’ve killed men on five occasions. I’ve killed more than five men. They’re not men. They don’t think like me. They didn't feel my fear. They had no parents, they had no children. They started this war. I’m not to blame.

We’re going to win this war. I’m certain of that. I may not live to see it, but it will be. I want to live. I want to lie on a lawn in an English summertime with a beautiful girl. I want to smell her perfume as it mingles with the scent of mown grass. I want the excitement of the prospect that she may end up in my arms.  I want to feel her skin through the cotton of her dress and the awkwardness of her underwear. I want to make love. I’m not scared of dying. I don’t want to die, but I live with death each day. I’m aware of it as a man could be, but I can’t look it in the face. But if death comes, I’ve seen enough to recognise it. Myself and death are fast becoming friends.


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Mel Small
Mel Small
(United Kingdom)

The founder of Indipenned and the writer of some books. I also write under the pen name of Michael RN Jones. Dislikes turnip and beetroot (the Devil's fruit).


www.melsmall.com
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