My Thoughts

Lights in the sky

I woke with this story in my head and had to write it.


Uncle Ralph finished getting ready in the front room of the little stone cottage. Elizabeth watched. She knew the preparations as well as he as he completed his evening ritual. The gas mask, helmet, water bottle and sandwich stuffed into a pocket. Finally, he hobbled to the door.

“Go to bed, Lizzy. I’ll be back in the morning.”

Elizabeth nodded and flashed her brilliant smile, displaying her perfect, pearl-white teeth. She was thirteen, an age when her appearance was becoming important to her. She lived with Uncle Ralph now and had since the bomb destroyed her home and killed her mother. She had snuck out to watch the battling lights in the sky. Her father was at the war. He was somewhere in England at an RAF base. He was a mechanic. She knew he kept the planes flying each night.

Uncle Ralph would have gone to war too but for his gammy leg. He had fallen out of a tree as a child and the leg had never repaired properly. Now he helped in the Home Guard.

The door shut behind her uncle with a click, as if any louder noise would attract the Germans. Elizabeth went to collect her journal from its place hidden beneath her bed. Then, with pencil in hand, followed her uncle into the approaching darkness. This was her nightly routine, a run down the lane, across open fields and up the small hill. From here she could see London in the distance.

Elizabeth waited, her pencil and notebook ready.

Memories of two weeks ago came to mind, just as they did every night since. She had seen Princess Elizabeth driving a lorry the narrow roads of the village. Her mother had once told her that she had been named after the Princess. A tear came to her eye at the memory of her mother, but she brushed it aside angrily. How could she cry over her mother when so many people were dying? At that moment the first lights appeared over darkened London, a searchlight, then another.

She began to write, recording what she saw and felt as the battle in the skies began. Someday someone would want to read her stories and remember. They would vow never to do it again, but they would. Her pencil scratched across the paper.

In the distance the beams of light searched for a target, and once found, the flashes of artillery bursts puffed. Occasionally a larger flash signaled the destruction of a bomber, and a flaming star would fall to earth.

Next, the fighter would arrive. Lines of tracer stitched their path across the sky as British and German planes wove patterns around each other. All she wanted now was to record what she saw. Her thoughts and feelings on the decimation of human life would follow later.

She spotted a red star that quickly grew larger. She could hear the roar above the noise of the battle. Out of the darkness, the unmistakable shape of the plane emerged, a bomber with an engine on fire. It flew low to the ground and she imagined the pilot, maybe wounded, fighting to control his plane for a crash landing. It flew overhead, and as it did it banked. The German insignia was clear. The remaining engine spluttered and stopped and it plummeted nose first into the ground.

Uncle Ralph scurried up the hill with two other men. The plane had exploded on impact starting a number of small grassfires. It was probably the unused bombs that were meant for London. They began beating out the fires with branches and jackets when he saw it, the body.


It was badly burned but it was clear a piece of the propellor had broken free and cut her almost in two. All he could see was the row of pearly-white teeth. In her hand was the scorched remains of a notebook cover.

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