1 Sep 2010

"The Flight Jacket."

This is something new that I wrote. I'll share it with the Internet ether for your viewing pleasure:

She's wearing his flight jacket - and he's nearly as proud of that item of clothing as he is of her. It's standard issue in the RAF; brown leather and sheepskin to keep them warm out on the airfield or up in the planes. It's about as cold today as it has been on base, but he's more than happy to give it to her. His Marilyn, his best girl. He'll marry her once this damned war is over and she'll make him the happiest man in the new England they are all fighting for.
They're walking around Holland Park in the January drizzle and she's turning every head. London is gray and gritty, but Marilyn has got on her red lipstick and her best stockings and she's curled her beautiful black hair into ringlets. They make a handsome couple; the beautiful young WVS Volunteer and the boy in blue, the hero of the skies. They've already had a woman approach them and tell him that her son is in the RAF too, that she wishes him every will in the world. An old man on a bench has called "good luck, lad! We're all behind you m'boy!"
It's true, everyone is behind him, and when he leaves that afternoon the station is full of people clapping him on the back and telling him he's a brave young man. He kisses her through the train window and he ends up with her tears on his face as they are pulled apart by the train and by duty and another countries greed and ambition.
*
He died, of course.
He became one of the few to who the many owed so much. Marilyn got a standard issue letter telling her that Reginald Hythe had been gunned down somewhere near his base by a German plane. She wondered who Reginald was - her fiance had been called Reggie. She had a number of his posses ions forwarded to her. He'd been mad for Sherlock Holmes and she got back some well-thumbed Conan Doyle paperbacks. Inside A Study In Scarlet there was a photograph of her from the day of the engagement. His St. Christopher went to his sister badly grieving and heavily pregnant with a husband in the navy. Marilyn got his flight jacket back too. For some unknown reason he hadn't had it on when he'd gone up in the spitfire for the last time - had the alarm gone off too suddenly for him to do the buckles up? Or were his hands shaking too badly?

It smelled of cigarettes and cold weather and engine oil. Marilyn wrapped herself up in it and found a rollie in the left pocket with a playing card - the five of diamonds. In the inside pocket was her last letter to him. She told him how much she loved him and how she had heard on good authority Mr. Churchill had struck a deal with the Germans to end the attacks on British skies.
Bloody Hitler, Marilyn sobbed. Bloody, bloody war.

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