FFftPP:My heart soars with the swallows



The sun was just rising as I walked across the runway towards her. She was a beauty, sleek nose, stubby wings, her colours spotless – factory fresh. Conditions were perfect, the air so still, it cradled my breath for an age before it slowly drifted away.

The swallows were back, dashing low over tin huts and props and cockpits, putting my own flying abilities to shame as they snatched an early breakfast.

The copper head of Sammy Newton appeared round the nose of the Spitfire. Such a nice lad – thank goodness he was on my ground crew for final checks. He looked up, his map of freckles shifting as he smiled.

‘Ready, then?’ he said.

I nodded, hardly able to speak, my stomach already doing barrel rolls.

‘Now, remember, Mary,’ he said, ‘no altimeter, no air speed indicator – only the gyro and the compass to stop you from dashing across the Channel and paying Hitler a visit.’ He wiped his hands on a rag. ‘You ready?’

It was as if the swallows had broken into my chest, beating their stiff wings against my ribs, plucking my heart out to soar with them.

‘I’ve waited years …’ I said.

He nodded. ‘Let’s take her up, then.’


Written for Roger Shipp’s Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner. See the prompt, include the sentiment (This week – “I had waited years for this day…”) and scribble a tale.

This story was inspired by this pic if of a training plane used by the Allies towards the end of World War II and beyond. I remembered what I’d learned about WAAFs, especially the brave ladies of the the Royal Air Force’s Air Transpor Auxilliary who had moved planes (often very new and without their full compliment of controls) across the country during the War. They faced a lot of prejudice and whatever their skills, they had to wait longer than their male counterparts before they were allowed to fly bombers like the Lancaster or fighters like the Spitfire – which many fell in love with.

Sixteen of the female pilots died during the course of their duties.

Read more about them here.


44 thoughts on “FFftPP:My heart soars with the swallows

    1. Thanks love. An interesting bit of history, those fiesty gals. Imagine how exciting and scary for women used to just being farmed off in marriages when they reached a certain age. Feminism in action, really 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Absolutely, it was the start of it all really wasn’t it? Once they were of no use anymore they were expected to go back to being housewives and realised they could be more. Which coming from a housewife sounds odd! But you get my drift…

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Absolutely! I understand entirely why the government hoofed the women out of their jobs after the war – you can’t have fighting men coming home to unemployment. But imagine how frustrating it must have been, how undervalued the women must have felt. No wonder their daughters kicked up such a fuss in the 60s and 70s! X

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Haha! Well, things have changed now – we’ve forced ourselves into all levels of work and industry. And we’re still trying to run homes and have kids too. There’s progress for you!

        Liked by 1 person

  1. I am all for women’s emancipation and participation in all aspects of life. Reading this makes me proud with a tinge of sadness – I cant imagine how difficult life was for women then. Thank you for the story and the link, Lynn.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My pleasure, Annie. Such an amazing, frightening but also revolutionary time for women, the war. They had a chance – by default – to do so many things they would have been excluded from before the men left to fight. These ladies must have been tough – amazing, whatever way you look at it 🙂 Thank you for reading

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, bless those swallows! You often see them swooping anywhere with an expanse of open ground and a bit of grass. Thank you for the kind comments – it’s a subject I find fascinating, so I’m glad that came across. Thanks for reading 🙂


    1. Thank you Jane – you’re very kind. Hard to identify your own style, don’t you think? I think I’ve gradually developed now, but I’m not sure what makes it mine, if you get my drift. I liked writing about these ladies – a brave and bolshy bunch 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You definitely have a unique style – you have a brilliant way of catching atmosphere in a few words, and you make the most hideous characters lovable. Why in hell’s name is your novel not published and on the bestsellers list? Your flash fiction is great, your articles are entertaining and original. Are the publishers idiots, or have you got some important detail wrong?
        Has anyone critiqued your book – apart from husband, sister, close friend etc, because they would hear your voice as you were reading, andmit would affect their judgement.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Ah, Jane. I keep saying you should be my publicist and I’m absolutely right! Yes, a few professionals have looked at parts of the book – positive snippets, but nothing definite yet. Just starting my search for an agent – quite intimidating process. Maybe one day. Meanwhile, lovely comments like yours keep me plugging away – thank you so much. Again 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I’m sorry – I missed it at the time. I’ve just read it, and it’s good, but it doeasn’t carry your hallmark, somehow.
        When I submitted my story, one of the other submissions was about a divorced woman with a child. It got a lot of votes although I considered it less than mediocre. I think the votes depend largely on the subject matter – and that vitriolic piece may have appealed to a lot of angry women, but maybe I’m being unfair. It put me off the competition, although I like the site.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I think you’re right, that certain themes gain more votes than others and that doesn’t always reflect the quality of the piece. I have read the odd outstanding story on there, but alot are a bit ‘meh’. As for me, I just don’t think I really fit what they value from an author, and you’re right, after my first rejection (a comic story about old people really misbehaving) I tried to fit into their themes. I liked my published story well enough, but no, probably not quite ‘me’. I’m glad I got published on there, but I won’t be trying again – probably. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      5. No, they’re still lounging on my hard drive. Keep meaning to resubmit all of the rejected stories I’ve written over the years, but finding the right place for tales can be time consuming and there are so many new stories to write 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Very true about the editing. No story ever feels finished as such – there’s always room for improvement. You just have to draw a line at some point and let them go or you’d revise forever 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      7. Haha! Not wrong there. My problem is, the stories I need to revise have all been rejected at least once already. Though saying that, I did have one story that was accepted – and won a prize – after being rejected 3 times. Just shows, perseverance …

        Liked by 1 person

      8. It’s morethan anything a question of knowing what they’re looking for. The publishing world is crazy – for example, children’s fiction the most difficult genre to get published, and yet the bookshop shelves are stacked with dross – in addition to all the great stuff like Where’s Bernard and Rosie’s Walk, and so on..

        Liked by 1 person

      9. There is rubbish out there – in every genre. Some of it sells really well, though. But there is also amazing stuff too. I know picture books are very tricky to het into – seems to be a lot of YA writers, though, which is good news as far as I’m concerned (even though I’m not 100 % YA).

        Liked by 1 person

      10. Well, I’m no where near 100% young! My writing is mainly adult, I think – but my most complete book is YA. I do have a couple of other YA ideas bubbling under, but as far as the future is concerned – am I a YA or adult writer? Not sure

        Liked by 1 person

      11. Haha! Cross gender-cross genre: could be a new thing altogether. Ideally I’d love to write both. Some authors manage it. Better focus on getting any kind of publishing deal first … 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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