Gunfire and rushing wind scream through the sky, burning my ears. The enemy plane is just a few metres away. If I can get this shot, we win the battle, I aim, shoot, and hit my target. But not before he hits his. The German plane explodes into a fiery cloud of nothingness. The plane beside me, the one belonging to my best friend and adopted brother Tommy, explodes as well. A hoarse scream struggles to escape my dry throat. Not Tommy. No, he can’t be hit. Not Tommy. The remains of his flying vehicle fall to the ground, and I zoom after him. I jump out of the plane before it even lands, and sprint over to the wreck. My hands dig through metal sheets and propellers, trying to see some glimpse of my brother. He’s not dead. He’s not. He can’t be. I find the body. I struggle to pull him away from the machine. I lie him down on the ground, and cold, dead, eyes stare back at me. Then they blink.
The sound of gunfire and exploding planes fades away. All that I can hear is the rasping laughter of my brother. I roll onto my back, next to him, and glance up at the cloud littered sky. We lay there, laughing as everything disappears. There are no planes flying above us, no wreckages in sight. We shrink from full grown soldiers into little boys once more.
“Lunch time boys!” Mother’s voice cuts across the laughter. As we stand up, eager to eat, she speaks again, “You boys weren’t playing that silly war game again, were you?”
“It’s fun ma!” Tommy explains, as we ramble up to the house.
“It’s no good running around and pretending to die. The war is real. Not some silly game.”
“Ok Mother, we won’t play it again,” I say. Mother’s not my real Mama, you see. My real Mama is all the way over in Austria. I used to be in Austria too, until the British government came and took me to Britain. They took me on a thing called the Kindertransport, and they said that Britain was the safest place for me.
We eat lunch and then go to play outside again.
It’s bedtime now, and I can hear the soft, puffing snores escaping Tommy’s mouth, like a train. I can’t sleep, though. It always takes me hours to finally drift off. I hate bedtime. I have nothing to do while lying in bed, so the memories wander their way to the front of my mind.
From the comfort of my bed, I can see myself and my real family, huddled in the basement of our house in Austria. I can hear the deafening explosion of bombs, just a few streets away. The smell of gunpowder burns my nostrils and sucks water from my eyes.
I take a deep breath and I’m transported. I can hear my tortured screams “Mama! Papa!” I can feel the man ripping me from my parent’s embrace. I see the last glimpse I ever had of their faces. They told me they would join me in Britain in a week. It’s been years since I’ve seen them.
I’m transported once more, to a carriage in a train. “Clutter Clutter Clutter.” The wheels groan against the track. My stomach is a pit of mixed emotions. I’m so happy to be finally leaving the bomb torn Austria. Apparently, this new country will be safe from the war. But I’m worried about starting life again in a completely new country, Britain.
My mind transports me back into my bed. The memories have finished playing. At least for tonight. I know they’ll be back again tomorrow night. They never fail to come back to haunt me.
It’s the next morning, and I’m sitting at the table, eating oatmeal with Mother, Father and Tommy.
“Boys, we have to tell you something,” Father grasps mother’s hand, and looks solemnly at Tommy and I.
“What is it?” Tommy asks.
Father takes a deep breath, “The government has told us that they will give us the money to send you two to Australia,” the sentence floods out of his mouth like a dam wall that’s been broken.
“And?” Tommy asks.
“And we accepted,” Mother replies.
I can’t believe it. Just as I’m starting to get used to Britain, I have to move again. I don’t really know much about this war that’s going on, but it seems to be like a destructive inkblot. Starting out in Germany, and spreading it’s deathly black ink to Austria. But the inkblot of death won’t stop there, it is growing bigger, it’s coming to Britain.
“But Mama and Papa won’t be able to find me in this new country!” I whimper.
“Son, it’s been years. I don’t think your Mama and Papa are coming,” Father shoots me with his words.
I bow my head in despair. I think I’ve always known. Jews weren’t allowed in Austria. My parents were Jews. Father voicing it just made it a whole lot more real.
“Why are we going to Australia? We could go to America instead! ” Tommy asks. I think he’s trying to break the tension.
“Australia is very far away. It is unlikely that the war will reach you there,” Mother answers.
“When do we leave?” Tommy asks.
I’m sitting on a chair on the deck, watching Tommy play cricket with some other boys. Tommy hits a six. The boys cheer. I was just starting to settle in with my new family. The ball lands in the ocean. The boys groan. My life was torn away from me, not once, but twice. Tommy pulls a bread roll that he was saving for later out of his pocket, and they use it as a cricket ball. It doesn’t work well, but it’ll do. My lot in life isn’t fair, but there’s nothing I can do about it. I’ll just have to make do with what I’ve got.
Just wondering if we are allowed to submit a story that has already been published in something else? I wrote this story, but a longer version of it has already been published in a magazine, so I just wanted to check that is allowed?