Cruelty Dressed Up As Kindness
Not many opportunities to race, on the Front. The mud, the lack of a car. Not much enthusiasm either. But that’s what they wanted to talk about, racing. Brooklands, the championship decider. Their eyes, I remember their eyes. Alive, there, living that moment when the flag dropped.
‘Lieutenant, we’ll let you know. Hope you get another chance.’ General Mathers smiled.
It took me a moment to understand he was talking about racing, not the transfer. Another chance. Didn’t he realise this transfer, joining the Royal Flying Corps, was that other chance. A reinvention?
Odd, isn’t it, how the mundanity of one life is the stuff of dreams for another. Racing was fine if you could be competitive but those last two years were gnawingly frustrating.
‘Why do you want to fly?’
It felt like a trick. To get away, to breathe, to be on my own. I suppose that’s why they asked about the British Championship, the Monte Carlo Endurance. To be in that car, at that moment. To rely only on myself and my machine.
This bloody war is dehumanising but you know what? It’s the inability to be alone that we’ve lost. Crammed together, holding on to whatever space we can. We can no longer be ourselves. We are the machine now.
‘To do my bit, sir. To use the skills I have, for the benefit of the Country.’
Did they realise it was my desertion they’d been asked to decide? My way out.
Mathers turned back, just then. ‘Brave, you know.’
‘Flying. Out here. But you chaps. Do you understand the risk?’
I watched him go, leaning into the track’s banking, imagining a reality that didn’t exist. Would he give me what I craved or was he cruel enough to save me from myself?’
This week’s microcosms prompts are Racing driver, WW1 France, Memoir