Heinkel He 111 bomber over London

by Sophie van Llewyn

London, 1941

Mother’s pinkie draws away from the teacup, reaching towards our glorious past. The footmen have been drafted, the maids soldier on in factories, but the afternoon tea is holy in our house.

A thud, and the ceiling snows plaster flakes on our Persian carpet.

Bones rattling
in a trench at Sedan.
My brothers: faces in a locket.

I slam my teacup, jump towards the trembling windows. Beyond the only wall still standing from the Westons’ townhouse blooms a cloud of black dust. Alarms screech. Mother stares at the tea as it bleeds onto the chiffon table cover.

‘Camilla, this is why we have saucers. We don’t have to behave like animals.’

Another thud. Our porcelain clatters, and so do our teeth.

Mother leaps up, shrieks, ‘The basement!’

I scour the skies for great winged beasts, buzzing above our heads. If they are fire-spitting predators, then what does that make us, seeking the deepest burrows in the Earth’s womb?

From the ashes, new creatures will rise,
consuming all our enemies.
My brothers: fearless.

Sophie van Llewyn lives in Germany. She worships, and writes historical fiction. One of her historical flashes won 2nd place in the Reflex Fiction Competition in Autumn 2017. She also wrote a historical novella-in-flash, Bottled Goods.  You can find out more at

Image of Heinkel 111 aircraft over London from the Collection Database of the Australian War Memorial under the ID Number C219738.