Roald Dahl Fans.com

“Only This”

Sections: Information | Plot Description 


Information

  • First published:
    • September 1944 issue of Ladies Home Journal

Plot Description

Spoiler warning! In an English cottage, an old woman lies sleeping in the moonlight of her open window. On her dressing table is a picture of her son in his Royal Air Force uniform. Suddenly there is a great throbbing noise overhead and she wakes. It is the bombers going off to battle. She stands by the window and prays that God will keep her son safe. He is her only child, and she knows that “there was nothing else to live for except this”. She sits and begins to think of him, wishing she could see him and talk to him. She closes her eyes and begins to see the aircraft, and in her mind she is standing there next to him in the cockpit. He smiles at her and she is happy. As the plane nears the battlefield, she can see searchlights and anti-aircraft fire through the windshield. She watches as the plane is hit and an engine catches fire. She is worried, but he smiles at her and continues flying. There is an explosion and the cabin fills with smoke. She watches in fear as her son fights to control the plane while the crew bail out. She panics and tries to drag him from his seat, but he’s unconscious and she can’t undo the many buckles holding him down. Knowing that survival is now impossible, she throws herself on top him and cries. The plane spirals downwards and crashes. Back in the English cottage, the woman leans back against her chair with her eyes closed, clutching the blankets around her. A gentle rumble announces that the surviving bombers are flying home to the British airfields. But the old woman never moves. “She had been dead for some time.”