Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

Student Scribes: “Night Witches”

They call me a night witch, but I am not one.

I haunt their dreams as I do the raven black sky, lighting it up in a glaze of red and yellow. I don’t conjure magic. I grab the throttle of my plane and float through the air, the tail my broom and gun my magic.

I let my navigator get us to our location. Adrenaline pounds through my body, trepidation that we could be shot down. Bullets could pierce through the canvas of our planes and into our oversized uniforms. We fly so low we don’t carry parachutes but no amount of armor can save us if we’re captured.

The other two planes go off to divert the attention of our enemies. We’re on our sixth mission of the night, our plane refilled with another set of bombs. My navigator tells me we’re close, so I pull our small plane down, diving even closer than we already were to the encampment while cutting our engine. We hiss through the air, deadly quiet so our enemies realize too late that their nightmares have arose. I guess we are night witches.

They aren’t ever ready for us. War sings a song across my heart, interweaving and grasping at it until it turned black. The zone. To win and return. Re-arm and repeat.

We’re so close that I can see a man light a match for his cigarette. They still shoot at us, or try to. Some say we’re given treatments so we have night vision. But it’s a ridiculous idea. Instead of magic, we’re a group of gutsy determined girls.

If they shoot down a night witch plane. they are awarded an Iron Medal.

If we don’t win, then death will come. It’ll take me as I crash into earth or as a glorified prize in the face of my enemies. I’ll be forgotten in history while they get to tell my story. History is a fable as Bonaparte said, and mine wouldn’t tell the tale of a girl in the sky. It’d tell of a monster that needed shut down, instead of a girl fighting for her country.

The other two planes meet us as we start our flight home.

Kristian Beverly is a senior English major at Penn State Harrisburg.

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