It's 1926, and Hannelore Bauer is an English girl of German descent, who must battle through the prejudice and discrimination from the left over tensions of The Great War to fulfill her dream of becoming a dancer and moving to Paris.
This is a story of forbidden love, loss of the things that matter most, holding on to your dreams with a vice-like grip and overcoming everything to dance.


9. 9

I spent the next two weeks trying to devise ways that I could help Gloria, but having little to no money myself, it was almost impossible. Every other day I spent a good twenty minutes searching the streets for Sams to give him a farthing (or two, if I was feeling rich) and my income was still rather meagre, even at The Salad House.

The only option seemed to be to ask Eleanor, who had the most money of anyone I knew, but I just couldn’t ask her. She had apologised profusely for the dance marathon night, and we were building. Getting past our histories was proving slow. Every now and then, Eleanor would squeeze her eyes shut, or turn around sharply as though she thought someone was behind her, and I knew that she was still broken.

Early the next month, Eleanor invited me to come flying with her.


“Yes, flying,” she said. Eleanor was standing on the doorstep, drenched by an unseasonable rain. “Can I come in, please?”

“Uh, sure,” I said, allowing her to brush past me and make her own way up the stairs. I walked up slowly, not fully comprehending what she was talking about. When I finally made it to the landing, I found that Eleanor had sat herself at the dinner table.

“My parents are sleeping,” I whispered. It was late, almost eleven o’clock. I had already danced with Eleanor at the TopMan and I couldn’t understand why she hadn’t spoken to me then.

“No problem. Now, flying. Like in a plane.” Eleanor stretched out her arms so that they were horizontal and swayed, making a quiet humming noise. It was then that I noticed that her eyes were unusually wide, she was having one of her worse moments, so I humoured her.

“Right. Flying. In a plane.” I nodded, “when?”

“Next weekend, perhaps? I met an old friend earlier and he said he could take me on a flight any time I wanted, said I could bring a friend, I want to bring you.”

I realised then that she couldn’t have had many friends, and I felt guilty for pitying her.

“Next Sunday is fine. Maybe you could send me a letter with a time?

Eleanor nodded furiously and clasped her hands, looking left and right, before back at me.

“Would you like to sleep here tonight?” I asked, as she began to shiver, her body tensing and relaxing with shocking speed.

“You would do that for me? I don’t know what it is about that place, my flat I mean, I just-” Eleanor shook her head and stared solidly at the table for a good minute before I grasped that she wasn’t going to finish the sentence. I knew, though, I knew that she just didn’t want to be lonely.

Later, I lay on the dusty hardwood floor of my bedroom, wrapped in the throw from the sofa and barely able to close my eyes, let alone sleep. The floor was cold, and Eleanor’s distressed tossing and turning would startle me awake whenever I managed to slip into the limbo between consciousness and sleep.


Next Sunday, Eleanor arrived at my door again, hair neatly curled and combed, then hidden beneath a leather pilot’s hat that drooped down her ears. Wide rimmed goggles perched atop her head and glinted in the early morning sunlight and a thin brown scarf wrapped twice around her neck. Her shirt and skirt were both plain and practical, the first time I believe I had seen her completely unembellished.

Hurrying down to meet her, I stuffed my breakfast bread in my purse and greeted the morning, my purple skirt billowing in the breeze.  Behind Eleanor, a Hackney Carriage idled, its driver sat rigid at the back, his whip by his side like a fishing pole. A large black horse pawed at the cobbled ground as Eleanor and I squeezed in, pulling the door closed behind us.

We lumbered along for more than two hours, the drab, solid buildings of London gradually giving way to the lush greenery of the Chilterns. Having never left the sturdy safety of the capital, the wide, open expanse of Buckinghamshire felt thrilling and new.

We arrived at an isolated field around noon, with the sun blazing down on our heads. Eleanor had removed her scarf and hat, the heat inflaming her pale skin as she fanned herself with her hand.

“Back in an hour, am I?” the driver asked. His high collar looked as though it was suffocating him, and his drooping nose dripped with perspiration. Eleanor squinted up at him and frowned, before delving her free hand into her purse and pulling out a farthing.

“Yes yes, and buy yourself a cold drink too, would you? You look set to drop in this heat,” she said, flicking the coin up with her thumb. The driver caught it greedily and smiled down at her.

“Much ‘preciated, Miss,” he said, but Eleanor was already walking away, stumbling occasionally in the tufts of grass towards a gentleman leaning against a stationary biplane a ways off. Smiling sadly, the driver gently whipped the black horse and the carriage pulled away, its shining ruby paint peeling away to reveal a coat of arms.

“Beautiful day for it, Frank!” Eleanor shouted as I ran to catch up to her. My perspective was shot by the new landscape, and though it felt as though we were closing the distance to Frank and his biplane, every time I looked up from my tattered shoes it was as if we had barely moved a pace.

“You alright over there?” Frank shouted, his hands thrust deep in his pockets and a playful smirk on his lips. Eleanor slowed to a stop and rested her hands on her hips, scowling at him.

“Fancy driving that thing over here, Frank?” she asked, deep breaths punctuating every word.

That thing is a plane, not a car Ellie, so if you’d like to walk a bit further, that’d be swell.”

Ellie?” I said. I hadn’t know that Eleanor had a nickname.

“Ugh, please don’t call me that,” Eleanor said, starting off again, “he likes to think he’s sort of a brother, which gives him the privilege of talking to me like a child.”

When we finally reached the plane, Eleanor leaned against it, her chest heaving. She turned to Frank and wiped her brow dramatically.

“That was mean,” she said, “there’s no need to have that thing all the way out here.”

“I’ve brought up the camera,” he said, ignoring Eleanor’s complaints, “if you’d like a picture before we go up.” I was thrilled, and had just exclaimed a yes please when Eleanor interjected.

“Absolutely not! Not while I’m like this, I look like a- a dog of some sort!”

Frank laughed and wrapped an arm around her, “what’s she like?” he said, “I mean, dogs are adorable.” Frank winked at me as Eleanor released herself from his grasp and whacked her handbag across his chest.

“You’re such a card, Frank.”

Frank grinned and held out his hand to me, “Apologies, Miss, Ellie has a strange power of distraction over me. I’m Frank, and today I’ll be taking you higher than you’ve ever been before.”

I smiled and took his hand, expecting a shake but receiving a brush of lips.

Eleanor raised her handbag and swiftly rapped him on the back with it. Frank jumped, standing so straight it was as though he was at attention before leaning back and grinning at me.

“It’s not that hard,” I said, ignoring Eleanor’s attention seeking scowl, “to take me higher than I’ve ever been, I mean. The highest I’ve ever been is my bedroom, and that’s only because we live on the second floor.”

Frank laughed again. He had an easy smile, the kind that quivered when you opened your mouth to speak and was open and laughing by the time you’d finished your sentence, joke or not.

“Let’s get you two acquainted, shall we,” he said, strolling around the plane with Eleanor and I at his heels. Eleanor skipped up to his side and wrapped her arm around his, gazing up at him as he named the various parts. I stopped to look at the propeller on the nose of the plane and touch it with the tips of my fingers. The metal was warm, and it turned a little under the pressure.

“I like her,” Frank whispered from the other side of the plane to Eleanor, who was peering into the passenger seat, “she’s nice, ain’t she?”

“Oh yes,” Eleanor said, nodding vaguely, “real nice.”

Once we had gone around the plane more times than I could count  and Frank had told us the name of every part, the history of the biplane and the Wright brothers, his thoughts on the future of the plane and his aspirations as a pilot, I was finally allowed to clamber into the passenger seat. Frank had asked who wanted to go first, and when neither of us answered, he took my hands and hoisted me up into the seat, then jumped in himself.

“Had to choose, Ellie, and Hanna here has nice eyes.”

Though I couldn’t see his face, I could sense him winking down as Eleanor threw him her goggles and pouted, stepping away from the plane.

“Few more steps, these propellers have a mean edge,” Frank called. He then twisted around to buckle me into my seat. “You alright back there?” he asked, with a hint of concern, “flying’s fun, but it’s not for everyone.”

“Don’t worry ‘bout me,” I said, “I’m perfect, excited.”

Frank just smiled as he tightened the last buckle and handed me a pair of flying goggles.

“Might want to tuck that hair into your shirt, Rapunzel,” he said, “wind can do nasty things to locks that pretty.”

As he turned back around I could feel the heat rising in my face. Perhaps my hair was as golden as that thread, after all. A little while was spent staring at his back as he strapped himself in and I tried to get every strand of my hair down my collar, and then the propeller began to slowly spin. I shrieked in delight and looked down at Eleanor, who waved at me from but a few feet away.

“We’re moving!” Frank shouted, and the plane began to roll forward. Eleanor ran so that she was parallel to us until the plane picked up too much speed and she stopped, hands on knees.

“See you!” I shouted, and Eleanor stood up to wave, shouting an indecipherable farewell as Frank and I rose into the sky.

It’s quite difficult to explain the feeling of sheer terror and excitement that comes with flying. The feeling that your stomach has been left on the ground but the rest of you has risen up to play with the angels. The gale on my skin, drying my mouth and rippling my clothes was like God’s breath as he whispered crisp but gentle words.

I looked down towards the quilted fields and the houses shrinking into nothing, and though I felt small, I also felt big, huge, seeing the world from a giant’s perspective. We circled around the valley for a while, and I stared at every tree, each like the needle of a pine, every babbling brook and river as they raced to the sea, flying, springing, fleeting.

“Pretty neat, ain’t it?” Frank shouted.

“More than neat!” I said, leaning forward to speak in his ear as the wind stole away my words, “much more!”

We stayed up there for more than fifteen minutes, until Frank turned around and shouted again, “I fancy we should go back down.”


Frank laughed, “Do you have a taste for adventure, Hanna?” he asked.

“I like to think so, there are so many places I want to go, and things I want to do there.”

“Let’s have some fun,” he said, quiet enough for me to have to lean further forward and strain my ears to hear him.

Suddenly, the plane lurched down. I screamed, no joy this time.

“It’s alright,” Frank shouted, “Hold on tight!”

The plane drove upwards again, cutting the sky to ribbons, then down again, perilously close to the ground. We plunged and veered and soared so erratically that my stomach had the persistent sensation of falling that I sometimes experienced in nightmares. Yet this was no nightmare, it was surreal, dreamlike, but beautiful and thrilling and most of all real. I held on tight and leaned my head back, feeling the odd lock of hair escape from my shirt and fly behind me.

When the plane levelled out and we began our descent back to the field where Eleanor was waiting, I was chilled but happy, and I rested my head on Frank’s chair.

“Enjoy that?” he asked, as we thumped to a bumpy landing.

“Oh yes.”

After Frank had undone the various belts and buckles that held me in place he helped me out of the plane. It was certainly odd, to be back on the firm ground, and I felt strangely heavy as I stretched my legs and walked a few steps. I lifted the goggles from my eyes and rested them on my forehead. As I turned to thank Frank, he started and laughed.

“Oh gosh, what is it?” I asked, “Have I tanned around the goggles?” I pulled at the skin of my cheeks and around my eyes and tried to look at it, frowning.

“A little more temporary than that. You’ve got these circles around your eyes, where the goggles have pushed down. I get it every flight, it’ll be gone in no time.”

Frank lifted his goggles, and he did indeed have comical indents around his eyes, I couldn’t help but laugh at him.”

“Let me take a look at those, they’re a little red,” Frank said, stepping closer. His rough fingers touched the skin around my eyes and I looked up at him.

“Yours are too,” I said. Frank smiled, and the skin around his eyes creased where his laughter lines would later stay.

“You really do have-”

Franklin Sparrow!” Eleanor shouted as she stormed towards us. Her presence alone wrenched us apart like a physical force, and Frank stumbled backwards, looking sheepish.

“You don’t want to be messing around with Frank,” Eleanor said to me, “he’s had more women than you have fingers and toes. Now, I think it’s my turn to fly. Don’t you think, Frank?”

Frank nodded as Eleanor plucked the goggles from my head and jumped into the plane without a hoist and Frank followed suit. A took a few steps back as they began to buckle themselves in and Frank leaned over the side to speak to me.

“When we land we’ll grab my camera and take a photo of you in those goggles, deal?”


The propeller spun, the wheels turned and I ran alongside as Eleanor had until I couldn’t keep up anymore and waved instead.

“You’ll love it!” I shouted, “See you soon!”

The day was warm enough to have dried up the dew so I lay down on the grass, arranging myself so that if a walker were to pass me by I wouldn’t look too wild. I stared up at the clear sky for some minutes, tracking the progress of the bi-plane as it carved through the blue. It wasn’t long until I heard the roll of wheels behind me, which I barely registered in my almost meditative state. It was the feet walking towards my head that made me turn around.

A large man was staring down at me, the metal of his Brunswick star glinting in the light. I shielded my eyes as I sat up and stared at the officer, terror flooding my veins. He held out a hand to help me up and didn’t say a word as I brushed myself of grass and petals.

“Are you one Miss-” the officer opened a small pad of paper, “Hanna Beckham?”

“Beckett,” I lied.

“Beckett,” he mumbled, withdrawing a pencil from his pocket and rewriting my pseudonym.

“Alright Miss Beckett, where might I find Miss Eleanor Wright?” he asked, and my heart thumped so hard I was worried he would be able to see my blouse fidgeting.

“I’m sorry- who?”

“Eleanor Wright.”

“I don’t know who that is,” I said, deciding in a split second that it was better to be safe than sorry.

“I’m sure you do, Miss Beckett. I have a Hackney driver who’s willing to tell me so. So I’ll ask you once more, where can I find her?”

“I’m sorry sir, but I honestly couldn’t tell you. I don’t know a Miss Wright, I know a Miss White, if that’s who you mean, and she’s right up there.” I pointed skyward at the plane sloping so serenely across the horizon.

“White, did you say?”

“Yes sir, um, what’s this about, sir?”

“One moment Miss Beckett, and how do you know Miss, ah, White?”

“She lives with my family and I, she’s ah- an orphan.”

“First name Eleanor?”

“Yes, sir, but I like to call her Ellie, if it’s any help.”

“Not much if I’m being honest, Miss Beckett, I think I’ll wait here with you till that plane comes down, if you don’t mind.”

As if I had a choice in the matter.

“Of course officer, if I could ask again, what’s this about?”

“A murder, Miss Beckett.” The officer stared at me for a long, discomforting while, perhaps trying to glean the truth from my face. I stared back, then to the sky as the plane descended.

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