Through Eager Eyes - Chapter 612:00 PM
Full of Wonder and Innocence, a Young Girl Romances the Sky
A Short Story by Dan Pimentel
(Note: This is the final of six chapters in this story. Click here to read all chapters - dan)
Chapter 6: Wow Wow Wow
I do not claim to be very good at navigation. I have heard terms like "north" and "south," but they mean nothing to me. But up here, floating along on Katy's wonderful wings, I can certainly sense things, and get a feel for where we were going before, and where we are going now.
Before, my adventure was taking me away from the field where we departed, away to a great unknown, seeking to find out where this day was to take me. Even though I can't tell you which direction we are headed, Katy continues to slide through thin air with the greatest of ease, and the feeling prevails that this flight is nearing its end. If that is true, it makes me ponder just why we came up here, up to paradise, only to swiftly turn back towards the airport. Maybe I should tell them my dismay in seeing this journey end, maybe kick my feet hard on the back of DooDah's seat while throwing a fuss with enough determination to get someone's attention. But no, I am content to just go with the flow, to see where this escapade ends.
While pondering this concept of compass direction to see if I can somehow noodle out how to confirm if we are in fact headed back to the field, something miraculous happens that again makes me think this whole adventure was customized specifically for me by the Universe. As I gaze out the window, I spot a large bird, possibly a strong, ambitious Hawk, gliding majestically alongside Katy. He – or she – seems to be dancing on the airflow coming off Katy's wings, riding the waves of air flowing with turbulent force behind the wing.
My new friend, the Hawk, slips right up to the window, tight in formation with us, so tight, I am sure nobody else in the plane can see it. Maybe I can't even see it, maybe again my mind has taken a holiday from reality, and this beautiful creature toying with our flying machine is just another manufactured part of my fantasy.
As it shadows our every move, the bird's muscular wings never move, instead using our Cherokee's slipstream as its power, as if Katy were leading the way for a huge flock of birds, and the sizable bird was our wingman. I study its graceful body, the way the wings flex and move effortlessly. If the bird wants to turn slightly, a tiny adjustment in one wing's geometry is all it takes to make the course correction. It's as if the miniscule twitch of a single feather can alter the bird's route of flight. I marvel in God's engineering as it relates to birds, and must confess, am quite jealous that they are allowed to be able to fly using only their body, while we need a complex machine to achieve the same feat.
Are we the lucky ones, or are the birds, this I ponder. With the freedom to fly naturally with only the mere movement of its wings, the bird can move about without a care. They are able to travel long distances or zoom with reckless abandon through the trees of the forest, using cunning instincts to somehow miss making contact with the smallest of branches. We, on the other hand, possess far smarter intellect than the birds, but the freedoms of flight we share with them have to be earned.
In a moment, the bird twists his mighty head hard left, putting his beak squarely into the wind to immediately launch his body up and to the left in a "break off" maneuver that any Top Gun would respect. With a blink, my Hawk friend is gone, and my attention turns to the drone of Katy's engine, which has changed tones. I notice DooDah's hand is again on the important white knob, and he is fiddling with a number of things up front.
It is clear now that the engine's sound has decreased, and it appears Katy's nose has dipped down below the horizon. Are we going down? We certainly are not going up any longer, this I can validate. And unlike the past few minutes where we strolled through the sky kind of straight and generally level, I sense now we are in fact descending, but for what?
Then it hits me...our flight is about over. How can this be so, we didn't go anywhere. We didn't go find some tiny airport with biplanes and hamburgers and other kids as mystified with flight as I am. No, it's becoming apparent once I indeed spot the airport that we might well be coming back to where we started, without ever reaching a true destination.
DooDah is busy now, talking through that strange spike near his mouth, and turning a bizarre little crank handle that I am just now noticing which inhabits a space just above the two front seats. Whatever could that crank be for? It must be quite important, because as we continue to head downward back towards the airport, DooDah reaches up periodically to rotate it with great care and precision.
Closer, closer still, we fall towards the ground, in a controlled way that feels equally safe and crazy, all at the same time. We seem to be traveling now at a much slower speed, and again I am baffled when DooDah reaches between the front seats and pulls the emergency brake handle...at least that's what Mommy calls that handle in her car! Could it be that's how DooDah stops Katy in the air, with some kind of braking system to deflect the air and slow us down? Man, it is great that as this adventure continues, new things come my way all the time. Yeah, I guess abundance will do that!
I peer down to see that same odd street we were on before, the one with the big white line down the middle and large numbers on the ends. There are many other precisely-drawn markings, none of which make any sense to me now. We are flying perpendicular to it going away from the airport...wait, am I confused, maybe this adventure isn't over after all.
DooDah continues doing the same routine, talking into his spike thingy, twisting the important white knob, pulling up on the emergency brake handle, and turning the little crank handle up above him. He does these things in rapid succession, it is really clear now that something important is happening. But what is a little strange is the fact that as DooDah plays around with all this stuff, Katy continues to fall from the sky, and the ground is coming up to greet us in a way that seems a bit unnerving, I must now admit.
And while I have already determined that my sense of direction is still developing, it's easy to see that we are turning now back towards the airport, back to the funny street with the big numbers. DooDah's turns seem calculated, as if he is trying to turn only so far before flying straight a while before again starting another similar and equally precise left turn. Once that turn is complete, I am amazed to see the funny street's big numbers filling our windshield.
The excitement is building towards what feels like a conclusion to a great piece of living. As Katy comes closer and closer to the ground, we seem to be flying fast and low and it is now that I feel the very first wee bit of anxiety on this entire flight. We are mere feet from the ground, and without warning, Katy's nose pitches upwards and the plane slows as it slips back to Earth riding on a cushion of invisible air. We float for what seems like infinity in a strange sort of transitional otherworld where the flying machine struggles to maintain its ability to fly before eventually giving up when wheels hit runway and it again becomes a rather unstable rolling vehicle.
We have arrived, and I hear DooDah tell me over his shoulder something about a "greaser," however I see no grease anywhere. In time, as with many things about this flight and this adventure, I will learn these things, if not from DooDah, then from anyone who will talk to me about the wonders of flight. If nothing else, today has sparked my curiosity about flying and airplanes in a way that requires me to learn more.
After a rather boring ride in Katy as we return to the exact place where we began, I watch as DooDah pulls out a big red knob, one he handles with as much respect as the important white knob. As he pulls it out, Katy's big engine comes to a stop, the big spinny thing in front stops rotating, and in a moment, all is quiet inside the cabin. As everyone turns to look at me, I speak with great intensity the first word I've spoken on the trip. "How'd you like that," Daddy asks. My reply was with great energy.
"More!" I shout, raising my arms up high over my head as an exclamation point. It was the only word I could imagine having the required amount of clout to describe my feelings for the joy I have experienced this day.
This adventure has officially come to an end, and after I step out on Katy's wing, Mommy lifts me down to the ground, and notices that I'm smiling wide, my face awash in the afterglow of a most incredible day. I have been introduced to something so cool, so wonderful and so surreal, I know I'll fly again with DooDah and Katy, if not tomorrow, then soon. It feels completely reasonable to imagine myself up there in the front seats one day, my hand on that important white knob, commanding my own flying machine as we fly like birds to places unknown.
I have seen the romantic side of the sky through my eager eyes, and it has been delightful. I desire to tell everyone I meet about the fantasy flight I have just enjoyed, but today it is just not possible. Words live in my mind in perfect harmony with my thoughts, but I am unable to verbalize this experience to the world, or shout with glee from any rooftop. The words are just not there to convey my excitement, not yet. But trust me, there will come a time in about six months when I'll be able to say those words clearly and with purpose, and describe this wonderful adventure.
Yes, I'll tell the world my story about flying in six months, when I am two years old.