Flying Lessons Part I
Morning fog hugged the trees, the hills and swirled around our feet. Father said not to worry, as the sun would send it all away soon. My stomach was jumbly; perhaps the hot confection I had just drunk from my favorite cup was going to be a problem. But there were bushes all along the path we walked. Father would kindly turn his head away to look at the sky, if I suddenly dashed into the greenery.
I held my father’s hand tightly as we made our way up, up the winding path. Bits of rocks and twigs tumbled and rolled as I kicked at the rough ground. Father’s hand squeezed mine every now and then. “Don’t worry, all will be well,” he said, smiling. “You have learned everything you need to know.”
I truly wished he would stop saying that. For three days past, that is all I have heard. Yes, yes, I know! My dreams in the tiny hours of the night were hideous. I woke with startlement, wanting to cry. But every day I learned and drilled and practiced. Read the lessons. Listened to the lessons. I knew everything I was supposed to know.
The sun did begin to chase the fog away. I was disheartened, as we continued to trudge, higher and higher. Hoping the whole thing would be put off because the fog was too thick for flying. I could hear the murmur of voices coming from above. We were getting closer. Not much longer now.
We ducked under the ribbons that had been tied to the trees across the path. Bright colors, the streamers danced in the wind to give us all a cheerful welcome. Most of the students had arrived before us. Some were laughing and talking loudly. Some were silent, with the same look on their faces that I knew was on my face. Dread. Fear. Nerves.
“Father!” I whimpered. “I can’t.”
“Of course you can. You will be perfectly fine. It is safe, you know that.” He guided me closer to the group of instructors. There were sounds coming from beyond the top of the hill. Not visible from where we stood, the hill sloped down, hidden by large boulders and scruffy pine trees. The sounds I was dreading and did not want to hear.
The sun was shining brilliantly now. The last wisps of fog disappeared into the warm yellow light. I had not thrown up, but my stomach still felt uncertain.
“A beautiful morning for flying, eh?” called the head instructor loudly and most decidedly too cheerfully. “Let’s gather round, now. Everyone now.”
Some of us hurried to obey, some of us shuffled, dragging our feet. We formed a somewhat organized half-circle, growing silent. The instructor clapped his hands, grinning in a way that was meant to be friendly. I remembered too clearly how he looked at students when he was not happy with our training.
With a booming voice, he began to outline the morning program. Everyone would have their turn, with an appointed instructor. Our first flight would be relatively short. As I half-listened to his speech, the sounds grew louder beyond the trees. My heart flew up to my throat and I began to look wildly around, to find a way to escape. To run, get away. The sound became a roaring in my ears and I knew, without a doubt, this was the day I would die.
End Part I
Copyright by Robin Larkspur August 2011 This is a work of fiction. Reproduction of this work is not permitted.