The sky was blue, a perfect clear blue. The few clouds were puffy and white, the sun a friendly yellow, the grass emerald green. Even the dreary grey sidewalk was pleasant as it supported Thomas’s thumping little feet. He looked up, traced a thin white line back across the sky to its source. He stumbled, the pavement grew closer, the cracks inches from his face. Impact; the world tumbled, rolled, flipped over. His vision spun the little airplane across Thomas’s sight as he finally fell still, the grass tickling his arms. The pounding of feet greeted his ears as he watched the little airplane slowly right itself in its path across the sky. It had danced for him. He was watching it still, after his parents had stood him up, brushed him off, checked him over, and started him back towards the car.
“He’s bleeding…” his mother said, sounding oddly far off. His attention was still captured by the distant plane.
“He’s dazed; see how he’s staring?” his father replied, nodding towards his son. Thomas’s parents pushed him towards the car. Inside, he traced the airplane in the sky until it was long gone, his chubby cheek pressed against the window.
“Daddy, what was that?” he asked dreamily.
“Hm? What was what, Tommy?” The little boy gazed out the window, tracking the airplane in his mind’s eye.
“That little flying thing. With the fuzzy line behind it?”
His dad stuck his head out the window, looking for the trail in the sky. “Oh, that was an airplane, Tommy.”
Thomas stuck his head out the window, searching the sky for another flying machine.
Three years later, the grass was still green, the sky blue, the sun a warm yellow, the clouds white. The pavement was greyer than before.
An older Thomas lay in the grass in front of his house, head in hands, legs waving in the air. A large picture book was propped up before him. He was flipping through the pages slowly, images of cars, trucks, and trains occupying the pages.
“Airplane….airplane….where’s an airplane…” he muttered as he searched the pages. He turned yet another page, and the search was over. Having found his beloved airplane, he stopped flipping pages and read all the book had to say on the subject of aircraft. Of jets, of engines, of wings. Flying.
Thomas rolled over onto his back, and looked up, searching the sky. It was half-filled with fluffy, mashed potato clouds, blue peeking out from behind the mounds. Sure enough, a little white airplane was making its way across the sky. He followed it with his eyes, dreaming up characters who would be riding it, imagining he knew every inch of that plane, that model.
That he was pilot, that the airplane was breaking, only he could fix it!!
Yes, he could fix it, no ma’am there was nothing to worry about, yes, he could fly this old thing and fix it at the same time. Nothing to worry about.
A few years later, Thomas’s love for airplanes had only increased. He read about them, created and solved problems for them, built models, researched, studied. He went to school, learned his math and science well so that he could one day work on and with his beloved aircraft. Thomas was obsessed.
But even before he learned to deal with pimples, and facial hair, he learned to hide his love of aircraft. Thomas would walk through the halls of his school and be teased for his obsession. It wasn’t cool, it was childish, it was nerdy. So he hid it as best he could, and focused much of his energy on acting normal. But he still studied, learned, built, and drew his airplanes when no one could see him, comment on this abnormal obsession of his.
Thomas would even occasionally bike to the country, where the sky was a clear blue and the grass was an emerald green, where he could read, watch, and chase his airplanes as much and as long as he liked.
Years passed, and Thomas graduated high school, then college, received his master’s degree in engineering.
His first flight was an extremely exciting experience. He marveled the whole trip on how that specific plane had worked, how green the grass was from his window and how close the clouds were. The inside had a stuffy, chemical smell, which he pondered for much of the flight. He finally placed it as a mix of fuel and cleaning fluids. His ears popped, and he delighted in thinking of the airplane’s elevation and the air pressure outside. The smile on his face during the landing and takeoff, where he could feel the speed and acceleration of the plane, scared the woman seated beside him.
Flying soon became routine for him, though no less special than that first flight. Thomas enjoyed his first job, worked hard at it and soon became known for his abilities. He was shipped all over the world to fix and create his beloved airplanes.
One day, Thomas met a girl, fell head over heels in love, and married her. They had kids together, grew old together. She worked alongside him with his airplanes. He had her, he had his kids, he had airplanes, and he was happy.
Thomas watched his kids grow and struggle through life, giving them help when he could. When grandkids came around, he’d take them up in his own little airplane, explain the machinery as long as he could with their short attention spans. They loved the views from his airplane, and forever remembered their grandfather when riding one. Thomas’s grandkids grew up, and he grew old. He watched his skin grow thin, his veins stick out. He felt his face wrinkle, felt his body become frail. He was old, almost too old for his beloved airplanes.
On his final flight, he looked out the window and into the world beyond. The sky was a beautiful, clear blue, the sun a soft yellow, the clouds fluffy white. The grass far below was a healthy emerald green. And as Thomas flew his final flight, he wondered how many small children’s lives were being changed as they watched, wondered and chased this plane.