—Kathy, please prepare the cabin for takeoff.
—You already said that, sir. Sir? Brian?
—Is the cabin prepared?
—We’re airborne, sir.
—I’d like to hear that from Troy, please.
—We’re airborne, sir.

What else have I forgotten? Did I do my pre-flight check? The engines, if they were turning any more smoothly, would be silent. I don’t believe them any more than I trust the earth that rolls by gently beneath us beckoning.

—What does everyone think of me, Kathy?
—Please, Brian. Shouldn’t we call the tower?
—And what, turn around while we still have fuel?
—If you’re not feeling well.
—So you trust me to land?

Sometimes the horizon is a finish line in the distance, other days—I feel the pull of the earth like another silent engine—a level I don’t dare to dip below.

—We could let Troy take over, sir.
—That shows how little you comprehend.

How I envy the clarity of these instruments. Just once, I wish I were understood as well as I understand this yoke. A little nudge and we stay on course, but too much leaning forward and we fall off a cliff.

—Tell me something I can understand.

We only think we’re pilots because of where we sit on the plane. From the aft galley, with all those rows ahead of us, we’d know we’re not in control, just trying to put one terminal behind us, headed for another.

—What are you planning to do?
—Something incontrovertible.
—There’s no such thing, you know.
—I know. Doubt creeps in. And now I can’t decide.

The most annoying little girl has asked to see the cockpit. I sit her on my lap. She wipes her gummy fingers on my face and I promise to get her safely to the Magic Kingdom.

Copyright © May 05, 2008 David Hodges

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