Blacksburg Municipal Airport
Saturday, January 14, 2023
1134 Hours (local)
He casually slipped his arm over the shoulders of the woman next to him and smiled at the younger woman in front of them as she moved around the old yellow biplane. “I’m proud of her,” he said.
“That makes two of us,” the woman responded, also not taking her eyes off the younger woman and the plane.
The young woman turned around and waved to them, smiling broadly. She looked like her mother, the same auburn hair and olive skin, but she had her father’s seawater-green eyes and intense gaze. She also had his “Flyboy” smile.
“We did good, Mac,” the man said.
She nodded, “That we did, Harm. That we did.” They watched her for a moment in silence. “She’s a lot like you.”
“I know,” he admitted. “But she’s a lot like you, too.”
Mac nodded. “She is just as obsessed with flying as you.”
Harm grinned. “She comes by it honestly. We were both pilots, at some point.”
“I think you’ve always been more obsessed than I.”
“Maybe,” he shrugged. “God…” he sighed. “It seems like just yesterday I was standing here watching you take her up for the first time, by yourself.”
“Less than 18 years ago,” she reminded him gently.
“And pregnant with Tori at the time.”
“I didn’t know,” Mac shrugged. “It did explain how lousy I was feeling.”
“And she’s been trouble ever since,” Harm laughed.
“I don’t know how I’ve been able to survive the both of you,” Mac answered, laughing with him.
“You? What about me?” Harm laughed.
Tori, short for Victoria, walked back towards her parents. She had checked the plane over and was getting ready to climb in when she saw the couple watching her. Having gotten her pilot’s license a week earlier, on her seventeenth birthday, she was taking her father’s plane, Sarah, up, solo, for the first time. He had gotten the plane from his father who had gotten it from his father. Her father was going to restore it with her grandfather, but they never had the chance. Over the years, the three of them had made countless trips down to Blacksburg to work on the plane. She had been flying in the plane with her mom as soon as she was old enough. And now, finally, it was her turn. Approaching her parents, she had a smile on her lips.
“Hey,” Mac said. “You ready to go up?”
Tori nodded. “I just wanted to say thanks, mom, dad, for supporting me through all of this,” she said, grinning.
“You’ve made us proud,” Harm said, pulling his daughter into a hug. “Congratulations. Treat her well up there, and she’ll treat you well.”
Mac wrapped her arms around both her daughter and her husband. “You be careful up there.”
“I will,” Tori said. She moved to step away from her parents and go out on her own, but she stopped a few strides away. “Hey, dad?”
“Yeah?” Harm responded.
“You want to fly with me?” she smiled.
“It’s your day, honey. You take her up,” he insisted.
“Come with me. Come fly with me.”
“No, I don’t want to intrude,” he insisted again, “it’s your special day.”
Tori glanced to her mom.
Harm caught the gaze as Mac squeezed his arm.
“Please, dad. I want you to come with me.”
“You sure?” he asked, his mouth forming a smile despite his best efforts to keep it hidden.
“Yes,” she laughed, her eyes twinkling. “Go grab your stuff.”
“You okay with this?” Harm asked Mac.
Mac nodded. “Go, have fun. How many times did I leave you on the ground when I was learning to fly? And when I took Tori up? It’s your turn,” she smiled.
Harm nodded and moved back to the hangar.
Tori smiled up at her mom.
Mac pulled her into another hug. “I am so proud of you, Tori.”
“Thanks, mom,” Tori hugged her back.
“Thank you,” Mac said, pulling back and looking at her daughter. “This means a lot to him, you know?”
Tori nodded. “It means a lot to me, too.”
Harm came back with his helmet and goggles. “You ready?”
“I’ll be careful, mom,” Tori promised.
“I know you will,” Mac smiled. “You, too, Harm.”
“I’ve stayed out of trouble for years,” he reminded her.
“I know. That’s what scares me,” she grinned. “Watch out for him up there,” she warned her daughter.
“I know, I know,” she smiled. “I love you, mom.”
“Love you, too,” Mac replied.
Harm and Tori started walking back to the plane. “I love you, too, dad,” Tori said as she looked up at her father.
Harm draped his arms over her shoulders and pulled her close. “I love you, too, Tori.”
Mac watched them go, smiling softly. Watching them as they climbed into the plane, started her up, and got her moving, she felt the tears well in her eyes. Those tears spilled out of her eyes and ran down her cheeks as she watched the plane take off, her husband in the front and her daughter in the back, at the controls. All of their dreams had come true, housed in the figure of their daughter. And whatever Tori decided to do, Mac knew she would soar, rise above whatever challenges were presented in her life.
She was, after all, their daughter.
That's it. The end.