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Lost Moments: "Flying Lessons: A Short Story"

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“I took a couple of lessons…it wasn’t for me” --Jack Shephard


It was here where he first met her. The Left Seat Bar and Grill was a hang out for pilots, ground mechanics, and aviation enthusiasts. Located at a small general aviation regional airport, one mile from San Sebastian Hospital, it wasn’t a place you’d expect to find a renowned spinal surgeon.

Dr. Jack Shephard liked the fact that here no one knew who or what he was. No one asked him to make any life or death decisions. The only decision he ever had to make was what type and how strong of drink he wanted. It had been a month since his separation from Sara. Sara had moved on. He hadn’t. Jack gazed out the bar’s large picture window, watching planes take off and land. He found himself comforted by that and by two or three scotch on the rocks!

He noticed the Cessna 150 land and taxi up to the bar’s runway entrance. The pilot hopped out of the plane and entered. Jack watched. She was beautiful. Trim, her long blonde hair tied up in a pony tail. She had walked straight up to the bar. The bartender seemed to know her, as he brought over a cup of coffee. Jack wanted to say something clever but couldn’t think of anything. Finally he said, “That’s pretty convenient.” “Excuse me?” she replied. Jack smiled, “you taxiing right up to the door!” She smiled back, “just one of the airport privileges!” Jack moved over but didn’t sit right next to her. He left one barstool between them as a sort of psychological barrier in case their budding conversation began to crumble. “So, are you flying in or flying out tonight?” he asked. “Oh, I’m home,” she replied, “just flew up from San Diego.” “What’s in San Diego?” Jack asked. “I’m participating in an aerobatics show next month. I was down there practicing.” “Aerobatics, huh,” Jack said, “that’s pretty intense!” She nodded, “Yeah, but when everything is going smoothly there’s not a better feeling in the world!” Jack nodded back, “I’m Jack Shephard, by the way.” “Aimee Collins,” she replied. “I thought about taking flying lessons one time,” Jack mused, “but I could never find the time.” “What do you do that takes up so much of your time, Jack?” Aimee coyly asked. “I’m a doctor over at San Sebastian,” he answered. “I hope you’re not on duty!” she said, nodding at the glass of scotch in Jack’s hand. He laughed, “no, not until tomorrow!”

Aimee finished her coffee and stood up to leave. “Nice meeting you, Dr. Shephard,” she said, “you should find the time to take lessons someday. I think you’d find it exhilarating!” Jack grinned, “Maybe I will, especially if my instructor looks like you!” He couldn’t believe he had just said that! The scotch was definitely taking affect! Aimee smiled, then handed him a card. “Whenever you are ready for a lesson,” she said, “give me a call!” Jack smiled.

Three days later, he found himself at 5,000 feet. “We’re going to practice a standard stall,” Aimee announced, as she pulled back the throttle to reduce engine power while raising the Cessna’s nose. Jack gripped the side of the seat, as the airflow across the wings disrupted and the plane began to shudder. “Now, I’m going to show you how to recover from a stall in a Cessna 150!” Aimee said, as the plane lost lift. “Okayyy!” Jack nervously answered. Aimee released her grip on the controls and removed her feet from the rudder pedals! As the plane started to slowly spin, it suddenly recovered and leveled out! “The 150 is designed to self-correct in a spin!” Aimee coolly announced, as she re-took the controls and throttled up the engine. “Well, that’s really good to know!” Jack replied, breathing a slight sigh of relief.

They continued to see each other over the next few weeks, whenever their schedules would permit. She stayed over at his place twice. He, at hers, once. In time, Jack began to once again feel comfortable, to feel relaxed, to feel love!

On Tuesday, the last time Jack would ever see Aimee, the Cessna gently rolled to a stop. They de-boarded and headed into the Left Seat Bar and Grill. “You’re doing very well, Jack,” Aimee said over dinner, “you’re really a natural. When do you want your next lesson?” Jack grinned mischievously, “oh, I can answer that in so many ways!” Aimee smiled, as she leaned over and kissed him. “I’m flying back down to San Diego first thing tomorrow morning to practice for the upcoming meet,” she said, “how about we get together for breakfast Thursday morning, then we’ll have another lesson later that day?” Jack nodded, “sounds good to me!” After dinner, they both decided to call it a night, as she needed the time to study over some diagrams for her aerobatic routines and Jack was scheduled to perform an operation early the next morning. “See you Thursday!” Aimee said, as she softly kissed him goodbye. Jack suddenly realized, as she drove away, why he was so attracted to her. It was not just her beauty or her intelligence, it was the fact she made her own decisions. Her pilot training demanded that of her and she had carried it over into her private life. He liked the fact he wasn’t asked to make decisions for her, then blamed later if those decisions didn’t work out. Sara, as well as some of the other women he had known in his life, had a tendency to do that. Aimee didn’t ask him to “fix” things and he wasn’t compelled to do so. However fate, as always, seemed to step in at the last moment!

So Jack would never have that breakfast with Aimee. Would never have that next flying lesson. On Wednesday, down in San Diego, Aimee had taken off in her special aerobatics plane for a practice run. As she lifted off the runway, she tried to make a rapid climb but at 700 feet her plane’s engine stalled and she just didn’t have enough speed, time, or altitude to recover! She was killed instantly upon impact! As for Jack, he never took another flying lesson. He decided it just wasn’t for him! The End. Next Story: “17th Place”

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