Short story by Iris Carden
Alice stood in front of the mirror and pinned the wings on her uniform shirt.
She thought back to her childhood.
Her brother Charlie had asked, “What do you want to do when you grow up?”
Alice had put her arms out to the sides, run around the back yard, yelling, “Zoom! Zoom! Zoom! I’m going to be a pilot and fly all over the world! Zoom! Zoom! Zoom! Zoom!”
Charlie had looked at her as if she’d had two heads. “You can’t be a pilot,” he said. “Girls can’t be pilots. You have to be a hostess and give out drinks and food. But you can’t get fat. They don’t let hostesses get fat. And you have to stop work when you get married, so you can look after your husband and your kids.”
Alice had sat back down on the ground, in tears.
“What do you want to do when you grow up?” Charlie then asked Eric, Alice’s best friend.
“When I grow up, I’m going to be a passenger in Alice’s plane,” Eric said firmly. “And if they don’t let girls fly the plane, then they’re dumb. Besides, Alice can just not tell them she’s a girl.”
As Alice looked in the mirror, Eric came up behind her, put his arms around her waist and rested his head on her shoulder. He looked at her, via the mirror. “Are you ready for this?”
She sighed, “Everything has to end some time, but I am going to miss the open skies.”
“It’s not ending, just changing. You are going to be the best pilot trainer they’ve ever had. I know that because you’re the best pilot they ever had. There’s a reason they want the next generation to be just like you.”
She noticed he wasn’t wearing his suit. “Not going to the office today?”
“No, I took a week off. I’m going to be a passenger on your plane. Then we’re going on to London to visit Charlie, if that’s OK with you. We can see how he’s enjoying his promotion to charge nurse.”
Alice smiled. “All those years ago when he was throwing cold water on my dreams, I never imagined he was just afraid he’d never be able to live his own.”
“I know,” Eric answered, “But he seems to be happy at last. Oh, I have clothes packed for you, so you’re not just stuck with your overnight bag.”
Of course he did, Eric always thought of the details. She leaned back against her husband, and best friend. “I wouldn’t have done it without you, you know,” she said.
“Yes you would have,” he answered. Then he poked her in the ribs and said, “Just not as well.”