Author's notes - After that last story, I thought we could all use something a little more cheerful, so here's a short little vignette called that popped into my head today while I was under the influence of Nyquil (I've been miserable for the last two and a half days and I HATE taking Nyquil, which tells you how bad I felt that I broke down and took it). This takes place in the 'Calendar Girl' universe on the day that Harm returns from deployment in July (which means it takes place before 'Days of Sunshine, Days of Shadow'). Harm being Harm, he makes a connection that only he could - I'll let you read the story to find out what that connection is.

And for a few miscellaneous things: I can't link to it from here ( doesn't allow it) but my website is found at .info - just replace what's in parentheses with periods and remove the spaces. And if you want the password for the adult stories (I cannot post Calendar Girl, in particular, here because of the adult nature of most of the stories), you MUST sign up for the password through the mailing list which is linked on the front page of the website. That mailing list ensures that I can maintain some control over who has the password and that readers are informed when the password changes (hint - I will probably be changing it soon). Please do not e-mail me and ask for the password. I will just redirect you to the mailing list.

And thank you to everyone who has been reviewing my stories. Because of the nature of , I can't respond to all the reviews individually because there is no contact information included with most reviews, although I do try to respond to those reviews that do include profile information. I'm just a little behind at the moment because I've been sick this week.

I still remember with perfect clarity the first time I ever went flying.

Oh, not the first time I was in an airplane. I was too young when that happened to have any memory of it. What I know of that day comes from a brief synopsis of the event in my baby book written by Dad. I was just a few days past six months old and it was Easter weekend. Dad had snagged a week of leave and the three of us flew back east on Good Friday to spend the holiday with our extended family so everyone who hadn't yet could meet me for the first time. Dad reported that I was well behaved during the flight and slept through most of it, so there's not much for me to remember even if I'd been old enough. Taped inside my baby book was my first pair of wings, those plastic ones that stewardesses gave out to kids in those days. Dad had been wearing his leather flight jacket during the flight, so they knew he was a military pilot and had given him a pair of wings for me, even though I was too young to appreciate them at the time.

No, I'm talking about the first time I flew. It was the summer I was eleven. Mom and Frank were on their honeymoon, so Gram had taken me back to the farm with her while they were gone. I was admittedly acting out over the whole thing, so everyone thought (as I later figured out) that being in the place where Dad had grown up with his mother would temper my bad mood somewhat.

Two days after we arrived, Tom Boone showed up. I was never sure if it was his idea or Gram's – and I never asked. That was during the period when I was still resentful of the fact that he'd come home when Dad hadn't, so I wasn't exactly thrilled to see him nor did I care to hide it. I spent the better part of two days ignoring his presence, or when I couldn't, speaking only in the shortest possible sentences when spoken to directly by him.

Finally, Gram cajoled me into his rental car and said Uncle Tom was going to take me for a ride. Little did I know at the time that she wasn't talking about a car ride. I did my best to ignore him during the drive to the airfield, and even after we arrived. Yes, I was being a brat. I can admit that now. I was just so mad at everyone and everything at the time that I thought nothing would make things better.

Uncle Tom talked throughout his pre-flight check, explaining what he was doing and why. I never admitted it to him, but I was lapping everything up like a cat laps up the tastiest cream. This was what I wanted to do someday, and in those days, I was counting the time until I would be old enough to take flight lessons, which at the time was still officially five years off. I had no idea when Dad would come home, but I could count the days until I could fly just like he did.

I'm sure now that Uncle Tom knew that, which is why he persisted in the face of my silent, moody opposition. He patiently explained about ensuring you had enough fuel by checking the dip stick instead of relying on the gauge, making sure the plane was in good mechanical condition (including checking the fuel line – the thing that got me into so much trouble the day I took Mac flying for the first time), making sure the tires were sound, etc. Although I pretended indifference, I watched everything carefully, soaking it all in.

The plane itself was nothing special – one of those ubiquitous Piper PA-18 Super Cubs so common at flight schools. The guy who owned it was the same guy who had given my dad his first flying lessons so many years ago, and we were at the same airfield where those lessons had taken place.

Once we were in the air, I gazed out the window, watching the world turn below us, while Uncle Tom continued his narration, telling me how to speed up, slow down, go up, go down and what this gauge told us or that switch did. This was a trainer, so it had dual controls, which meant I could see the same things that Uncle Tom did as he flew the plane and explained the cockpit panel. Compared to my favored ride these days, the Piper panel exemplifies simplicity, which is why it was popular as a trainer with both civilian and military fliers for so many years. I would eventually take lessons and earn my license in a similar Super Cub.

We had been flying straight and level for about ten to fifteen minutes when Uncle Tom shocked me by telling me to take the stick. Startled, it took a moment – and him repeating the command – before I complied. In that instant as I wrapped my hands around the stick, I *knew* that this is what I was meant to do, where I was meant to be.

It was like I became one with the aircraft. Even though I could hear his voice, telling me how to move the stick to go up and down, right and left (no loops or rolls, at least by me, that first time), I might as well have been all alone in that plane, the green earth below me, the blue sky and bright shining sun above. I was free and life was so full of amazing possibilities. I just had to reach out and grab them.

I'd always told anyone who would listen that I was going to be a pilot, just like my father and grandfather. I'd decided that the first time my dad had lifted me into the cockpit of his F-4. But that had always just been a fantasy until I first took the controls of that Super Cub. From that moment, my dreams became reality and I knew that I *could* do this, be just like Dad and Granddad. I knew instinctively what to do. I had been born for this.

I flew the plane only for about ten minutes that first time, Uncle Tom's hands hovering over the controls the entire time just in case. I might have started out the flight indifferent, but by the time I had to let go of the controls, I couldn't hold back the sad sigh as I turned things back over to Uncle Tom and he turned us back towards the airfield.

After we had landed and he'd brought the plane to a stop, no words passed between us. We didn't need them. I'm sure that he could see in my eyes just what that flight had meant to me, how grateful I was to have the chance to be like my dad for just a few brief, exhilarating moments.

After I went to bed that night, I would get mad again, angry that it was Uncle Tom who had taken me up that first time and not my dad as I'd always imagined. But that was later. As I jumped down from the plane, holding onto the frame just a moment longer than necessary, I was still high above the ground, flying free with the birds and the clouds. The fact that it would take hours before my mood would come crashing back down says everything about what that first flight really meant to me.

Of course, I would later have other moments that would come close to matching the feelings I experienced the first time I had control of an aircraft – the first time I wrapped my hands around the stick of an F-14, my first catapult and trap, when I put 'Sarah' through her paces after I finished rebuilding her, the first time I saw Mac's face, the moment I looked into her eyes and said "I do". But nothing quite matched the intense emotions that swirled around me that day twenty-seven years ago….

….until now.


I feel Mac's hand, warm and soft, on my cheek, brushing away a single tear. But I'm unable to pull my gaze away from the baby girl nestled in my arms, eyes the same blue-gray as mine staring up at me from a miniature replica of her mother's face framed by wispy tufts of dark hair.

"I'm flying."