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A Love Once Lost

by MDCoe 

Posted: 30 September 2005
Word Count: 1165
Summary: A man spends his whole life pursuing love, wealth, and security only to discover that in TRUE love exist all three.

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Chapter One

New York - John F. Kennedy Airport - May 2002

The cockpit of the large commercial jet was only feet away, in plain view of passengers from inside the terminal building. It was parked at the gate, separated from the lobby where travelers waited, only by a large wall of glass. Sitting in the left seat behind the flight controls of the Boeing 767 jetliner was Captain Ryan Michaels, an eighteen year veteran for one of the largest airlines in the world. Captain Michaels was the epitome of what a person would imagine an airline pilot to be; not only did his appearance exude confidence and experience but his personality traits could be described as: careful, precise, logical, systematic, and accurate. A quick glimpse into the cockpit by boarding passengers, seeing Captain Michaels sitting at the controls would ease the nerves of even the most timid flyers. He was a distinguished looking man, his mostly gray hair was neatly trimmed; he had masculine arms and strong hands.

As a light summer rain fell from an overcast sky, Captain Michaels sat alone reflecting; starring at the cockpit’s thick windshield as rain drops hit the glass, some pausing, others slowly streaming down the glass leaving a crooked trail of water behind. A small sign was posted on the outside wall of the terminal building, at Ryan’s eye level some twenty feet above the ramp; it read "PUSH BACK CLEARANCE REQUIRED RAMP 129.55 OR 130.55". Looking beyond the cockpit’s windshield and through the large plate glass window, he watched the people; business men on cell phones dressed in suits; families with small children probably heading to or from summer vacations or visits with relatives; people sitting alone reading books or listening to music - some of them more than likely were waiting to board the flight that he would soon be piloting from New York (JFK) to Los Angeles (LAX). He wondered if anyone had a normal life anymore; what was a normal life? He knew that he could probably safely assume that the lives he sat silently, unknowingly watching, would have stories of their own to tell.

Feeling that he was starting to get lost in thoughts far from the job at hand, he quickly glanced down at the clock on the instrument panel. To the untrained eye, it was just one of many dials and gauges cluttering the panel but his eyes knew exactly where to go. The digital read-out in the small window on the face of the clock told him that there was forty-seven minutes before departure; he felt relaxed; there was still plenty of time.

The sequence of events for the departure were very familiar to him: the passengers would be boarded thirty-minutes prior to departure; the copilot would come in from doing the exterior preflight; the flight plan would be loaded into the computer and checked; the instruments would be set-up; the checklist would be read and the systems checked; ten minutes before departure he would turn the seat belt sign on signaling the number one flight attendant to make an announcement to the passengers; the gate agent would check in with him to let him know when the passenger boarding was complete; the entry door would be closed; the number one flight attendant would advise him when the cabin was ready for departure; the ramp tower would be called for push-back clearance; the parking break would be released and the ground crew would be advised they were cleared to push. It was a routine he had done thousands of times before. But for now he was still alone; his thoughts returned to the people on the other side of the glass.

A young couple caught his eye. They were holding hands, sitting shoulder-to-shoulder sharing an armrest, peering out the large window, smiling as they talked; they kissed. He remembered his thoughts when he was about their age. He was in love with Emily and full of dreams; he had a plan for his life - their life together. The reality was that things had not turned out the way he thought they would, but would he go back? He knew that, even it were possible, any attempt to live life over, without a knowledge of the future, would only be filled with new and different trials, possibly more difficult than those he’d already faced.

His many years as a pilot had taught him to be flexible, to think on his feet, make changes when necessary, and adapt. As unpleasant as the memories were, he could hear his father’s words like a broken record, ‘learn to deal with it’. The airline business was a business that was bound by the minute hand on a clock - it was all about schedules. But Ryan knew that even with a meticulously thought out flight plan - course, altitude, speed, fuel, and weather - there would be the need for changes enroute; deviations around ominous weather, changes in altitude for smoother rides, alterations in speed for separation or sequencing with other aircraft; life was much the same.

At the young age of 46, some would say that he was over-the-hill, finished, ready to be put out to pasture. But he felt differently. There was no doubt that he had experienced his share of “changes enroute”, but the way he saw it, he was on course and still headed toward his destination; the best years of his life.

As Captain Ryan Michaels sat reflecting, he knew that his greatest mistakes in life were the result of his youthful haste. Could he fix them if he went back? Would he go back if he could? Probably not. In a way he felt remorse that the years gone by had taken with them some of his dreams but in exchange, he had been given new dreams and a perspective on life that was not available when he was young at heart - for this he was thankful.

The years and experiences had slowly transformed him into a different man with a fresh, new outlook on his future. He had learned things about love he could have never known; he defined wealth through different eyes; each passing year distanced him further and further from his fears and brought him closer to the stability and security for which he had longed. Ironically, the great pursuits of his life would never have been possible apart from life’s many valuable but often painful lessons. He knew he couldn’t change the past but he could affect his future. He was excited about walking into a new beginning filled with new adventures with the woman he had loved for most of his life. He decided to do what he told his passengers to do on every flight, once they reached cruise altitude, “...ladies and gentlemen, sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride”.

NOTE: You can go to www.thepilotbook.com and forward your email if you want to know when this book is available.

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Comments by other Members

AimeeLou1984 at 05:56 on 04 March 2006  Report this post
Your writing seemed to flow really well which is always a good thing. You seem to have a natural ability and although aeroplanes and such aren't really my cup of tea you still managed to keep me reading through until the end.

Aimee xxx

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