taught me to squeak grass, how to get a limpit off a rock, how to fire
an air rifle. His was my first real kiss. But he’s far too busy with
god knows how many women to even notice me these days.
A long winter weekend, his birthday party. His chilly but
luxurious Oxfordshire mansion. We all went out to the shed to watch.
He took Deborah McAllister first. She’s so glamorous and loud, I can’t
stand her. Up they went, loop the loop, diving, spinning, then his
party piece, cutting the engine. He does it every year. We heard the
sound of the engine stop, and hearts leapt, guts and throats
tightened. We waited, everyone gasped, an in-breath held, eyes
skyward… until the engine roared and we all breathed again in unison
After Deborah, he took Harry James, more acrobatics,
showing off to the younger man, ‘See if you like this Harry.’ He cut
the engine, the same suspense, only this time it seemed much longer,
until it coughed to life again, up and away. Auntie Maeve was next.
She’s sixty-five so he took a very straight path with her, just a
plain safe short ride in a fast machine. I was glad. He looked at me
when they’d landed and winked. I busied my eyes elsewhere, knowing he
would ask me, teasing when I declined, ‘still scared cousin.’
And then it was Gerry’s turn, dear Gerry. The dependable,
caring sort. Before he got in he gave me a peck on each cheek, just
here.. and here…
For some reason, he always showed off most to Gerry. I
often wonder if it was because he not-so-secretly faniced Kelsie,
Gerry’s stunning Canadian wife. Up they went, spiralling into the sky,
spinning, upside down, rolling, loop the loop, painting graceful
circles. I watched, with a mixture of envy and dread, the tiny plane,
free as a bird. Then came the stupid cutting of the engine, the
silence, the gasp, the held in-breath, the waiting, tightening,
gripping, twisting, squeezing hard, holding on, waiting, waiting,
collapsing screaming shouting fainting wailing running yelling no no no.
Away in the distance, just a thin cloud of black smoke
and a single flame twirling up and away towards the clouds.
Jo Hutton works as a sound artist for a national radio station and
writes short fiction in her spare time, hoping to get published