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Planes and PB&J

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“Uncle Hal, where are we going?”

“To meet my best friends, Helen, and to see some awesome planes. In short I’m taking you to work with me today. I have don’t have any flights scheduled for today, so I can finally show you around,” Hal shot her his trademark cool pilot uncle grin.

“What are your friends like?” Helen asked curiously. She was equally curious about the planes but she had of course known a bit about her uncle’s work, but nothing about the people in his life.

“You’ll see when we get there. I’m sure you’ll like each other. Now put on your scarf, Helen. It’s windy outside and we don’t want you catching a cold.”

Helen put on her favourite pink Hello Kitty scarf which Hal got her for her last birthday. Hal adjusted it for her tying it so that it covered her neck better, and off they were.

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“Carol, this is my niece, Helen,” Hal started the grand tour of Ferris Air at Carol’s office.

For a second Carol considered a snarky comment like “It’s not bring your child to work day, Jordan”, but she suppressed that impulse. Hal wouldn’t mind the comment, not really. This is how they communicated on a daily basis, the snark having no real bite, but Helen might get the wrong idea.

“Delighted to meet you, young lady. Hal’s told me about you. I’m Carol Ferris. Your uncle is my good friend and my best pilot. Maybe you’re gonna be his successor one day,” Carol gave her a wink and shook her little outstretched hand.

“She’s a bit young for us to be thinking bout that,” Hal laughed awkwardly as he realized the concept of Helen flying made him uneasy. He never thought of the danger in relation to himself but the idea his niece could ever put herself at such risk frightened him. He understood this was what his mother must have felt back in the day.

“I’m busy reviewing paperwork someone handed in late,” she shot Hal an icy glare, “So I can’t take you around but I’m sure Tom could spare a moment.”

Just then they heard a knock on the door.

“Speak of the devil. Tom, what I asked you for can wait. I’ll finish up paperwork and we can meet then. In the meantime, please, show Helen around. She could learn a thing or two from my best mechanic,” Carol gave Tom a warm smile.

“Thanks for sparing him, Carol.” While Hal knew plenty about planes, Tom was the real expert and nobody could talk about them with as much colour and zeal as he could.

“So this is the lovely young lady Hal told me about, the famous Helen.”

Helen giggled and made a curtsey.

“I’ll show you the best of what we’ve got here, follow me,” he went through the office door.

“Goodbye Mrs. Ferris.” Helen went after Tom, after waving her goodbye to Carol.
“Just call me aunt Carol,” Carol waved back.

As Hal was about to follow them and wave his own goodbye, Carol spoke to his back. “A child suits you, you know… who would have thought.”

Hal turned to her “I’m happy to have her, I just wish it would have come around differently,” there was grief in Hal’s eyes.

Carol knew he meant the accident Helen’s parents had died in. Or rather them being murdered by Monsieur Stigmonus deliberately causing the car crash. She immediately regretted her comment that had prompted this.

“We’re both trying to make the best of it tough,” Hal gave her a tentative smile, but sadness still lingered in his eyes.

“That I’ve noticed,” Carol smiled at him warmly and squeezed his shoulder. “Off you go now.”

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The day had been exciting. Tom was doing his best as tour guide, gesturing excitedly as he shared lots of trivia and anecdotes, some of which Hal hadn’t heard himself, so he enjoyed himself just as much as Helen did.

She had lots of questions to ask both Tom and Hal. The only thing that made Hal uneasy were the questions about her grandpa… forever a sore subject for Hal, even after all these years. The child’s curiosity was only natural though, so he couldn’t blame her.

When Tom had to go back to work, Hal and Helen had an impromptu picnic on the grass by the fence, eating the PB & J sandwiches Hal had prepared for them and watching the planes pass by over their heads. Thankfully by then the day had turned warmer and the sun had come out, making the early Autumn day feel almost summery.

“Uncle Hal, I think I’d like to work here one day. Maybe with Mr Tom. He knows so much!.”

“That he does,” Hal smiled. “If you want to work here you need to study hard, Helen, especially Maths and when you’re older also Physics. That’s a good goal to have. I’d definitely be proud of you. Not that I’m not already. You always make me proud,” Hal vastly preferred the idea of Helen as a mechanic than a pilot.

“Or maybe I could fly like you and grandpa,” Helen looked up at Hal and smiled a broad grin.

“Maybe...” Hal knew he would sound like a hypocrite if he made any reservations about the idea. “Either way it’s studying Maths and Physics for you, young lady… Or maybe you could be the boss one day like aunt Carol. Then you’d be my boss too.”

Hal started tickling her side and Helen erupted into giggles.

“C’mon, Helen, we have to go home, there’s that Maths homework you need to do.”

“If I want to work here.”

“Exactly,” Hal nodded with a smile and took her hand as they started making their way back home.