512 Words

The Watering Hole

M. Stanley Bubien

The pilot gazed out the window as he banked the airliner on course. The angle gave him a view of the ground far below. He cold see the roads, winding like the slot-car tracks he'd played with as a child, the houses, like scale models he'd constructed for his train set, and the scattered lakes...

"Mm hmm," he smirked with half his mouth, wishing once again as his mind drifted briefly back to his youth.

In those days, Spring had always began the first morning the wind whipped across the Watering Hole---a small lake named from his favorite Western---chopping the surface to a froth and wetting the surrounding knolls with spray.

"C'mon!" he challenged the wind. "You can do better than that! I want my wish today!"

It seemed to gust stronger after that taunt. Downwind his kite, a brilliant blue diamond, sat propped on a rock, waiting for a strong gust and a tug on the string. Actually, he knew that on days like this the wind blew so hard across the Watering Hole, the kite required no extra lift---but he gave the taunt anyway; it was tradition.

He yanked and the kite righted itself and leapt into the air, shooting skyward while he reeled out line as fast as he could without burning his palms from the friction.

From here on, it was a battle. Would he be victorious, reeling the kite to its highest altitude and holding it there in hopes of his wish, or would the wind win, snapping the line and whisking the blue diamond away, wobbling and tumbling off into the distance?

"I'll beat you again!" he cried defiantly at the sky, "And maybe even get my wish!"

As he fought, an airliner thundered toward him---every Spring, the winds forced the nearby airport to reroute the planes over the Watering Hole, and they would rocket overhead, engines roaring as they lifted the lumbering giants skyward

"WOO HOO!" he yelled, and reeled out line even faster. The wind obliged, and the kite went up, higher and higher, on an intercept course with the plane.

"C'mon! C'mon!"

His reel spun at a blinding speed, and his palms burned, but he ignored them, calling encouragement to the kite.

"Reach it! So my wish can come true!"

The string whistled outward. The kite shot higher. The plane loped nearer...

"Touch it!" He jumped up and down---for he was closer than he'd ever been before, and he felt sure it would brush the plane this time. "I want to be a pilot! I want to fly too!"

And nearer...

"Touch the plane! Give me my wish!"

A sudden turbulence rocked the airliner, pulling the pilot from his memory and back to the present. He wrestled against the currents, controls taught against the gusts, until he righted the airliner onto course.

"Yes," he told himself. "I got my wish." Yet he glanced out the window and sighed, wishing---just a bit longer---for the many Watering Holes that spread below, miles---and years---out of reach.

Copyright ©1997 M. Stanley Bubien. All Rights Reserved.

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April, 1997
Issue #12

512 Words