A Story for Today

Emily had just turned 12. The day was Saturday, and she didn’t have anything to do. Her younger brother Tony was bored. She liked going fishing with Tony. They went often, but seldom caught anything. Now the creek across the field was raging with flood waters. Finally Emily said, “Let’s go fishing, Tony!”

“Hey, that sounds like fun! Maybe there’ll be big fish since the creek is flooded,” said Tony. Emily and Tony set off across the fields, each carrying a fishing pole and small tackle box. After crossing a few fence rows, they were at the creek. Next to the creek were an old airplane hangar and a grass runway. If they were lucky someone would be flying and they might be able to catch an airplane ride. Just then a silver plane cruised over the runway. “Hey, that’s Ray!” said Emily. “Oh, goody!” said Tony, “maybe he’ll give us a ride. Let’s run and see!”

Tony and Emily hid their fishing poles under an old airplane parked behind the hangar. They ran out to the edge of the runway and held their thumbs up as Ray came in for a landing. Sure enough, Ray taxied over to where they were standing and shut off the plane. “You want to go up?” asked Ray. “Sure,” said Emily. Ray helped Emily into the plane and fastened her seatbelt. He pushed the starter button and the plane cranked once and then died. “Dead battery,” said Ray. “I’ll get out and start it.” He jumped out and spun the propeller with his arm. The engine sputtered a little and was silent. Ray reached into the cockpit and fiddled with some knobs; one was marked “Rich” and the other “Throttle”. Then he went in front of the plane and gave the propeller a mighty heave. The plane roared to life, and the wind from the propeller slammed the door shut. Ray’s hair was blowing straight back as he tried to pull the door open. Emily was pushing on the door from the inside, too, but the wind from the propeller was too strong for them. The door would open an inch or two, and then shut as Ray was blown back against the wing strut.

Soon Emily noticed that the plane was beginning to move. What should she do? What could she do? There were lots of knobs and buttons in the cockpit in front of her. She couldn’t even jump out, because she couldn’t open the door. The plane was now moving faster. Ray lost his hold on the wing and Emily saw him running fast, trying to catch up to the plane. He reached the plane and grabbed on to the wing strut, his legs blowing out the back. Once more he fell, and Emily was all by herself. She felt the plane going faster and faster. She pushed the pedals and turned the wheel. Still it kept going faster. They were getting close to the end of the field. She pushed the left pedal all the way in. The plane began a big circle to the left. By now the tail was getting airborne and thumping up and down in huge rabbit hops. Emily didn’t think it was funny. She just wanted to stop and let Ray catch up so they could fly. But Ray was nowhere around.

Soon the hangar came into view. It looked like the plane might hit the hangar. “Oh, no! I don’t want to crash,” thought Emily. But the plane was still headed for the hangar. Emily could see it now. She knew the plane would explode into a big ball of fire when it hit the concrete block hangar wall. Emily heard a crash and saw splinters flying. All was silent. Emily hadn’t exploded. She was still strapped into an airplane seat, waiting for a ride, only there was a concrete block wall against the propeller. She unbuckled her seatbelt and climbed down out of the plane. Her knees collapsed when she reached the ground, and she knelt in the grass. Ray came running, and asked if she was alright. “Sure,” Emily said. They walked around to the front of the plane. The propeller had sliced through an open hangar door, and the nose cone of the airplane had hit the block wall. There were splinters all around from the door. Ray said it was good the hangar door was there to stall the plane and to prevent damage to the engine. “No more rides today,” he said.

Emily and Tony walked behind the hangar and picked up their fishing poles. “Whew!” said Emily. “That was scary. I thought it was going to explode!”

“We’d better not tell Dad,” said Tony, “or we might not be allowed to take any more airplane rides.” “You’re right,” Emily said. And they didn’t tell anybody. This is a true story, although Emily was not a girl and her real name is Jeremy.