The sun beat down on the pair of them with little mercy, as they stood on the tarmac at Browning Airport waiting for the helicopter pil...

Love in a Helicopter

   The sun beat down on the pair of them with little mercy, as they stood on the tarmac at Browning Airport waiting for the helicopter pilot to emerge from the outhouse. They hadn't spoken for hours, this young couple, so wrapped up were they in a petty argument they'd had about his mother, and the way she behaves at social gatherings. It's unacceptable, the girl had said, that you let her say those things to me. He'd replied, If you cared for me as much as you say you do, you'd understand that she's old and ill and I don't want to wake up one day and find out that she died the night after I argued with her about you. Like all youngsters, they had both been too stubborn to get it resolved. 

   And now, they were set to embark on an early evening helicopter ride over Gagarin Falls. What was set to be the highlight of their holiday, the most romantic trip they had planned, was marred by bickering that had spilled over to times it should not have wetted. And the boy regretted that.  

   He wanted to make it better. To make things okay again. To brush over the cracks and pretend, together, that everything was perfect. But he needed to know one thing before he could let go of the niggling irritation: did she really love him? Unconditionally? More than anyone else she'd ever met? It had always been a question that haunted him as he tried to get to sleep, what with her occasional musing about ex boyfriends, her incessant chatting about men at work, and her unbelievable stories about her circle of friends. And with the mood so low, he thought he might as well throw it out there, and see what she did with it.  

   When he opened his mouth to ask, the helicopter pilot waddled along to interrupt, awkwardly pulling his trousers up around his corpulent waist. Come on then guys, he said. Let's get you trained on safety.  

   The pilot didn't sense the awkwardness between them as he gave them their mandatory talk on helicopter safety. He showed them how to fasten their belts, how to activate their microphones if they needed to ask him something, what to do in the event of an engine failure; and they listened in stone cold silence. When he told them about the Jesus Bolt that holds the propellers on the roof, so named because if it snaps out Jesus is the only one that can save you, the girl laughed and the boy didn't. 

   The pilot turned the roaring engine on, and the girl climbed in. She seemed to be in higher spirits now, but the boy was still lost in thought. He stood outside the helicopter, deciding to get an answer to his question before he boarded.
   Georgina, he said. I need to know if you love me.

   What? She shouted, patting the seat next to her and struggling to place her headset on her head.

   I said, do you love me?

   What? I can't hear you.

   Do you love me?

   I can't hear you, Darren. You'll have to use your microphone. Get in.

   Do you love me?

   The girl loved him. Of course she did. But she had no idea what was coming out of his mouth, so she shook her head.

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