He’s shy and hides behind the way he poses. He’s not really good at posing. He’s doing it now, leaning on his plane. The sun shines off the canopy, fuselage and wing. He’s a good pilot. He’s a very good fighter pilot. I’m his winger. I just love the way he’s so quick with his reactions when we get scrambled and blast into the upper atmosphere. I know I can count on him when it all gets scary. But what’s really special about him is the way he doesn’t mind being equally dependent on me. We’ve saved each other’s lives so many times – and we’ll probably have to go though all that again today. And tomorrow. Please, why did I go to an all-girls’ school and never learn men can be … well … like him? I’ve made some bad choices through naivety.
He always takes off his sunglasses when I get close to him. He doesn’t do that for anyone else. He blinks a lot and his eyes water – every time. I don’t think he realises he’s fallen in love with me.
My husband never looks at me except when he’s angry.
Hot tarmac, fierce heat and light, desert grit under our feet. Our planes ping, metal expanding.
Hello, Juho Jansson, gentle man, fierce warrior. I will protect you today – with all my might. And I know you’ll do the same for me.
There’s going to be a scramble today – I just know. The horrible acceleration. The noise.
We keep about one kilometre apart when reaching sufficient altitude and speed for the scramjets to kick in. That’s the first scary moment in a scramble. I always seem to get to altitude a bit faster than Juho. We’ve talked about this a lot and don’t understand why I do it so well.
And then come the turns. The human body was not designed for those forces. At such speeds one turn takes you over several countries … and your G-suit hurts so much. I can out-turn him though; my short body is so much better at tolerating G-forces. And then the dive: I hate the dive. Everything goes white and aiming can be so hard.
He’s always right behind the descending enemy craft; I mean metres behind and smacking great chunks of their armour off.
Our guns are good. They could chop through concrete but we only carry six seconds of ammunition – 1000 rounds of 20mm armour piercing. Jansson is able to hit the enemy a bit better mainly because he judges precisely the time to stop dodging and turn in pursuit. We’ve discussed this too – of course. Actually, we are both as good as we can get and balance each other.
He always saves a little ammunition to cover my back. I’ve never been so respected and cared for – and been appreciated for giving the same in return.
He’s standing there in the sun, glasses off, blue eyes. Do I do this now … grab his collar and pull him into the everlasting kiss?
I know I’m married and have children … and things will get complicated if I do that. And I know he can’t say no: poor lovely thing.
Once, just once, I want to say I love you to a man – and mean it.
©Gary Bonn, 2017