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Jack never understood people's obsession with windowseats on airplanes. Personally, he favored the middle. There he didn't have toacknowledge the fact that he was speeding miles above the ground, but if hewanted to peer through the thick pane, he was still close enough to doso.
As he settled into his seat the flight attendants swished by, closingthe overhead bins. It had been a long time since he made the trip to Florida tovisit his brother Rob, and he had to keep telling himself he was still youngenough to make it. Seventy-five candles blazing on a cake can light up any room,but he was still active.
No, when he considered it, it wasn't his agethat was bothering him. Rob's wife had just died, and Jack was flying down tocomfort him. Jack was having difficulty deciding if he wanted to ask Rob to comelive with him, or if he should just go to the funeral.
The plane began totaxi. For Jack, this was the worst part of the flight because it always took solong. The young woman next to him was clutching the armrest and staring at theseat in front of her. Inwardly, Jack chuckled, understanding how she felt.
To anyone around him, Jack appeared a calm, seasoned flyer. Take-off,however, always reminded him of the little green geckos he had often seenscampering in the Florida brush, because it felt like one was bouncing anxiouslyinside him. Good-bye, cozy house on Elderberry Lane, Jack thought as the plane'snose tipped higher and higher into the sky. The morning's trek through thecomplex airport had drained his energy, and his head lolled as he dozedoff.
The dream that enveloped him was realistic, with its crisp edges andvibrant autumn colors. It was a recurring dream that brought back his childhoodand the day he lost his best friend to the gaping jaws of a moving van. He hadwatched the van lumber away, snorting and puffing as it climbed the hills.Completely indifferent to his sorrow, it never slowed.
Brian must havefolded the world's colors and joy in with his clothing when he left, becauseafterward everything seemed pallid. Jack turned and trudged into the house, heavywith his sense of loss. He was surprised to find Rob waiting for him, andwelcomed the comfort.
Soon, the room blurred and Rob had to leave. Jacktried to follow him through a labyrinth of corridors and unfamiliar rooms, but hecouldn't catch up. Finally, he was wandering alone, wishing he hadn't lost sightof his brother.
As usual, Jack awoke grateful to escape the dream. Itreminded him of the overwhelming sadness when Brian left. Jack remembered thedays that followed as painfully lonely, and that he became increasinglyintroverted.
Rob had always made it clear that he did not want toshare his activities with his younger brother, but he must have sensed Jack'sneed. He responded with a surprising amount of sympathy, encouraging Jack to joinhim in neighborhood games and on fishing trips. The wonderful bond created fromJack's loss was a surprise, like splitting open a rock and finding geode crystalscrouching inside. When the brothers were together, their happiness sparkled andshone through all their actions.
Many years later, during their annualfishing trip, the brothers got into a vicious quarrel. As an apology, Jack boughtthe expensive lure Rob had wanted. When he returned to their fishing cabin,however, he found Rob had left without him. The brothers couldn't fully forgiveeach other, and their relationship never recovered. Rob decided to attend collegein Florida, where he remained. Through the years there were a few visits, but theargument between them from so long ago still hung in the air.
The planebumped abruptly, and the "Fasten Seat belt" sign lit up. Jack wasjolted out of the past, as a single gecko somersaulted in his stomach. Othersbegan a light skittering. Choosing to ignore them, Jack returned to his thoughts.Wouldn't it have been strange ... If Brian had never moved, Rob and I never wouldhave had the chance to become friends. But then, we wouldn't have had that fight,either.
Jack remembered his dream, the loss and the loneliness he'd felt.Rob had stepped in front of the wave of depression that had threatened to engulfhim, and commanded it down. He'd created an island of relief. Jack was not evensure he had ever expressed his gratitude to his brother, which made him trulysorry about the distance that had grown between them.
Jack realized hehad been given a chance to return the love Rob had shown him. He could not, andwould not, just show up at the funeral. The pilot announced the plane's descent,and Jack knew that on his next flight he would not be alone. At home, Rob's lurehad been waiting all those years for the chance to take another fishing trip.