I never wanted to teach him to drive. It’s not easy, driving, and I think people should learn the good habits before they learn the bad. But I learned on the job and the world’s a different place now.

Funny expression that. Especially in this context. Huh.

“Are you belted in?”

“Yes Dad.” It was in that tone that billions of parents have heard and learned to loath. When did I become such a non-entity. Who’s teaching who here boychik? You gotta few million miles to put on before that tone is justified. Come talk to me then.

Of course I’ll be old and senile when that happens and it won’t occur to him to treat his senile, dried up old husk of a father any other way. So he’ll be polite. Solicitous even. Respect through pity… that’s all I get.

“Make sure you have the seat adjust properly. It’s  safer and a lot more comfortable. Trust me.”

“I did Dad.” What happened to that laughing baby? That smiling boy that lit up a room? God, you were a charmer; everyone said so. I hope I’m there when you get it back. I hope it’s not gone from our lives quite yet.

I take a deep breath and double check everything. Letting go is hard.

“Ok. Looks good. I guess I’m ready when you are.”

He looks over at me quickly, not quite willing to meet my eyes, no attempt at reassurance. Just a quick glance to make sure I am not going to change my mind. No doubt in his mind. It’s my fear that’s holding him back; preventing him from growing into the man he already thinks he is. My fear. My understanding of statistics and probabilities. My years of observing and avoiding accidents and my knowledge of the horrific fates of so many, less-fortunate, others who’s ashes are now scattered to the winds.

Suck it up. Be a man. Let go the leash and allow the hounds of fate loose to fly…

He reaches forward with his left hand and disengages the brakes: the safeties; and then he rests his head into the cradle of the high tech headrest. A quick, studied flick of his right hand starts engine and with a second flick I feel my entire body pressing back into the seat.

No turning back now.

I look over at him and I see it. Just a hint at the edges of his eyes. That smile.

I grab the RAM and key the mic. “Moon Control, Moon Control, Moon Control, this is Orbital Launch Laughing Baby. We are out bound heading 240° darkward for a training flight. Estimated return one hour thirty.”