Chapter One: Loss of Blue Skies:
Dreams never really die. They may change over time, but they never really die. Sometimes, they come back in ways the dreamer doesn’t expect. Ten-year-old Joanna was about to learn all of this in the summer that she spent on her late grandmother’s villa in the French countryside.
Joe was a gloomy kid in the beginning. She saw too much death around her at such a young age. Her parents died in a car accident when she was only two years old. As a result, her high-spirited grandmother took her in. Initially, the old woman didn’t know how to cheer up the little girl. She bought Joe am antique doll house when on her third birthday, but it did little sway her. The doll house sat in the corner of the child’s room, untouched and collecting dust.
When the child turned four, the grandmother tried to get her to play the piano after watching one of her favorite artists play for a concert in America on TV. The old lady uncovered her own piano in the parlor room and dusted it off. She even opted to teach her granddaughter herself. Little Joe didn’t take to the piano at all. The grandmother searched in her head for the right answer.
When her grandchild turned five, the grandmother bought her a puppy. At first, Joe began to cheer up at the site of the little barbet in the cardboard box. The little dog followed the child everywhere around the villa. However in less than two weeks, Joe went back to her gloomy ways. Still, her grandmother wouldn’t give up on making that child smile once more.
One day, she decided to take little Joe to the air park. The grandmother figured if this didn’t work, nothing would. The child kept her eyes to the ground as she and the wild old lady walked through the iron gates. Her grandmother breathed in the air around them.
“I miss coming here!” she said aloud. The old lady turned to her gloomy grandchild. “I met your grandfather here, you know?” Joe didn’t even lift her head for a response. Her grandmother tightened up her determination.
“Come with me,” she said. “I want to show you something beautiful.” The little girl had to be led away by her with her grandmother further into the air park. The old lady smiled to herself for she knew this trick never failed her once to impress.
“Just a little bit longer,” she said. “You’re really going to love this.” The child slowly lifted her head when she and her grandmother stopped moving. A miracle filled her eyes. This beauty of a monster sat perched up its stand to be displayed to everyone in the air park. Joe’s little scarlet eyes grew wide at the heavy grey steel over her head.
“Whoa!” she mouthed. Her grandmother stood next to her, smiling.
“Magnificent, isn’t she?” she asked. The little girl nodded with her jaw wide open. Her grandmother knelt down beside her. “She’s called the Northrop Grumman E-2 Hawkeye.”
“It’s big!” Joe said with a gasp.
“Yes, she is,” her grandmother replied. She leaned in close to the child’s ear. “Would you like to see more like this one?” Little Joe looked at her, amazed.
“There’s more here?” she asked.
“Why yes,” her grandmother answered. “Come along with me.” The old lady led the child further into the park. Joe perked up when she saw the various airplanes on their perches. As they walked around, looking, the grandmother remembered that the child’s parents both loved airplanes before they died. Suddenly, a light went off in the old lady’s hand.
Why didn’t I think of this before? The grandmother looked down at little Joe. “Would you like to go into the museum?” she asked.
“Yes!” the little girl exclaimed. Grandmother and grandchild raced all the way up to the museum. An old man dressed in a soldier’s uniform greeted them at the door.
“Good morning, ladies!” he said.
“Hello, Matthieu,” the grandmother replied with a wave. The old man in the uniform looked down at the little girl next to his dear old friend.
“And who’s this little lady here?” he asked. The old lady’s smile reflected the pride that she had for the child in question.
“This is my granddaughter, Joe,” she bragged. The child hid behind the old lady with little pink cheeks. Her grandmother chuckled at her reaction. “Don’t mind her,” she said. “She’s just a little bit shy.” Matthieu chuckled like Santa Claus.
“I see,” he said. “Come on in.” The old man moved aside to let in his guests. Joe had a dizzying time around the museum. She had never seen so much about airplanes before in her life. Her grandmother stood back and watched Joe’s smile outshine the whole room. She finally accomplished what she set out to do four years ago. I didn’t expect her to have such a pretty smile on her cute little face, the old lady thought. I really like it, though. She wanted to see that child’s smile more often. Suddenly, Joe raced up to her grandmother.
“Yes, sweet pea?” the old lady asked. The little girl looked at her with big eyes.
“Did you used to fly planes?” she asked. Her grandmother gave her a smile full of nostalgic pride.
“They didn’t call me the ‘Flying Duchess’ for nothing in my day!” she said aloud. Joe gave her a confused look.
“Flying Duchess?” she asked. The grandmother flexed her arm.
“I was an ace in my younger years,” she said. Little Joe grabbed her by her jeans.
“Can I go flying with you sometime?” she asked. Her grandmother laughed as she patted her on the head.
“Of course we can,” she said. Joe’s smile was enough to melt the hearts around her.
However, it came to an end when Joe’s grandmother died a year later. Four years later, it would be up to Matthieu to help that dream come back to life.