Squire’s Isle Created by Geonn Cannon

Flight Plan

Summary: Jill is less than thrilled when Michael reveals his plans for the future.

When Michael came home from work, he found Jill in the small nook off the kitchen she had appropriated as her home office. She glanced up when he stopped in the doorway and saved her work on the syllabus she’d been preparing. “Hi, sweetie. Everything okay?”

“Sort of. Can we talk?”

“Sure.” She turned her chair to face him while he sat on one of the boxes they had yet to unpack. “Everything okay?”

“Yeah. I mean, I guess so. Work is fine. But Callie came by at the end of the shift and told me she got denied the scholarship she had been counting on.”

Jill felt crushed. “Oh, wow. That’s awful. Is she okay?”

“She’s taking it well. Nothing she can really do about it, but she’s kind of disappointed.”

Jill nodded. She knew money was tight with Callie’s family, and without the scholarship college would be next to impossible. “Does she have a Plan B?”

“Kind of.” He looked down at his shoes and Jill braced herself for the bomb to drop. “She’s decided that she’s not going to college. She was mainly going to learn about photography, right? And she is getting an on-the-job education at Butler, plus she has Miss Bronwyn acting as her mentor. So she’s decided not to blow her savings and go into debt just to get a degree.”

“Oh.” Jill sat up straighter and scratched her neck just above her collar. “Well… I suppose that’s a viable option.”

“Yeah. It’ll be a big relief to her family. Plus she feels like she’s getting a better education from Nicole – Miss Bronwyn – than she can get at U-Dub anyway.”

Jill nodded to show her support, even though she was still a bit dubious about the plan. “It’ll be good for you guys, too. You won’t have to worry about a long-distance relationship where she’d be going off to college a year before you go. But then when you leave…” Michael suddenly tensed and Jill paused. “What? You are still going to college, right?”

“I want to be a pilot. Miss Gray says she’d be willing to take me up for lessons, and there’s a flight school where I could get certified. It would be a heck of a lot less expensive than going to college and paying for a bunch of classes I don’t need.”

The front door opened and closed, and Patricia appeared in the doorway of the nook. She looked exhausted but she managed a smile. “Two-and-a-half of my favorite people.” She looked at Michael, then Jill. “Uh-oh. I guess we’re not discussing dinner in here. Everything okay?”

Jill ran her hands over her thighs. “Callie didn’t get her scholarship.”

Patricia exhaled and rubbed Michael’s shoulder. “Aw, I’m sorry, champ. I’m sure she’ll figure something out. She has a whole year before she graduates, so…”

“She already has something figured out. She’s going to skip college altogether. She’s going to get an education from the Butlers and Nicole Bronwyn.”

Patricia raised her eyebrows. “Oh! That’s actually a good plan.”

Jill stared at her, eyes wide in disbelief. Patricia returned the stare and then shrugged. “It’s not necessary for everyone. And it’s gotten so expensive that a lot of kids are deciding to just skip it altogether. It’s not a necessity anymore.”

“Michael also wants to skip it.”

Patricia looked at him. “You do? What’s the alternate?”

“Flight school and lessons with Elena Gray.”

“Oh. I think that’s something we can discuss.”

Michael said, “I know you’ve both been saving for my college, but I thought… flight school is a lot less expensive, right? So the rest of the college fund can go to the new baby.”

Patricia smiled and bent down to kiss the top of his head. “That sounds like a great idea, honey. But we still need to talk about it, okay? So don’t start applying to flight schools just yet, okay?”

“Okay.”

“Why don’t you go into the kitchen and see what we can have for dinner, okay? I’ll be there in a second to help you scrounge.”

He picked up his bag and slipped out of the room. Patricia waited until he was gone before she looked at Jill.

“Okay… what?”

Jill stood, bracing a hand in the small of her back. She was six months pregnant, and her belly was starting to feel like a separate person already. “You really think flight school ‘sounds like something we can discuss’? He should go to college, Trish.”

“Why?”

Jill stared as she waited for the rest of the argument. When she realized it wasn’t coming she laughed. “Why? To complete his education! College isn’t just about training for the job you think you want. It’s for learning, making sure you’re a well-rounded person. You go to college to expand your horizons and meet new people–“

“Get high in your dorm room, have sex with a lot of new and interesting people…”

Jill glared. “Partly, yes. An important part of the college experience is getting away from your parents for the first time.”

“So the cost of that is four years and a student loan debt he’ll struggle under his entire life? You paid yours off early, but Michael might not be so lucky. If he comes up with a plan that gets him a career, what does it matter if he has a degree or not? He’ll be a certified pilot. Living on the island, that’s a necessity that will never go away. At least not until we get flying cars and jetpacks.”

Jill shook her head. “I’m glad this is such a joke to you.”

“It’s not. It’s our son’s life, Jill. I’m willing to accept you’re right and that college is a necessary evil. But I don’t think it is. I didn’t graduate college and now I’m the mayor. That’s a fluke and hardly the norm, but the world we live in… I don’t see the need to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars just so he can fall asleep in a History class.”

“And what if he doesn’t make the cut as a pilot? What if he just doesn’t have whatever it takes? He won’t have anything to fall back on.”

“He can take some time to figure things out. A year off never killed anyone.”

“This is Michael’s education. I can’t… I hate the idea of anyone just skipping part of their education just because it’s too expensive or inconvenient.”

Patricia stepped into the room and put her hands on Jill’s arms. “I know. But he’s not skipping anything, he’s just taking a different path. As for getting away from the world he grew up in, flight school is on the mainland. We can use some of the money we saved for tuition and lease him an apartment.”

Jill shuddered. “Now there’s a scary thought.”

Patricia smiled and kissed her wife. “He got old quick, didn’t he?”

“So quick.” She sighed and looked down. “And we’re about to start all over at the beginning again. Do you think this one will go as fast?”

“I think she’ll go even faster.”

Jill rested her forehead against Patricia’s. “Sometimes I’m still blown away that you let me have a say in Michael’s future.”

“He’s your son, too.”

“I know. But sometimes that’s what blows me away. He’s mine, I’m his mother… I have a family.” She sniffled. “I want him to go to college. But if you and he both have other plans…” She sighed and looked toward the kitchen. “I couldn’t wait to start college, but I was going to become a teacher. I knew what I wanted from day one. Michael knows what he wants, too. I would be foolish to stand in his way. After all, he’s a Hood-Colby. Hood-Colbys always get what they want.”

Patricia put one arm around Jill’s waist and her other hand on Jill’s stomach. “Yes, we do. Come on, let’s go see what he found us for dinner.”

Jill rested her head on Patricia’s shoulder as she was guided into the kitchen. She still wasn’t too thrilled with the fact Michael would never be a college graduate, but Patricia was right. There were other options now. She had a feeling he would wind up just fine.

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