Harmony settled the goggles over her eyes and drew in a deep breath. She couldn’t wait to get Airus into the air. There was something about flying that calmed her soul like nothing else, but because of some much needed repairs, it had been weeks since her last flight.
“Are you all settled?” She waited for Boy to stop squirming in the co-captain’s chair and to acknowledge her. The two of them were perfect traveling companions; both cantankerous and full of foul language. The truth was, no one wanted to travel with either of them, they were so hard to get along with.
The robot finally stopped his fidgeting. “All set.”
She quirked an eyebrow and waited. They’d traveled together too many times for her not to know when things weren’t up to Boy’s standards. It didn’t take long to learn what was bothering him.
“Why is this damn chair so crooked? Did you let Turner tinker with it again?” He slid out of it and kicked its pedestal. “Damn kids. They aren’t happy until they’ve destroyed everything.”
Harmony removed her goggles and hat, and set them on the captain’s chair. “Stand up.” When the robot was out of the way, she bent and adjusted the knob at the base of the pedestal.
Once it looked straight, she stood and patted the robot on top of his glass head. “Where did you learn to cuss like that anyway? Everyone else’s robot just says ‘yes’ and ‘no’ then goes off and does whatever it is was they were commanded to do, but not you, oh no. You have to cuss and complain about every little thing.”
Boy didn’t answer but did do a slow blink that clearly said she’d overstepped the mark. Her grandmother, Liberty, had inherited the child-like robot years ago from a dying friend of her father. Harmony had inherited him and her grandmother’s airship after Liberty’s death. There were times when she wondered if Boy hadn’t accepted the fact that Liberty was dead, and believed she still captained Airus, that Harmony was nothing more than a mere child playing at being its captain. A few times, she had actually heard him talking to Liberty as if she were still here, right next to him. It was sad knowing Boy had never gotten over her death, but then Harmony missed her grandmother too, and could still feel her presence aboard the airship. Maybe Airus really did belong only to Liberty after all.
The airship hadn’t changed much since Harmony’s great-grandfather had built it. The only change was a co-captain’s chair her grandmother had added, so she and Boy could sit and talk. Everyone knew that no one, but no one, was ever allowed to sit in that chair but him. Not that the cankerous old robot would have allowed it anyway. His cussing and ranting was enough to drive the bravest heart out of it.
With his chair now straighter and more to his liking, Boy clinked pass Harmony without uttering a word and climbed back in.
Harmony hid a chuckle behind a pretend cough. How could a piece of metal, held together with nuts and bolts, get his point across so well without speaking?
“So now you’re going to sulk?” Harmony grabbed her goggles and hat, slipping both on before setting the friction engine on high.
Theirs had to be the only family in existence who cared what their robot thought, but Boy wasn’t just any old robot. Somewhere in all that metal, glass, circuit boards and wiring was a heart that held their family together. He loved them in times they didn’t love themselves. How could they not worry over what he thought? He was the glue that held them together and the heart that felt twice as much as they ever could.
“Hang on to your seat. The wind’s up today. The down drafts will bounce us around until we hit seven thousand feet.” Not bothering to look over to see whether Boy had heard or not, Harmony planted both feet in front of Airus’ controls and released steam from the drum that fed the balloon. The wind whipped at Harmony’s long, black curls, but thankfully, her hat stayed in place. She rubbed her grandmother’s pocket watch for good luck and set a course for The Forbidden Lands.