Karen Sorenson-Phlatt reclined in the lounge chair on their lanai, long blonde hair pulled up behind her head. Her tablet in hand, eighteen month-old daughter Alie playing nearby, she soaked up the first wisps of cool evening breeze. At some point she'd pull on a coverup. At the moment, a jog bra and shorts suited her just fine.
Beside her, husband Adam stared at his pad. His twice-annual flight review lay just weeks ahead. No doubt he was studying checklists, or absorbing yet another schematic of the hydraulic system of a Boeing 737. Since landing the job with Southwest Airlines, it seemed studying was all he did. Still, he was fit and strong, bands of dense arm muscles rippling when he adjusted his chair.
"How was your day?" she asked, sipping iced tea.
"Busy," Adam replied, setting his device on his lap. "The weather in Denver sucked. I think we added two hundred miles to our flight path today. Burned a lot of jet fuel weaving in and out of thunderstorms."
"Just so you got home safe. Captain okay?"
"Yeah. Good pilot. Funny." A chuckle, maybe remembering a cockpit moment they'd shared. "You?"
"I have a lead on the dead girl in Portland. I may be flying to Baltimore next week."
"Yeah." She hesitated. "Did you see any of the convention today?"
Adam's eyebrows twitched. He gazed at his tablet for a long time, but did not seem to lock his eyes on it.
Alie ran up to him, pure white pig tails swaying as she toddled along. She had something in her hand...a purple sock. A flick of the wrist and it landed square on her dad's device. Giggling, she turned and headed away.
Dad lifted the treasure off his lap, examining it as though he'd never seen it, or even one like it, before. Alie stopped, made her way back to him and snatched it from his hand. Away she went.
This went on for several minutes, her daughter delighting in her father's participation. They were two peas, alright. Neither of them would tire of the game, teasing and laughing with the same mischievous tone. Eventually, the little one would hide the article, the better to get Adam out of the chair and into the next phase of the contest. Finally, a bug of some sort diverted her attention.
"We listened to some of it in the shuttle bus," Adam said.
"You know what I think of her. I'm not changing my mind about that."
"Dada?" Alie peered carefully at the insect crawling across red flagstone. her faced filled with curiosity. Her button nose, pressed close, wriggled.
Adam knelt next to her. Father and daughter. A bug.
"It used to be sort of theoretical," he said, standing. "Now, there is no job in this country Alie cannot have, if she wants it badly enough. That's something, huh?"
Yeah. It was something.