I found out my neighbouring city has a flight simulation centre that does TOP GUN experiences. I admit that it’s probably not the most appropriate activity for a middle-aged mother of two, but it brought me back to that day in 1989 when I got my hands on the VHS video for the first time. I would play it over and over while I pretended that I was controlling the F-14’s with my scientific calculator, and I’d lean up against the kitchen counter with a pair of cheap plastic sunglasses on, drinking tap water from an egg cup like Iceman did vodka in the bar scene, from a shot glass though, not an egg cup, god, he was super cool. When I grew up, I wanted to be a badass like Iceman, so as soon as I turned sixteen, I went to sign up for the Royal Air Force and told them I wanted to fly jets. They took one look at this chubby autistic kid with crazy hair, dressed entirely in white denim and laughed me out of the office. Mum said I had to be mature, I had to be realistic. I went to college and learned business and own a joke shop at the seaside now. Fake poo is my best seller, it’s very popular with caravaners, and golfers.
They have real life pilots teach you how to control the console at the simulation centre, so it must be just like the real thing. F-14’s can fly at 2485 km/hr, that’s twice as fast as the speed of sound. Sometimes, when I’m alone, I floor it in my mini metro and zoom along listening to Kenny Loggins, it’s so cool. They give you a flight suit and you can choose a call sign too. Imagine that! I could be called Tornado or Hyperdrive or something and not just Carol. I’d probably just crash and burn anyway, then the instructors at the centre would laugh at me, besides, the g-force alone would play havoc with my pelvic floor, I mean, I pissed myself on a roller coaster once, imagine if that happened when I was in an inverted dive with a MIG-28. The olive drab colour of those flight suits won’t camouflage a wet patch either. I’d be call sign ‘Tena lady’ for the rest of my days. It costs £70 too, and I have to pay an invoice for a cargo of rubber dog shit from Hong Kong. No, I don’t think I’ll go. I’ve got to be mature; I’ve got to be realistic.
Claire Hampton is a neurodivergent fiction writer from Teesside. Her work has been published/is upcoming in Versification, The Daily Drunk, Crow & Cross Keys, Full House Literary Magazine, Selcouth Station Press, Imperial death Cult, and the Writers Retreat U.K Anthology.