The Long Flight Home—CHAPTER TWENTY-SIX

BOOBIES MAKE A LIFE-CHANGING DECISION

Without waiting for a response from Talli, Dooley stormed over to the rock where they would be out of earshot and spun around assertively. Talli stood between Dooley and Dylan, who looked on, puzzled. After a brief moment, Talli followed his brother to the rock.

“What’s all this about, Talli?” Dooley challenged.

Dooley looks from Talli to Dylan. Dylan was standing small and vulnerable. Turning his attention back to Talli, he said, “Read the history books, Talli. Amelia Earhart was never rescued. Never, he repeated “As in to this day, no human can tell you whatever happened to her eighty years later.”

“Except we just rescued her,” Talli countered. “What if we appeared to humans this time and we changed the outcome?” he asked.

“If we alter history, we’ll never find the maelstrom again.” Dooley responded as he looked from Talli to Dylan who had walked to the water’s edge, scanning the sky.

“Yeah,” Talli answered. “We have no control of anything but what we do here and now . . . just think how disappointed she’s gonna be, all alone. Out here in the middle of the ocean.”

“Great,” Dooley observed. “My brother is a sucker for red feet.”

“C’mon, Dooley,” Talli argued. “Even if we find the maelstrom again, it’s not like we’re ever gonna get back to our own time.”

“You don’t know that,” responded.

“And neither do you,” Talli replied. “Right now, at least we’re in the Pacific, near our own time. Tomorrow, who knows? We might be dodging icebergs or fighting pirates or whatever’s gonna happen two hundred years from now?”

Dooley took a deep breath as he considered Talli’s argument. After a long moment of silence, he shook his head. “I’ve gotta try to get back, Talli,” he replied soberly.

“How many times do we have to dive into a maelstrom before you admit we’ll never see our family and friends again?” Talli quizzed.

“As many times as it takes,” replied Dooley.

“What if I can’t keep doing it?” Talli asked.

Dooley flared anger. “Then you’re a . . .” He stopped mid-rant and considered everything Talli just said. Quietly, he conceded. “You’re right,” he acknowledged. “You’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do.”

Talli breathed a sigh of relief. “Really?” he asked. “You’re okay with it.”

“If you want to stop risking your life so I can get home, I respect that,” Dooley answered.  “I’ve been thinking about me all this time and not about you.” He paused a moment before saying, “Sorry, Bro.”

“So, we’re agreed? I’m staying here?” Talli asked.

Dooley nodded his head. “Absolutely,” he confirmed.

As Dooley and Talli walked back toward Dylan, Talli noticed that Dooley seemed upset. “You okay, Dooley?” he asked.

Dooley nodded and fought back a tear that was trying to break loose from his right eye. “You know, once I dive into the maelstrom, there’s no coming back,” he said with finality. “We’ll never see each other again.”

Talli put a wing around Dooley’s shoulder. “I know, Dooley. I’m gonna miss you. You were the best big brother any boobie could’ve ever asked for.”

“I don’t know what I’m gonna do without you,” Dooley stated, his heart breaking.

“Hey, you’ve got Conley and Haley,” Talli reminded him. “They need you.”

“Man, this isn’t easy,” Dooley admitted, choking up. “I never saw it coming. Never thought we’d ever be apart.”

“You always told me that no boobie was ever really gone as long as someone remembers him. I’ll never forget you, Dooley,” Talli assured him. “I’ll tell my kids about you.”

“Kids?” Dooley teased. “You really are a sucker for red feet.”

Embarrassed, Talli just said, “C’mon. Stop that.”

“Just kiddin’ with you, Tal,” Dooley laughed. “She’s one determined boobie.”

When Dooley and Talli reached Dylan, she asked, “So, what’s going on, guys?”

Dooley stepped forward and put a wing on Talli’s shoulder as he announced, “Talli has volunteered to stay here with you and help with the, uh, rescue.” Then he added, “I’ve gotta head home.”

Talli turned to Dylan and asked, “That okay with you?”

Dylan answered immediately, “Well, uh, sure. Thanks.”

Dooley nodded once. “Okay, that settles it,” he said. He turned to Talli. “Love ya, Bro.”

Talli nodded agreement. ”Love you, Dooley.”

Dooley turned to Dylan. “Take care of him. He’s a special guy.” Without another word, choking back emotion, Dooley awkwardly took off and headed out over the Pacific.

Talli and Dylan watched Dooley fly away. Dylan turned to Talli. “Why?” she asked.

“Staying with you seems like the right thing to do,” he said simply.

“That’s the definition of a hero, you know,” she said. “Doing the right thing at the right time for the right reasons, no matter the consequences.”

Talli nodded, somewhat embarrassed. “If I’m any kind of a hero,” he said. “I learned it from my big brother.”

Talli looked off into the sky in the direction Dooley flew. He sees nothing but beautiful blue sky. As he turned back to Dylan she playfully teased, “I guess now’s as good a time as any. Let’s see that mating dance.”

Talli just stood there frozen in fear.

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