lyssie: (Always have a Plan B)
[personal profile] lyssie posting in [community profile] st_trinians
Disclaimer: not mine
Length: 1500 words
Rating: PG, if that.
Genre: gen
Recipient: [personal profile] scintilla10
Character: Annabelle
Prompt: It's never too late for a first time.
Notes: so, I ended up veering wildly away from my initial idea, scrapping the second thought, and then writing this sprawling bit of nonsense. That has flying in it, but not the wing!fic type. And it's only loosely a 'never too late'. (my other thought was to go for porn, but I think my porn-writing days are either long gone or taking a holiday) (also: everything I know about sky-diving and cricket could fit on the head of a pin)

Only the Mad Survive
by ALC Punk!

"This is ridiculous," Annabelle objected. The words were more rote than forceful, however. They got that way, when repeated several times over the course of a week. "I don't need to do this, Auntie!"

"Of course you do, dear. I should have made this part of last year's curriculum for you." Bluff and caring as always, there was a certain sparkle in Aunt Fritton's eyes as they approached to plane chosen for that day's expedition.

At least the weather was cooporating, being neither freezing nor overly warm. It wasn't even threatening rain. The grass was a lovely shade of green (the First Years were experimenting with fertilizer again) as it edged the tarmac, and Annabelle thought of kicking at it to demonstrate her dissatisfaction. Which would be childish of her.

"I'm not going to become some jet-setting, record-breaking pilot, Auntie," she said, trying to keep the whine from her voice.

Though, better it be a whine than the terror that was slowly filling her gut as she got a better look at the plane her aunt had bought on eBay with the help of some Geek investment advice.

It wasn't the most broken-down thing Annabelle had ever seen (parts of St. Trinian's itself still had that record--no one had used the third-floor stairs on the west side of the building in at least a decade, though attempts at shoring up the jumble had been tried over the years), but there was something terrifying about knowing that she was going to be flying inside of it and jumping out of it.

Possibly, the fact that the pilot looked like she was already drunk didn't help.

"Margot, dear, this is Annabelle."

The grey threading Margot's dark hair suggested she'd been a contemporary of Aunt Fritton, but for once, Annabelle wasn't interested in digging into her aunt's past. She licked her lips and stared at the plane, trying to remember what type it was ("If you're going to jump out of one, might as well know the specs--you might not always have the time for such niceties." And what Auntie had meant about that, Annabelle hadn't been able to pry from her)

"Hullo, Annabelle. Don't let her looks fool you, the Trieste is as sound as a pound." To demonstrate, Margot thumped the side of the plane with her fist. Something inside rattled.

Maybe now would be a good time to remember she was about to be violently sick?

But Annabelle didn't get chance to suggest such a thing, as Auntie swept her up into last-minute safety checks of their equipment. Last night, she'd had to fold and roll her parachute into a smallish mass, and hope that her lines wouldn't get tangled as she stowed it in the pack.

Then it was into the plane, the rickety cargo area feeling less sturdy by the moment as Margot and Auntie ran pre-checks and traded comments about 'old times' that Annabelle tried to concentrate on in lieu of jumping back out before they'd left the ground. It would be all right, it had to be. What were the statistics on plane crashes? Less every year than car crashes--or was it the other way round?

Annabelle shoved that thought away and began reciting plane classifications, then switched to cricket stats when she realized it wasn't helping.

Lost in a maze of over-unders, she barely noticed as the Trieste rattled down the makeshift runway and lifted into the air.

Her stomach was wrenched one way, and her body rose upwards inside the beast. Annabelle stared at the gently-sloping metal wall opposite her, and fancied that if they dropped now, she'd hit the ground before her innards. "Is it always like this?"

The words went unnoticed, lost in the general growl of the engines and roar of the air as they slipped through the sky in huge, sweeping turns until she was quite uncertain where they had lifted from when she managed to twist and look out the tiny window above her head.

When Auntie had proposed the idea, Annabelle had hesitantly suggested that jumping from a stationary plane on the ground was one of the early training steps she had read about in some novel. But Auntie had pshawed at the very idea, and said something about throwing the baby out with the bathwater as being the most useful way to teach someone to jump from a plane.

Annabelle was very much worried that, as the baby, she was going to hit the ground at a tremendous rate and go splat.

The movement of the plane seemed to settle down to a constant, with only the occasional rattle, and she slowly got to her feet in order to look out the window better. The ground below seemed to be a patchwork of fields and tiny buildings, stripes of roads and the glint and shimmer of the occasional water-way.

It wasn't anything she hadn't seen from a jet window before.

Movement from the corner of her eye brought Auntie into the hold, mouth moving.

"I can't hear you!" Annabelle shouted over the sound of the engines and the roar of the wind, as best she could.

Her aunt mimed pulling the rip cord, then tugged on the straps of her own chute.

Ah. Last-last minute checks. Suddenly, every worry she'd ever had boiled over. "I can't do this!"

"Nonsense!" Auntie was close enough to be heard as she reached out and caught the dangling cord on Annabelle's strap and snapped it onto the rusty-looking ring set into the wall of the plane. "You'll be marvelous! Hang on, now!"

Annabelle grabbed one of the bars spaced along the wall and held on for dear life as her aunt opened the bay door of the plane. Wind whipped in, wrapping round her legs and messing up the very carefully-arranged coiffure that had been Posh Totty approved that very morning in honor of her jump.

"It's always best--" Whatever Auntie had been saying was lost in a surge of wind and engine noise.

Holding out one hand, Annabelle felt her aunt take it, as though in encouragement. "I have to sit down," Annabelle shouted, feeling her stomach finally catching up with her as the plane wobbled a bit. She released the handle, sure her aunt would hold onto her.

There was a sudden rush of wind and movement, and Annabelle found that Auntie had swung her out into the open air and let go.

Annabelle screamed, and doubted anyone could hear.

Managing to hold onto the memory of Auntie's instructions on jumping through her sheer terror, Annabelle let herself fall, praying she was falling the right way and wouldn't smack into any part of the plane. Already, though, she could see the silver-rust of the giant bird sliding away from her as she seemed to hang suspended in the air.

A great jerk pulled the initial stage of her chute free, and Annabelle started counting as she turned to face the earth far below.

"One one thousand--" the wind whipped the words away, and she wished she'd thought to wrap a scarf around her face. The goggles borrowed from the chemistry lab were working wonders at keeping her eyes safe.

There was something terrifying and heart-rending and amazing about floating in the air with nothing holding her up or down. Annabelle watched the greens and greys of the patchwork far below, and reached the end of her countdown.

Her fingers were almost too stiff to tighten around the cord and then she was pulling it, her chute tumbling free, blessedly untangled. It belled out behind her, caught the wind and she was suddenly suspended. Flying. She was flying, soaring and twirling far above the world. Laughter bubbled out of her, probably brought on by the hysteria that had been surging to the surface since she first exited the Trieste.

The giggles were ripped away by the wind, and she fell silent again, eyes wide to drink in every detail of her descent.

It wasn't until she was approaching the field that she began to wonder if her aunt had made a safe jump.

Turning to face the sky she'd recently been falling through, Annabelle spotted the majestic blue of Auntie's chute.

"Not dead after all," she murmured before returning to the business of getting herself onto the ground without breaking anything. Luckily, one of the first things any St. Trinian's girl learned was how to take a tumble without wrecking a nail.

Annabelle ended up with nothing more than a mouthful of grass and her chute tangled in a bush behind her.

-f-
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School for Young Ladies

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St. Trinian's prepares it's girls for the world. But who prepares the world for St. Trinian's?

January 2015

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