Thirteen-year old Brian Robeson, the sole passenger on a small plane from Hampton, New York to the north woods of Canada, boards the aircraft excited at the notion of flying in a single-engine plane. After the novelty of the experience passes, Brian returns to his thoughts of his parents' recent divorce. Brian recalls the fights between his parents and his hatred for the lawyers who attempt to cheerfully explain to him how the divorce will affect his life. What Brian calls "The Secret" also enters his consciousness, and at this point we do not know to what "The Secret" refers. Brian feels the burn of tears come to his eyes, but does not cry, making certain to guard his eyes from the pilot, whose name Brian cannot exactly remember. He suspects it is Jim or Jake, a man in his mid-forties who has been virtually silent during the ride. Seeing Brian marvel at the complexity of the control panel in front of him, the pilot offers him a chance to fly the plane himself. Initially reluctant, Brian declines the offer. Upon the pilot's insistence, he takes the wheel and for a few minutes has complete control of the plane. The pilot remarks on some pain in his shoulder as Brian once again recalls the details of the divorce. Brian's father knows that his mother wants a divorce, but his father has no idea why nor does he favor the split. The court has decided that Brian will live with his mother during the school year and with his father during the summer. The plane jerks, awakening Brian from his thoughts. He notices the smell of body gas in the plane and assumes the pilot had a stomachache. He also seems to be experiencing increasing pains in his shoulder and arm. The divorce one month behind him, Brian is heading north to visit his father and to bring him some special equipment from New York. A mechanical engineer, his father has perfected a new drill bit for oil drilling. Brian recalls the long ride from the city to Hampton to meet the plane, during which Brian's mother had tried to convince him to tell her what was wrong, but he felt he could not tell her that he knew "the secret." When they had arrived in Hampton, his mother gave him a hatchet to use in the woods during the summer. Sensing that his mother felt particularly vulnerable, Brian had humored her by attaching the hatchet to his belt, where remained for the duration of the plane ride.