At First … the Flight (from Life IS a Fairytale)
Cerise threw her Barnes and Noble canvas bag on top of her overstuffed suitcase along with her purse and jacket. She grabbed the handle of her wheeled carry-on and dragged them both over to the check-in desk. For once in her life, she had arrived at the airport two-and-a-half hours before her flight’s departure. She figured she’d check-in, grab a bite to eat, and find a comfy lounge chair by the big viewer window.
Security should have been a cinch. She was practically bare wearing a red bra-less halter top and a white chiffon mini-skirt which showed off her long toned legs. Her wedge- heeled flip flops flexed the quads and calves she earned from years of cross country running.
She rolled into security ready to get the trip started. She had just disassembled her belongings on the surveyor belt when a gentle hand took her by the arm . . . What the . . .? She dropped her head in disbelief . . .
This is all me, honey. She wanted to say aloud to the woman officer who used the back of her hands to check along the curves of her breasts. But, she kept her mouth shut. Nothing, nothing was going to keep her from enjoying this trip to Colorado.
She took a deep breath to let the humiliation dissipate, grabbed her stuff and moved on to check the monitors for her departure gate: Montrose, Colorado, Montrose, Colorado. Hmm. Montrose, Montrose, Montrose. Jeez.
She wasn’t seeing it up there. She finally found a 10:20 am Montrose flight, but that wasn’t hers. Maybe her flight – the 12:50 – just wasn’t up there yet. She dragged her belongings to the nearest gate counter and parked her stuff behind a young man who was being helped.
Fifteen minutes, a drum-roll was in order. Her bags were about to yank her arms out of their sockets. The agent was spending forever helping this guy – pecking on the keyboard and mumbling on the phone.
“I’ll be with you in a minute, ma’am.”
Really? One minute, or another twenty? If it wasn’t for the good looks of the guy in front of her, she would have complained. He looked about her age, twenty-fourish, about 6’0 feet tall and lean, with a little bit of chiseled muscle.
The agent put her phone on hold and asked the guy to step aside, then turned her gaze to Cerise.
“Um, I’m looking for my gate to Montrose at 12:50.”
She could see the guy out of the corner of her eye. He looked up from his cellphone, chuckled, then leaned his back against the counter.
The agent furrowed her brow. “That’s the flight I’m helping this gentleman with. It has just been cancelled.”
This woman must not have heard her right. Cerise figured she’d better be more clear: “The Montrose flight leaving at 12:50 today . . . uh, in a couple of hours.”
“I heard you right, ma’am. That flight is cancelled.” The agent reached for Cerise’s ticket and went on to carry on a conversation with whomever was on the phone.
“Yep, join the party.” the guy said, his eyes aimed down at his cellphone.
Cerise let everything in her arms drop to the floor. She was about ready to stamp her feet.
“And so is she trying to get you on the next flight?”
“There is no next flight.” he said. “Not ’til tomorrow.”
Cerise glanced at the agent, who shook her head to shush them while she was on the phone.
Cerise waved her palm. “I’ve got, got to get on a flight today.” She stuck her head closer to the agent. “I’ve got an important meeting.”
The agent put one finger up and kept talking. Cerise rolled her eyes. The agent then hung up the phone and dialed another number. Cerise repeated her pleas.
The agent raised her eyebrows and her voice. “Ma’am, if you would let me, I’m trying to help you.”
Cerise swallowed her response and tried to hold back tears as she watched nearby passengers line up to load on their plane.
This trip had not been right from the very beginning. She had been called a week ago by the director of the Summer Writer’s Retreat who had informed her that Jean Paul Chaviot, world-renowned creator of the multi-million-dollar Stiffenings series, needed to leave for France earlier than expected. He had selected and critiqued her manuscript was supposed to discuss it with her over a $350 one- hour session. The new plan was to meet with her a few days earlier so that he could leave. This flight was paid for by the retreat and was three days before its actual start date.
The agent finally hung up the phone. In a haste she pecked on the keyboard and printed out a couple of tickets. “Okay, there is a flight leaving for Montrose right now with two available seats, and the pilot is willing to hold take-off. But ya’ll got to get to the gate, right now. They have already boarded and are just waiting on you.”
“There’s no later flight?”
What about the bags she had checked-in? The agent snapped her fingers at a clerk standing nearby to drive them to the gate and ordered him to hurry. He sped her and the cute guy along the corridor to a gate certainly not walking distance. He stopped, let them out, helped Cerise unload her stuff and drove off.
The waiting area was empty with just an agent working at the counter. The cute guy approached the agent and handed her his boarding pass.
“We’re supposed to be getting on the Montrose flight.” he said.
The woman looked at him confused.
He widened his eyes and tilted his head towards the closed gate door. “Ma’am, c’mon they’re waiting for us.”
“Sir, you are at the wrong gate. There’s no plane here,” she said and then just blinked her eyes. He and Cerise stood stunned, practically incapable of any reaction other than blinking back at her. The woman finally had the wherewithall to check the computer. “Okay, that flight is leaving from 20B, this is 12B and oh goodness, they’re set for take off any m –. ”
“Shit!” The guy grabbed his boarding pass and took off running in that direction.
Cerise couldn’t believe this was happening. Ugh that driver! She struggled to keep up with this guy as he was running fast. Her fancy sandals weren’t cutting it. She yanked them off her feet and ran barefoot. It wasn’t until gate 18 that he turned around to see if she was keeping up.
“Come on!” he shouted, then kept running. An agent was waiting for them at the counter of gate 20. He handed her his boarding pass then stood holding the gate door open until Cerise reached him. He took her B&N bag and her jacket. They scuffled down the corridor with the plane’s engine roaring in their ears.
The stewardess at the plane’s entry anxiously waved them in as they approached.
“Come on, come on, you guys, the pilot is getting antsy.” She reached for their things and directed them to first class. “Just take a seat, and buckle in.” She rolled their things into an alcove covered by a curtain.
“We made it,” the young man said blushing as he stepped aside for Cerise. She took the window seat. Once he sat down he stretched his arms on the cushioned armrests. He leaned over to her and smiled, “First class. This is retribution for all that, huh?”
Josie dropped her shoulders and sighed. What the hell just happened?
“Welcome passengers to Flight 701 to Montrose, Colorado . . . ”