This is the second week in Sue Fairchild's A to Z Blog Challenge, featuring the popular letter B.
B is for BOOKS. Books make me happy, unless they’re poorly written, and then they BOTHER me. Misspelled words, incorrect punctuation, and whiplash POV changes make me say BYE to a book.
B is also for BROSIUS. That’s me, at least for the last 39 years and 11 months.
Today, B is mostly for a BOOK by BROSIUS, which you may now pre-order at shop.myhelpinghandspress.com. The book is Surviving Jamaica, the sequel with your favorite characters from Surviving Meemaw.
Lastly, B is for BAIT. I’m hoping by reading the first chapter of the new book, you will take the bait and buy it. So I’m including the first chapter on this very blog.
“We’ll be perfectly safe, honey. Jesus will take care of us.”
Why does Meemaw’s pronouncement from several minutes ago give me no comfort as I cling to the armrest of seat 23E, the knuckles on my right hand turning white? Oh, yeah, it’s because that’s what she says right after she plows through a red light in her taxi cab yellow PT Cruiser. Or when I mention, “You’re going the wrong way on a one-way street!”
My friendboy Joshua Gold peels my frozen fingers from the armrest. “Chill, Laney. Remember what your grandmother said—”
I cut him off even while transferring my death grip to his hand. “Yeah, yeah, I know. Jesus will take care of us.” My terror almost prevents me from quoting Meem in a sarcastic sing-song voice. Almost.
Josh has the window seat, and the bright sunlight behind him makes me squint.
“But we’re on a plane!” I wail. “This is worse than Meem’s driving. I mean…what’s even holding this monstrosity up in the air?” I never took physics, so I honestly don’t know.
“The Law of Aerodynamics,” Josh replies. “And Jesus. I’ve flown dozens of times with my parents. Flying is the safest form of transportation, safer than walking.”
I would ask him where he went those dozens of times if the Lucky Charms from my early morning breakfast weren’t undulating in my stomach like the water below us. If we crash, we’ll have to use our seats as flotation devices. It’s not really comforting to think they’ll come apart easily enough to do that.
“Just keep holding onto me,” he says. He gestures with his free hand. “Look how relaxed Calvin is.” Surprising me, I hear no annoyance in Josh’s voice. He and Calvin had some mysterious feud in their past before I knew either of them.
Calvin Berger reclines in the aisle seat, headphones in, dark hair falling on his forehead, apparently asleep.
I loosen my grip slightly thinking Josh shouldn’t get scars from fingernail impressions until his future wife gives birth. Mature, religious, rock-solid Joshua Gold will make a great husband someday. And since he got his braces off and his skin is clearing, it seems likely he will attract a girl eventually. Maybe even Kimberly, his friend since childhood for whom he secretly pines. I think Kim, my friend for only a couple of months, secretly pines back.
Josh squeezes my hand and, apparently mistaking my silence for calmness, buries his headphones into his protruding ears and directs his gaze to the movie playing on the tiny screen on the back of the seat in front of him.
I almost squeal as a hand slips around my left hand. I don’t have to look to know it’s Calvin’s hand because the zing starts in my fingertips and quickly shoots throughout my body. I look anyway and see the smirk on Calvin’s face while his eyes remain closed in fake sleep.
I usually love my boyfriend’s zing, but now it intensifies the Lucky Charms’ jig in my stomach. I eye the air sickness bag tucked in the pocket in front of the Air Mall catalog. I really don’t want to puke between the two most important guys in my life.
I grab the bag, climb over Calvin, and sprint down the narrow aisle toward the restroom, actually leaping over a small child returning to his seat. I’ll have to go out for track this year.
Thank God the little room is not occupado and the toilet lid is already up as I lose my breakfast and half my guts. I officially hate flying. When I’m pretty sure I’m done, I flush and watch the pukey blueish liquid swirl away. Where does it go? Into the ocean? Another airline mystery.
I lavez les mains—the sign is in English, French, and Spanish—and rinse my mouth at the tiny sink before exiting the restroom.
I feel tons better with an empty stomach. I proceed slowly up the aisle, trying to remember where Meemaw is sitting. I hear her excited voice before I spot her graying red curls.
“We don’t have to remain separated from God because He sent His Son Jesus to bring us back to God.”
Oh no. Meemaw has a large Jamaican man trapped between her and the window. He’s not getting off this flight without considering his soul’s eternal destiny. I could save him from Meem, but then he would know I am with her. Well, it’s not like I’m ever going to see him again….
I slip into the empty aisle seat, but before I can distract Meemaw, the man exclaims, “Praise ta Lawd, Mama! Do you love my Jesus?”
As the hallelujahs elevate, I slink away, hoping no one noticed my five
second identification with my grandmother. Internationally Embarrassed, the story of my life. I wonder who
will play me in the movie.
I squeeze past Calvin, still sleeping or feigning sleep, and settle into my seat.
“You okay?” Josh asks.
“Yeah, thanks. I think I am.”
because we are going to have an amazing time.”
“How could we not?” I reply.
How could we not? I’m going to spend ten days on a Caribbean island in the middle of February. So while everybody stuck in Central Pennsylvania is complaining about the coldest, snowiest, iciest winter in years, I’ll be enjoying eighty degree temperatures and warm sand. With my friends from school. And my boyfriend.
And my grandmother. Crud. She’s how I could not have an amazing time.
It’s not like seventy-something Meemaw could be left behind. If not for her Puppetry class at Millburgh Christian Academy, we wouldn’t be going to Jamaica. The whole senior class joined Puppetry when they found out a mission trip to Jamaica would be our senior trip. That’s only twelve kids plus me because our school is pathetically small, but I’ve realized over the last few months I’d rather be with those twelve kids than the hundred at Millburgh Area.
And then there’s Josh. He technically shouldn’t be with us though he is by far the best puppeteer. He doesn’t go to MCA, but he belongs to Meemaw’s other Puppet Team. When Meem broke her hip in November, right after she started teaching the Puppetry class in exchange for my tuition, Josh took over for her. The powers that be at Millburgh Area even let him leave school early a couple of times a week because Josh’s dad thought it would look good on a résumé.
So that’s why I’m cruising 31,000 feet above the ocean (according to the pilot, and why would he lie?) nestled between my friendboy and my boyfriend, hoping to step onto Jamaican soil instead of crashing into the cold waves.
“Look! That’s Cuba.” Josh points out the window. “We’re almost there.”
Oh, good. Maybe we’ll crash on land instead of into the water. Is that better or worse?