I clutch my Dr. Seuss-inspired tote, careful not to bump the passengers seated in first class. That’s where you should be sitting, Dad would say. And would be sitting if I’d said yes to Lieutenant Devlin.
But there’s more to life than extra legroom and a man in uniform. At least one who’s so full of himself he could pop his own brass buttons.
Someone taps my shoulder. “Pardon, ma’am.”
I grimace. Ma’am makes me sound so much older than 28.
I twist my torso so the steward can squeeze by.
“Nice bag.” He winks through black-rimmed glasses and slides sideways past me.
On the aisle seat of my row, a middle-aged man gnaws on a bag of jerky while reading Stevenson’s Kidnapped. He either has no peripheral or chooses to ignore the outline of my emerald dress.
“Excuse me, I’m A.”
He grudgingly uncrosses his legs. “Let’s hope B doesn’t show.”
A baritone voice croons over the speakers. “Welcome aboard Flight 2066 bound for Tampa. We’ve completed boarding and closed the cabin door. There are a few planes ahead of us for takeoff, but we’re right on time. My name is Kevin, and I’ll be your flight attendant along with my lovely assistants Ellie and Claire.
“For now, sit back, relax, and enjoy the safety demonstration. Drumroll, please.” He makes a ta-da-pop noise as the stewardesses appear in the aisles with their seat belts, oxygen masks, and inflatable life vests. They animate the routine to Kevin’s instructions and curtsy as he concludes, “Let’s hear it for Ellie and Claire!”
I pull out my draft book and pen with a smile.
As the plane taxis down the runway, the row behind me erupts into chaos. “Where’s your binky? Here it is!” A mom coos at her crying baby. As if on cue, another infant joins the chorus.
The man next to me slaps Kidnapped on his knee. “I didn’t sign up for a circus!” He complains so loudly that I blush for him.
The steward appears at his arm. “Is everything all right, sir?”
“Am I to listen to howling infants this whole flight?”
Kevin smiles like a court jester appeasing his churlish lord. “The world is so full of a number of things, I’m sure we should all be as happy as kings.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Mr. Jerky demands.
Kevin nods at his book. “Why, your Mr. Stevenson said that.”
I point my pen at the steward. “He wrote it for children, actually.”
“That’s right.” Kevin’s eyes sparkle with interest. “And how do you know that?”
“I write children’s books.” My face warms under his gaze. “Poetry is my favorite.”
Mr. Jerky glances from Kevin to me. “Humph!”
The wailing subsides after we take off and reach cruising altitude, and the crew begins their beverage service.
“Something for you, ma’am?”
My least favorite word. I look into the steward’s bright face. He’s probably another flirt, all froth and no forever. Yet his expression is so endearingly sincere that my heart trips over itself.
I look into the steward’s bright face. He’s probably another flirt, all froth and no forever.
Wait a minute. I just met this man an hour ago.
I clear my throat. “Water, please.”
As he hands me a cup, the plane drops. Babies resume their refrain, while Mr. Jerky scowls over his now-soggy book.
I gasp. “I’m sorry.”
“Clumsy idiot!” He growls at Kevin who’s passing napkins like a Frisbee champion.
I help Kevin mop up the water on the tray. “It was my fault. I didn’t get a good hold on the cup.”
The captain drones over the speakers about a patch of turbulence and requests the flight attendants to be seated.
Kevin smiles his thanks and accepts the soppy napkins. His hazel eyes graze my empty ring finger.
The crew retreats until the captain announces they are safe to resume their service.
Kevin reappears directly, bearing another water for me and wafers for us both. On the plastic wrap, there’s a number scrawled in black marker. I count ten digits and look up to find him watching me. Almost sheepishly.
“If there’s something else I can do for you, let me know.”
I twirl the wrapper between my fingers. “There is.”
His eyes dance.
“Call me Miss Julia.”
Meet the Author
Kristen Hogrefe is a young adult fiction author and speaker for youth events and professional conferences. She leads an online Word Weavers’ group and takes pleasure in helping other writers share their stories. Together with Bethany Jett, she launched the Build Your Brand Program to teach writers basic social media topics and help them build their personal brands.
You can find Kristen blogging each week at thinktruethoughts.com where she challenges young adults to think truthfully and live daringly. She craves coffee, sunshine, and good books—and loves sharing them with friends.
To say hello or learn more about the Build Your Brand Program, visit kristenhogrefe.com.