DJ plopped into the hard plastic seats at the airport. Her over-stuffed backpack slid off her shoulder onto the floor with a thud.
“Passenger, Dorothy Peterson, please approach the counter.”
DJ rolled her eyes and grabbed her things. She could feel the flush on her face when she leaned to whisper to the handsome young man behind the counter. “I’m DJ…err…Dorothy.”
Counter-man’s eyes twinkled as he flashed his bright smile and whispered back, “Sorry, DJ…got it.” He winked and her tummy fluttered. “DJ, as an unaccompanied minor, you get to load the plane first and will be seated near the front. Once you land in Seattle, your guest will be allowed to meet you at the gate. ”
DJ rolled her eyes. He acted like she’d won a prize or something. Suddenly the flattery of the smile and wink meant nothing. Her Aunt Emily insisted that she travel as an unaccompanied minor, even though she would be a freshman in high school next month.
“Woohoo,” DJ feigned her excitement. She flipped her long braids aside and heaved her pack onto her shoulder while she thrust her ticket out to be scanned.
After a long day of travel, DJ began to fidget. Music didn’t interest her anymore and the book she brought put her to sleep. She stared at the sparkly manicure that belonged to the woman next to her.
“Are you visiting Seattle, or is that home?”
“Visiting,” DJ nodded and mentally told herself; smile polite and look out the window.
DJ could stand it no longer. She knew not to speak to strangers, but boredom had taken its toll on her. She turned to her neighbor and plunged in, loneliness and excitement mixed together. “I’m going to spend a month with my Aunt Emily. I call her Auntie Em. It’s sort of a joke we have.”
“Why is that a joke?”
“Well, my name is Dorothy, but I go by DJ, short for Dorothy Jean. We’re from Kansas. When I turned ten, she bought me a little Scottie dog and insisted I name him Toto. My aunt moved to Seattle two years ago.” DJ paused, unsure what else to say. “It’s silly, huh?”
The woman patted DJ’s arm, “I think it is very charming. Do you realize Washington is called the Evergreen State?”
Mesmerized by the sparkly fingernails, DJ tore her eyes off the hand that rested on her arm. “No, but it makes sense. Sure is a lot greener than Kansas.”
“Indeed it is.”
The woman laughed softly and it reminded DJ of the puffy clouds outside the window.
The stranger asked DJ, “Do you know what they call Seattle?”
“No,” DJ turned her attention back to her seatmate. This time she dared to look into the stranger’s face and noticed her clear green eyes.
“The Emerald City,” she whispered like it was a secret. Her shiny-glossed lips curved into a gentle smile.
“No way,” DJ beamed with the new information.
“What does your Auntie Em do in the Emerald City?”
DJ smiled at the use of the nickname. “She works in a Christian drug and alcohol re-hab center for women. I get to help in the dining hall and get paid.”
“That’s good,” the woman flipped through a magazine.
DJ took the opportunity to absorb her new friend’s appearance. She wore a white, shimmery blouse and a pale, cucumber-green skirt. She looked like an angel.
DJ’s stomach rolled when the plane tilted. She looked out the window and stared in wonder at the snowy-topped mountains, evergreen forests, and large bodies of water. Soon they were over Seattle. She leaned back to let her new friend take in the view.
“It’s beautiful,” DJ exclaimed.
“You’re certainly not in Kansas anymore, Dorothy.”
The plane taxied up to the terminal. “You know,” angel-woman’s soft voice drew DJ closer. “Maybe you will have an opportunity to help in a different way this summer.”
“What do you mean?” DJ whispered. Her heart pounded with anticipation.
“Maybe you’ll help someone find the courage to fight through their addiction. Or perhaps you can simply listen patiently to one who can’t quite form her thoughts because drugs have damaged her brain. It’s possible there’s a woman that needs to discover a loving heart buried beneath years of bitterness and anger.”
Once inside the airport, DJ greeted her aunt and turned to introduce her new friend, “I’m sorry, what’s your name?”
DJ’s mouth gaped open.
Glenda laughed and waved her sparkly fingers, “Ta-Ta, Dorothy dear.”
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