Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: JOIE DE VIVRE (delight in being alive) (08/18/16)
By Yvonne Blake
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The young man next to me plugged his earbuds into his iPod, so I knew he wouldn’t bother me. I adjusted my horseshoe-shaped pillow and settled myself against the curved wall, when a girlish squeal slipped along the wall right in my ear.
O great! There’s a kid behind me. Maybe she’ll sleep too.
“Oh, I can see my pink suitcase! It’s riding up that ramp. Look at all the planes. There must be at least twenty of them. They look like cows—all lined up to eat their hay. There’s one taking off right now. I wonder where it’s going.” On and on she chattered, with hardly a breath between thoughts. I wished I had my earbuds, which were in my suitcase—riding up the ramp behind the pink girly one.
As I tried to block out the sounds around me, my mind turned to the little girl in my life. She wasn’t so little anymore. Guilt washed over me as I thought of all the squeals of excitement I had missed because I was always traveling to Hong Kong, London, or Mexico City on business trips.
“Oh, look how fast we’re going! The trees look like they’re running the other way.”
I glanced out my window at the backward running trees. With a rush of power, the jet lifted into the air. Just as I expected, there’s was another squeal behind me.
“The cars are so petite. They look like toys. Can you see the school and soccer field?” A deeper voice responded. The plane banked around to head westward, causing yet another squeal and giggle. “We’re so high, I can’t see the cars anymore.”
I closed my eyes again. As we rose higher, a bit of turbulence told me that we were rising above the clouds. I waited for the reaction behind me. I wasn’t disappointed.
“Magnifique! Oh, Daddy, look at the moon! It’s shining on a world of silver pillows. Oh! I’d love to bounce around on them. Do you think it’s possible to make cloud angels?”
I smiled at the thought. For a few minutes things quieted down except for the drone of the engines and people finding books and electronic gadgets to keep themselves occupied. The flight attendants began their shuffle down the aisle with a selection of drinks and snacks. I had learned from experience to pretend I was asleep, and they would leave me alone.
“Ohhhh! The ice cubes look like cups.” After a slurp and a giggle, “Look! The bubbles are sticking to the outsides of the ice cups.” I pictured it in my mind, although I hadn’t consciously noticed them before.
The cabin lights dimmed, and the deeper voice reminded the girl to hush so others could sleep. Thank you I focused on my business deal and hoped my boss would agree with its terms. Occasionally, I heard her whispers exclaim over the lights below us. I assumed that the clouds had dissipated, and so did my thoughts, as I finally drifted off to sleep.
“Ohhh!” A squeal of delight woke me. “C’est trės belle! C’est le plus, plus magnifique!”
My heavy eyes didn’t want to open, but I couldn’t help it. I glanced out my window and gasped. The morning sun was reflecting on the towering glass skyscrapers of New York. The whole city sparkled like gold. I heard clapping hands and giggles. A surge of homesickness tightened my throat. The descent to the ground took ages.
After we taxied to our gate, I stood to retrieve my bags in the overhead bin and glanced to the seat behind me—to catch a glimpse of the happy squeals’ face. There was no little girl, only a middle-aged man and a young woman. I hesitated, checked the seat number, and wondered if I had dreamed it.
The man caught my eye. “I’m sorry, sir. I hope my girl didn’t disturb you. You see, she’s been blind since birth, and a surgeon in Paris just gave her a whole new life.”
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