3 Replies to “5.24.2013 Journal Prompt”

  1. There was a picture in the brochure: an air hostess was smiling at the camera and through the window behind her the sky was an unnatural blue and the glass of the window was as clear as glass must be when it is new. And in the seat sat a young woman and a young man and they were both laughing and not really paying attention to the drink the air hostess was setting down on the cleared table in front of them. ‘I’m Mandy, fly me,’ it said in red across the picture and I thought of the song by that British group from 1976.

    But life is never as it is in song, never the same as seen in the air-brushed smile of a brochure. There’s a kid in the seat behind me and he keeps kicking the back of my chair, and there’s a smell like someone has left the door of the toilet open. And the drink on the table looks something the same, except they’ve no straws when I ask and the ice melts too quickly.

    Bob isn’t laughing like the man in the picture. He has a headache and he holds his head in his hands and his skin is a funny colour and pale. I ask the stewardess if she has any paracetamol and though she smiles it does not feel like a real smile, and her lipstick has coloured one of her front teeth and I can’t help staring at her mouth and the shapes her lips make.

    I can’t make the fan above my head work and Bob’s no help. No matter which way I turn the nozzle, the air is still warm, and I cannot turn it off. I do not want to ring for the stewardess again, so I twist the nozzle as far to the right as I can, blowing warm air into the open newspaper of the man sitting next to me.

    We are on our way to Bob’s mother’s. She’s eighty on her birthday and her birthday is only hours away. I’d suggested we go up the evening before and stay in a motel for the night, but Bob said we couldn’t afford that, not if we were going on to his sister’s house at the lake; so we’d risen out of broken sleep at some ungodly hour in the morning, long before the thoughts of birds were songs, and we’d made our way onto the early flight which was cheaper.

    He was never good at travelling. That’s why I had suggested the motel. He’d have had time to get over his headache and to make himself presentable. Instead, his mother would comment on the pale that he was, and she’d think I wasn’t looking after him right or feeding him what a man should be fed, and she’d over-fill his plate and that would make things worse.

    ‘Eighty is something special,’ Bob had said. ‘We have to go.’

    ‘Every year after seventy is special,’ I told him, but I don’t know what I meant by saying that. Of course we had to go.

    We’d bought her new cooking pots, the bases made of copper. I remember saying to Bob when we were first wed and we were talking about what to get each other for Christmas, and he suggested I might like a set of pans; I said if he wanted to sleep on the sofa for a month then he could buy me pans. But when Bob bought his eighty year old mother a set of copper pots, I never said a word.

    The voice of the captain came over the intercom. It was all crackle and fizz and he welcomed us aboard and said what height we would be maintaining and what our estimated time of arrival would be and the air temperature when we got there. He said it was windy in New York and so to expect turbulence ahead. I laughed to myself, thinking that any son of mine who turned up to my eightieth birthday with a set of copper pots could at the very least expect turbulence.

  2. Lindsay, I can imagine you (wherever you are) chuckling at my choice of topics, just as I am sitting here on an island in the Caribbean, smiling at yours–and I am enjoying the tone and detail of your writing, and wishing for a set of copper bottomed pans.

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