On the Wings of Chance
by Kim Pritekel
Disclaimers: These two are cute and all, but theyre mine. So, enjoy them,.
Subtext: Wouldnt be fun if there wasnt.
Oh, and HAPPY VALENTINES DAY!!! (late)
If youd like to tell me what a wonderful writer I am, or that I royally suck, feel free at: XenaNut@hotmail.com
"Delta flight 5018 will now begin boarding seats 20 and higher."
I glanced down at my ticket, seeing 17 F in typed black characters. I sighed, my palms beginning to sweat again. I had driven to the airport here in Cheyenne, Wyoming nearly three hours early, so worried I'd miss my flight. I'd hate myself forever if that were the case. I had good motivation, and kept staring at that motivation that had a prominent place in my wallet, often. I stared at it now, standing in line, tugging the strap of my carry-on a bit further up my shoulder.
Those incredible green eyes stared up at me, that adorable smile firmly in place. I've been told that that smile is there most the time. Guess I'd find out soon enough.
How are you supposed to act when meeting a stranger that isnt really a strange at all? You feel in your heart as though youve known them for years, or life-times, even. How does it all work, anyway?
I was twenty-six, and had been in love before, but not like this. I had even lived with a guy for a short time, but that hadnt lasted long. I had just come out to myself nearly a year ago, and hadnt even dreamt of trying my luck with women. I figured I knew the truth about myself, so Id go on with my life, always thinking maybe I just did it better alone. I hoped that wasnt still the case. One thing I knew for sure was that I had never done a crazy thing in my life; quite the opposite, really.
"Everyone else may now board."
I took a deep breath, put my wallet away, and hurried to catch the end of the line. Security was tough now days, and I just hoped I wouldn't be pegged too much for searching. I always felt so violated. I moved forward, getting closer and closer to the door that would lead me down the little hall, and finally onto the plane.
The little paper folder that housed my tickets was nearly wet from my palm. I felt bad for the lady taking tickets. I'd just try and handle the actual ticket as little as possible.
"Hello." she said, smiling at me. I smiled back, handing her what she needed. She read it, matched the information with that on my driver's license, and with one last smile at me, tore off her half of the ticket, and handed me the rest. "Enjoy your flight, Ms. Andrews."
"Thanks." I walked down the hallway with confidence that I didn't feel. I mentally did a tally of my wardrobe, hoping that I looked good. My comfy jeans that were well-fitted without being tight, but still managed to show off long legs that I did my best to keep toned. Didn't always work out, but I felt good over all. I made sure to wear red, knowing that it would really set off my blue eyes and dark hair. From the looks I'd been getting for the last, nearly four hours, I guessed I must look okay.
Still I worried.
I found my seat, glad to see that I would be sitting alone, the plane not completely filled. I really wasn't much for chit chat, and certainly not today. Nope, I just needed to put my headphones on, playing one of the CDs I'd brought, and relax. Maybe get some good reading in. I may even work on my latest story on the Alpha Smart. I was so glad I had treated myself for Christmas with it. Much like a laptop, but was used only for typing purposes. When I got home, I'd plug it into my desktop, and download it all.
But, that would have to wait until we got up in the air. Until then, I looked out the window, the sun finally beginning to come up. I knew that such an early flight would ultimately be a good thing, but for right now, I'd rather be home, in bed.
I took my wallet out again, the well-worn photo right there for me to look at. The picture had been perfect when it had arrived in the mail, along with a long letter and dried rose petals. Such a romantic. But, I had taken it in and out of the leather pocket it was in that the edges had bent and started to wrinkle.
She said that her hair was a little shorter now, in the picture the blonde locks were to her shoulders. She said that last summer, her apartment had gotten so hot that she had nearly gone crazy, so one day went to Cost Cutters, and had them chop it. I tried to conjure her in my mind with a shorter style. It didn't matter to me, of course. She could be bald, and I wouldn't care.
With a sigh, I put my wallet away, again, and grabbed my own hair, pulling it back to twist into an impromptu braid. It was July, and already starting to heat up at a quarter to seven in the morning. I almost wish I had worn shorts. I brought some with me, but just didn't think it was a good idea this time. First impressions, and all.
I rested my head back against the seat, and closed my eyes, a smile coming to my face as I remembered our conversation from last night.
"God, I can't wait to see you." Chance had said, her voice lower than usual as it came to me over the long miles, small and fragile through the receiver of my phone. We both lay in bed, tired from a long day, but neither of us able to let the other one go.
"Me, too." I had twisted the phone cord around my fingers until they hurt, then released them as I stared up into my dark ceiling. "But, just think. This time tomorrow, we'll be together."
"Oh, I know." she sighed, and groaned. "I wish it was tomorrow night, already."
"Soon enough, Chance. Itll happen. I promise."
I opened my eyes, the smile growing wider as I heard the pilots doing what they needed to for the plane, all the noises that go along with that. I could see all the workers out on the tarmac doing their jobs, quickly and proficiently. They would help me get there.
I heard the clicking of the public address system.
"Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. This is your captain speaking. We will be leaving in a few moments, on our way to Denver International Airport where some of you will find your final destination, and others will continue on. The weather looks clear, and were expected to land in Colorado on time."
I tightened my seatbelt, even though that was ludicrous. If this plane crashed, no seatbelt would save my butt.
I would be one of the ones continuing on. Denver was just a stop for me, a place where Id wait for an hour before boarding my flight that would take me to my final destination in New Hampshire. Id never been out east before. I hear its beautiful, and was excited.
Shaking the thought from my mind, I sat back, waiting for the time I could get my music going. That always calmed me. I hated to fly. My mind began to reel, thinking back, all the way back to January 1st of this year.
Work had been long and tiring, the weather cold and unforgiving. See, I was a bartender by night, and a writer by day. I had been writing for fifteen years. I was ready to move on, to start turning my dream into a reality. I had never really been supported by my family with my writing, most telling me it would make a great hobby, but nothing more. Still, I kept writing. I knew in my gut that someday, just maybe I could make a go of it.
Two years ago I had found a whole group of amateur websites that catered to those of us who wanted to share our talents with the masses, but didnt yet have the means or the luck to be published.
The Weighted Bookshelf.
I had smiled at the illustration; a wooden shelf, bowing from the weight of all the volumes on it, lined up, the last laying on its side, looking almost as if it were about to topple off the shelf all together. Chewing on the tip of a pen, I began to scroll around the site, clicking on the links, reading the stories already submitted.
I had spent an entire day reading, going from one story to the next, eagerly waiting to see what happened to the heros and heroines in them.
Something caught my eye, and I decided to check it out. ALT FICTION What on earth is that? It couldnt be what I thought it was.
My eyes bulged as I read more and more, taking it all in, eating it up. I had no idea anyone actually wrote this kind of stuff, let alone online! I had come across a book with two women in it in a bookstore once, but I had been too embarrassed to do much more than skim through it at the store.
See, I was new at this whole lesbian thing. My family had no idea, and I had no gay friends to speak of. Well, there was George who worked at the bar, but George didnt count; hed screw anything. As far as my family went, I figured I should be a bit more sure about myself, and know what I was getting into before I spread the word. If they didnt like my writing, what would they say about my being a dyke?
I half laughed, half shuddered at the thought.
So, day by day, or when I got home from work at 3 a.m., I went straight to my computer, and read more, learning all the ticks and the trades of two women in love.
Finally one day I decided to try my own hand it, and wrote my first "alt" story. Then once I felt I had perfected that, which I had to guess on. I had no one to read mine and tell me if it was any good or not, I decided I wanted people to read my work, too. So, after I finished my short story, I decided to bite the bullet, and allow my friend, Dawn, from the bar to read it. Dawn had been picking my brain for six months about my sexuality. I had never admitted anything to her, but never denied it, either. So, here was her chance to know the whole enchilada.
I printed out the twelve page ditty, and brought it to her.
"Sure, Ill read it, hon. Thanks." She had given me a huge smile, her deep voice, from too many years of smoking, resonating in my head as she had laughed at the humorous little tale.
"Um, Dawn? Why are you laughing?" I had asked nervously, testing her to make sure I hadnt made some stupid little typo or something. She looked at me, her long, red nails holding onto her cigarette.
"Why do you think? Honey, this is funny stuff." She turned back to it. I smiled, ear to ear as I washed down the bar. Score.
After my extremely modest success with the short, I decided to write something longer, and with more depth. I sat down one day at my computer, affectionately called Di, short for Diary as it kept all my hope and dreams locked secret in its hard drive.
It took me a good month or more to finish the story, fighting myself against my urge to revise. I knew it was my nerves that wanted to change things, thinking it wasnt good enough, but I stayed true to my philosophy of first shot, best thought. The story was done, and I was ready to move on.
So, one day I wrote to the web master of The Weighted Bookshelf, and asked for help. I still had the reply saved in my email inbox.
Hey, Andrews. Thanks for writing to me, but unfortunately I am only in charge of fixing problems with the site itself. But, Ill tell you what; Ive got some time over the next few days, so why dont you send me your story, and Ill read it, then pass it along to Mary. She does all the posting. You can send your story in a reply to this email.
I had immediately, well, after swallowing hard a few times to garner my courage, sent my story to CJ, and had waited with nearly baited breath, for what, I had no idea.
The plane was fully in the air, clouds rushing by the windows in a gauze-like mist. I took my CD player out of my pack, loaded in a disk, and put my headphones on, letting the music take me over. I thought about writing, but decided Id rather think.
I leaned my forehead against the window of the plane, watching the distant ground below, wondering what the people down there were doing, what they were thinking. With a sigh, I let my mind fly, too.
"Hey, sweetie! Whats up?" I stepped behind the bar, grabbing my apron from the hook on the wall, and began to tie it around my waist.
"Hey, Dawn. Not much. Just another day in the neighborhood." I ran my hands through my hair, gathering it to pull back into a ponytail.
"Did that chick write you back, yet?" I grinned, shaking my head.
"You are like an elephant. Never forget anything." Grabbing a glass, I began to wipe it dry as Dawn had just brought a tray of them in, fresh from the washer.
"Well, I care." She also began to dry glasses.
"Nope. I havent heard anything."
"Well, its only been a week, right?" I nodded, giving her a brave smile, but truth of the matter was, I was nervous, and disheartened. I just knew in my gut that CJ had hated it, probably not even read the entire thing. I would never try this again, but instead would just keep writing for my own enjoyment. Maybe, just maybe one of these days I would get the guts to send something in to a publisher. "Well, girl, I have to scoot. Have a good night." She kissed me on the cheek, always acting as a second mother to me, and hurried out from behind the bar. She had kids at home that she had to get to. Her husband would be leaving for work in an hour, and the twins couldnt be left alone.
I turned back to my job, waiting for the Friday night regulars to come streaming in. Tonight would be busy, and I was thrilled I had tomorrow off to sleep and write.
I reached down and unclipped my seatbelt. That juice I had drank this morning, followed by the Pepsi I just had, certainly had caught up with me. I carefully made my way down the aisle, hating to get up and walk around on planes, but not having much of a choice unless I wanted to be floating by time we landed.
The door snapped shut behind me, the light coming on above the door as I slid the lock into place. I looked into the mirror, the eerie blue light distorting my features.
What would she think? Would she like what she saw? There wasnt a doubt in my mind that I would. But I just didnt know.
I signed onto the internet, doodling as I waited for it to catch.
"Welcome." The little AOL guy said. "Youve got mail."
"Why, thank you." I grabbed the mouse, and went to my email, holding my breath. I had checked my email everyday, hoping that CJ would write, telling me theyd accepted my story. The thought of anyone else reading my work made my stomach roll. But, I knew that I had to do it sometime, so why not now, under a fake name. Well, not fake so much as not my full name.
Theyd never know who Andrews was.
"Okay, here we go." I clocked on the little mailbox icon with the door open, and waited as my inbox came onto the screen. I had four messages. Quickly searching through them, my heart skipped a beat when I saw the email address of The Weighted Bookshelf. The subject line read simply: Your story.
Hey, Andrews. Wow. Sorry its taken so long for me to reply. RL sure can be a bear sometimes. J Anyway, Ive just finished your story, and it was excellent! Are you sure you dont do this for a living? You should.
I printed your story out yesterday, and read the first little bit, but then had to go to work. I couldnt wait to get home and read more. I was late for work today because of you! (g) But I didnt mind one single bit. I was just so touched by it, and when Carrie died? Oh, man. I hate to cry, for starters, but I sure did with this one. Where on earth did you get such a touching idea?
Ive sent it on to Mary to post onto the site. I hope thats okay? Thanks for letting me read this. I really appreciate it, Andrews. It was truly wonderful, and I hope youll write more. Im addicted already.
I fell back against my chair, stunned and nearly unable to breath. Holy cow. Had I read this right? I read the email, and then read it again. She really liked it, and it was going to be posted onto a website! That meant that other people out there would be able to read it! And that meant that other people would be able to send criticism. Oh, not so sure I liked that fact. I had put my email address on the story, like I had seen other writers do.
Reading the email one more time, I typed in the address of The Weighted Bookshelf, and searched for my story, wondering if it had been posted yet. Finding the Whats New link, I clicked, and felt my heart expand when I saw my name and the title of my story, big as day.
"Wow." I breathed, staring at it. I looked at the Andrews, and for a moment wished I had actually put Elise Andrews. But, overall, I think its a better idea to keep my anonymity.
I chuckled at the smile that was on my face, seemingly glued in place. I felt so much pride as I started at the screen. My first publication of sorts. God, just please let people actually read it, and for the three that do, please let them like it.
I remembered CJs email again, and how incredibly nice he, she, it, they had been. Man, to read it, then send on that great email, and then to even post it for me.
I leaned back in the chair, clicking on my inbox again, and hitting the reply button on CJs message, then started at it. What on earth do I say?
Wow. I have to admit that Im pretty excited and surprised at your reaction to my story. I dont have a great deal of experience in writing lesbian stories, but it was fun, and Ill continue. Its certainly more satisfying than writing for straight characters.
I saw where Aftermath was posted, and I thank you. It looks wonderful! I feel like a child, giddy, at seeing my work posted for all to read. Kind of neat. Anyway, thanks again.
I re-read what I had written, and decided that it sounded alright, and hit send. I probably would not hear from CJ again, but I wanted them to know how much I appreciated their help.
With a contented sigh, I closed my email, and opened up a fresh Word page.
* * *
I sighed, again, as I turned onto Milford Road, knowing that my childhood home was less than a half a block away. I tried to stay away from here as much as possible, knowing that the visit always turned into a fight. I hated fighting with my mother, but it just was inevitable. But, she was my mother, and she wouldnt be around forever. Might as well make the best of it. I tended to only visit once or twice a month. It got old hearing her berate me for what I was doing with my life, and for not going on to pursue a career in law like my older sister did. She was a lawyer with the District Attorneys office in Buckhead, Montana. That was great, but not for me.
I was still lost, not having any clue what I wanted to do. I had gone to college, getting a degree in American history, but hadnt done a thing with it. Sometimes I wondered if it was some sort of rebellion. The power trips my mother took regularly wore me down.
I pulled into the driveway, my car sputtering for a moment. Yeah, so I needed a new car, too. Life could be interesting.
The house looked as it always did, that same god awful turquoise paint with the brown trim. What the hell had her and dad been thinking? He was dead now, the years of smoking and drinking finally getting the better of him. I knew deep down that mom only wanted the best for me and Tara. But, boy did she have an odd way of showing it.
I took my key out, knowing that shed have the door locked, even though she knew I was coming. Since dad had died, say three years ago, she had gotten so strange, paranoid and anti-social. Her weight problem had gotten completely out of hand, and it seemed as though every time I saw her, she had gained more weight.
But then, when all you do is sit on the couch eating Ding Dongs and watching soap operas and Dr. Phil, that tends to happen.
"Hello?" I looked to the couch, shocked to see it was empty, though a wrapper was on the coffee table. She had been there at one point. I looked around, heading to the kitchen and saw that the dishes had recently been washed as they still sat we in the strainer next to the sink.
"Hey, Elise." I heard the heavy breathing before I even heard my name. I turned and saw my mother walking toward me, her body wrapped in its usual muumuu. God, she looked awful.
"How are you, hon?" she walked up to me, and gave me a peck on the cheek, then turned away, headed for the living room.
"Okay. Where were you?"
"A womans got to pee now and then, you know." I nodded, following her slow progress to the couch. "Have you heard from your sister?" I rolled my eyes. That question came earlier than usual.
"Nope. Not since Christmas. You?" I helped her sit, arranging the pillows around her to help with the aches and pains in her back. The doctors said that if she didnt lose some weight, the scoliosis would affect her even more than it had for thirty years. What a mess.
"She called this morning." I sat in the arm chair to her right, next to the fireplace. I was frigid in this house as she always kept the heat low. She said gas costs too much, but more likely it was her natural insulation. She eyes me. As I looked at her, it made me so sad. I had gotten my blue eyes from her, Tara getting our fathers hard, gray ones. My mother had been such a beautiful women when she was younger, before shed let life get the best of her. Well, life and my sister. "She calls at least three times a week."
I stared at her. And so it begins.
"Well, I dont see her here, do you?" my mother reached over to the side table next to the couch, trying to grab her glass of water. I grabbed it, handing it to her.
"Thank you, love." She took a sip, holding the glass in her lap. "Of course shes not here; she lives in another state, for Petes sake."
"Im really not in the mood for mind games today, mother." I squeezed my eyes shut, rubbing my temples. My headaches always started up when I was around her.
"So, have you found another job, yet?" I looked at her, confused.
"What? Why?" she shrugged her shoulders.
"Well, I just thought maybe youd had enough of that brothel you work in." I sighed, not sure what to do. I knew I should leave, leave and never come back. But I couldnt. She was still my mother no matter how many nights I had laid in bed praying that werent so when Id been a kid.
"No. I still work at the bar." She snorted, shaking her head as she grabbed the remote from the cushion next to her, switching the TV on to more of Dr. Phils wonderful advise. Can you help me out, doc? I rested my hand against my cheek, and watched the program.
I watched as the world flew by below me, no details could even be seen, anymore. I wonder what my mother would say now if she knew where I was, and definitely where I was heading.
Chance told me all the time to block her out, and do my own thing, and be proud of what I was doing. If only it were that easy.
Wow! This was the first alt story you had ever written? If thats the case, Im doubly impressed. I would have thought youd been writing for women for years. Personally, thats the only thing I read, even at the Weighted Bookshelf. I just cant make myself read about women falling for men. Yuck. J Are you planning to write anymore? I sure hope so. We need some more good writers like you. I belong to a writers group on the web, and I told them all about you. Hope you dont mind.
I better get. I have work to do.
P.S. How old are you, anyway?
I read the email, a grin on my face. So, does that mean that CJ is gay, too? IF thats the case, and only reads lesbian work, CJ must be a she. And, she had told her writers group about me?
I sat back in my chair, hands behind my head as the grin broke through. I couldnt help it, and certainly didnt want to. No one had every taken such notice of my work before, certainly not enough to pass it along, or pass along the word about me.
I hit reply, and began to type.
Hi, CJ. One question; are you a female?
Anyway, no, Im not mad at all that you told your group about me. In fact, quite the opposite. Im flattered. Hopefully they wont be disappointed if they read Aftermath. How do you join this writers group anyway? What is it?
Im 26. You?
I smiled as I typed that single letter, truly enjoying playing this game of shrouds. I could be anyone I wanted to be on here. I could tell CJ anything I wanted to; I was a doctor or a lawyer, no, not a lawyer. God no. Anything. But, all the same, I felt compelled to tell the truth.
I hit the send button, and my message disappeared into cyber land. I had been very surprised by her question about my age, but then realized that if she maintains the website, and has this online writers group, then Im sure this chatting with strangers is everyday stuff for CJ. I wondered what that stood for, anyway.
* * *
"Hey, kid. How goes it?"
"Hi, Dawn. Not bad." I tied the apron around my waist, trying to hide my face. I knew Dawn would be full of questions, never letting me get to work until I spilled the beans. I could feel her eyes on my back as I started drying the glasses for tonight.
"Whats going on, honey?" I didnt answer, just smiled at her. Dawn tucked her bottom lip into her mouth, her eyes narrowing as she sized me up. With a nod of her head, she put her arm around my shoulder, and pulled. "Come into my office." She grabbed me by the hand, and pulled me toward the back where we wash the glasses and make coffee. "Brew." She pointed to the industrial-sized pot, and began making the coffee for the night. "Not much can make my Elise smile." She looked at me as she loaded the washer with glasses and mugs. "Whats going on?" I shrugged, sticking the Frisbee-size filter into the top.
"Well, I told you about CJ, the person who keeps that website my storys on up and running?" Dawn nodded.
"Well, she wrote me back,"
"Its a she?"
"Yeah, anyway, she wrote me back and said again how much she loved Aftermath, and wants me to continue writing, and even told some writers group she belongs to about me!"
"Thats great, hon!" Dawn came over to me, grabbing me in a massive hug. I thought my ribs would break one by one. "You deserve that kind of recognition." She went back to work at the washer. "Did you tell her about all the fan mail youve been getting?"
"I would hardly call that fan mail, Dawn."
"Why not? Theyre writing to you, praising you on your work, right?"
"Fan mail." I smiled at the bag of coffee grounds that I was trying to tear open. I Hated those vacuum-sealed things. I guess it is fan mail.
"No. I didnt mention it." I poured the dark grounds into the machine, and flipped the switch. Within moments it began to whir to life.
"Why not? Here, dry these." I took the tray of wet, newly cleaned mugs from Dawn, and grabbed a towel off the hook by the door. I looked at her like she was nuts.
"Dont you think that sounds just a tad arrogant?" I cocked my head to the side, and flung the end of my towel at her. She grinned.
"You wouldnt." I glanced out the door. "Here, take over. Crowds building."
* * *
"Maam?" I looked up, nearly jerking out of my seat. I fixed my headphones that had nearly fallen off my ears with the sudden movement,. I hadnt even realized Id fallen asleep. I looked up at the flight attendant who was holding a bag of peanuts in her hand. "Would you like one?"
"Oh. Thanks." I took the peanuts, and opted for a Dr Pepper, then turned to stare out the window of the plane. I was surprised to see what time it was when I glanced at my watch. We were about halfway through our flight to Denver. I promised Chance Id call her when I landed at DIA.
I couldnt stop the smile from returning to my face as I thought of where I was going. This was just so nuts, but it felt so right. Chance will never know how much she owes to Dawn. If not for her, I really doubt Id even be on this plane.
I sat at my desk, rubbing my hands together as the night was cold. Though winter was nearly over, the cold had yet to cease. I glanced out the window in front of me, looking outside of my small, two bedroom house, which so often seemed huge and empty to me.
Bringing my attention back to my computer, I turned it on, waiting not so patiently as it booted up, making the strange little noises that only a computer understood, and finally my desktop before me. I double clicked on the AOL icon, and waited again for it to connect me to the world wide web.
"Welcome. Youve got mail." With almost childish delight, I clicked on the mailbox, and my inbox was revealed to me.
Re: Your story
An instant smile appeared on my face, and I ignored even the feedback emails I had waiting for me, opening CJs first.
Im in a fine mood. Its Friday, I have the weekend plus Monday off, isnt life grand? Anyway, I hope your week has gone well.
Now to answer your questions. Yes, I am a girl, Im 27, and live in New Hampshire. Ill even add some more info for you. Hope you dont mind. I work with computers all day, and am the IT person for my company, which manufactures telephones. And just in case youre wondering, yes, Im a dyke.
So, all the same questions back at you.
The writers group. Well, I stumbled upon it one day, and basically its full of a bunch of writers like you who want to get started, but dont know how, or whatever, and so the group tries to help each other out. They edit each others stories, and read them, giving feedback. That sort of thing.
Tag. Youre it.
P.S. Where did all that raw pain and emotion come from that was in Aftermath? Its not often that an author can make me cry.
I stared at the screen, reading the email again. Well, thats interesting. Shes a lesbian, too. Close to my age. This could be the start of a beautiful friendship.
Grinning at my own joke, I hit reply.
Hi, CJ. Nice to see youre having such a wonderful day. Wish I could say the same. Its been a long day, Ill tell you that. Ill also tell you that I, too, am female, and as youve probably already guessed, a lesbian. Im a bartender in Wyoming, so I have some pretty rough nights, and last night was one of those.
Your writers group sounds great. It would be wonderful to meet people like yourself; writers trying to make their humble mark in literature. Are any of the members works posted on the Weighted Bookshelf? If so, please tell me who they are so I can read their work.
Aftermath: Hmm. Well, I dont mean to sound like a martyr or anything, but my life up to this point has been interesting to say the least. Ive always heard that you should write what you know, and I may not have had the exact situations happen to me as did to Melanie and Rachel in my story, but all the feelings are there. You know? I guess I wanted the reader to really feel what was going on, so I dug deep inside, bringing up all sorts of things t and emotions to bring it all to the surface. I guess it worked. J
So, what do you do for fun? Its obvious you enjoy computers. And if you dont mind my asking, what does CJ stand for, anyway?
With a click of my mouse, the email was shot out into wide blue yonder.
I gathered everything together, happy that the first part of my trip was over. But, that also meant that I was that much closer to my final destination.
"Oh, jeez." I could almost hear my stomach rumbling with anxiety, and way too much stomach acid doing flip flops in there.
I stood, waiting for the guy across the aisle to hurry his butt up and move. I was tired of being on this plane, and I was craving some fresh air, and some lunch.
Hey there. How goes it? Wellll, I usually dont tell many online folks what my name is, you know, stalkers, murderers, psychotic women hunting me down for my good looks and money.
RIGHT! Just kidding. But I usually dont, but I like you, so Ill share. Its Chance Abigail Johnson. Use the Abigail and you die. Just so you know. I dont use CJ in my RL, but its just always worked well for me here. What about you? Im guessing your last name is Andrews?
Go to this website. Its where the writers group meets every Monday night.
Fun. Well, I read, I love to do crossword puzzles, jigsaw puzzles. And, well, I dont admit this to just anyone, but I love to knit. Okay, okay, so I can hear you laughing all the way over there in Wyoming. You know, Ive never been out west. I was born in New York, but moved here to go to school, and just never left.
Okay. Your turn.
"Chance. That is so cool. What an awesome name." I muttered as I hit reply.
Hi, Chance. That is such a cool name. Where did it come from? Your folks gamblers? J Yes, Andrews is my last name. Elise.
Fun. Well, I enjoy playing pool. Working at a bar, you certainly get to do plenty of that. I enjoy tinkering with my computer, though Im not real great at it. Ive had mine for about six months. Well, one that could actually get online with. I had this old jalopy that I could only write with, which was fine with me for the most part.
Okay, did you say you knit?? How on earth did you get started with that? Do you have a grandmother somewhere that youre close to? J Just kidding. Thats great. I dont even know how to sew a button on. So, Id say Im impressed.
Also, that website is great! I was there for quiet a while last night, and even spoke with Mare139. She seemed real nice.
Oops. I better go. Work calls.
By the way, what does RL mean?
Hey, Elise. What a beautiful name. Elise Andrews. I could see that on the cover of a novel. (bg)
RL means real life. Guess youre not much onto computer lingo, yet, eh? LOL Oh, and thats laugh out loud, by the way.
Well, no grandma to speak of. My grandparents all died when I was pretty young. I dont know. I guess just needing something to relax with, you know? You come home to an empty house, and you dont really want to get on the computer because youre on them all day, and TV just doesnt sound good. So, I saw it in a magazine one day, and decided to try it. I love it. You, my friend, should try it. And as for pool, youre on, chick! I love pool, and kick mega butt at it. My folks had one as I was growing up, and still do. Every time I go home, I play my dad. Its great.
As for my name, well, my mom and dad had tried to get pregnant for the first ten years that they were married, to no avail. So, then my mom finally got pregnant, but it was a fifty-fifty chance that Id survive. So, Chance it was.
I sat back in my chair, my head cocked to the side, brows drawn.
"Aww, how sweet." I continued to read.
So, tell me about you, Elise. Are you close to your family, where are you from? Any other Andrews out there?
Hey, Chance. I am so exhausted. Tonight was rough. We had a huge fight start with two drunk assholes who decided it sounded fun to beat the crap out of each other with pool sticks! God, why are men so stupid sometimes? I dont get it.
Okay, all about Elise. I was born in Ogden, Utah, then moved to Cheyenne when I was thirteen. I moved here to Wooten four years ago. My sister is seven years older, and lives in Montana. Shes a lawyer. My father is dead, and my mother is a hag. You?
Do you mind if I ask what you look like? I like to see who Im "talking" to.
I found my gate, and looked around for a payphone. I thought about that day when Id asked Chance to describe herself. I had been so completely nervous, terrified that she would be angry, or tell me it was none of my business.
Seeing a bank of phones, I headed over to them, envisioning her in my mind, an instant smile coming to my face. I dug my calling card from my wallet, and dialed the numbers that I knew so well.
Hey there. So you want to know what I look like, huh? Funny, I was wondering the same thing about you. Here goes:
I am 54", blonde hair thats driving me crazy. I really want to chop it. I have green eyes. I cant tell you what my weight is right now. It fluctuates a lot. Im a kickboxer, so my muscle mass goes up and down.
Anyway, what about you? Hey, I thought you were going to join our discussion group last night? I was kind of bummed you didnt show up.
So, I have to do some work.
I stared at the screen, my stomach in knots, yet again. Why does that happen so much when I read Chances emails? I found that I rarely went out anymore, like I did much before, but even to work to play pool before my shift. I stayed at the computer writing, and waiting for emails from her. The minute I came through that door after work every single night, and as soon as I got up from bed, the first thing I did was race to see if she had written.
I didnt understand it. And what would she think about what I look like? I mean, I can give her a description, but will she like it?
Why should I care? I sighed, and hit reply.
Hey, Chance. Well, hopefully this wont scare you away. J Im 58, I think I weigh around 135, have dark hair that sometimes looks black, but I dont think so. I have blue eyes. What would you say people say is your best feature? Everyone says I have nice eyes. Theyre okay, I guess. Too light for my liking. But, whatever.
Oh, I had to go in to work early. Sorry I missed the group. I was really bummed.
What about your family?
Howdy, chickie. Hey, you sound hot! J I bet your eyes are beautiful. My best feature? Hmm. Good question. I dont really stare at myself in the mirror too often. I guess Id have to say my eyes. They look green most of the time, but theyve been known to look blue now and then; like an aqua color, you know? Hey, do you have a picture you can send? I can send you one. Ive been going nuts with my digital camera. Its Christmas gift to myself. Too fun.
Well, Im the only kid in the group. Dad is retired now, but mom still volunteers with the Red Cross. Shes been there for about fifteen years. Dad used to work for the public transit system. Theyve been married for 40 yeas, and Im closed to both.
Hey, so do you date or anything?
Hi. Dating? No. Ive never dated women before. Guys, yeah. Lived with one, too. What about you?
Um, Id like to see a picture of you. I have no idea how Ill look at it. Not real good with that sort of thing, and I know nothing about digital cameras.
I held the receiver to my ear, my heart pounding, trying to keep my breathing under control. God, I was dying to see her. It almost felt as though I have been away on a trip or something, and I was on my way home to her. I missed her somehow, even though I have never met her in person.
The phone rang, then again.
"Hello?" the smile stretched wide across my lips, nearly from ear to ear. Suddenly all my butterflies few away.
"Hi, gorgeous." I could hear the smile mirrored in her voice. "Where are you?"
"Denver. Im half way there." My voice dropped, my guts turning into goo with just the sound of her voice. I remembered the first time we had talked on the phone. It hadnt been long after wed forged our friendship over email. One day shed written, asking if she could call me, telling me she wanted to know that there was a "real human" over here.
My palms had been sweaty, and I had rubbed them constantly on my pants as Id paced the floors of my house, waiting for seven oclock. Thats when Chance had said shed call.
I glanced at the clock on the microwave. I had ten minutes. I turned back to my walking
Ring , ring, ring
I looked up, surprised, and my stomach in knots, then my brows drew in irritation. It was probably some damn phone solicitor. I picked up the cordless.
"Hello?" I asked, trying to keep my anger in check. There was silence on the other end. "Look, I know youre there, I can hear you breathing. I dont want to buy anything, so either speak up, or get lost."
"Well. Hello to you, too."
I stopped, eyes widening.
"Chance?" I heard a low chuckled.
"Yeah.. I know Im early, but I just couldnt wait."
Feeling like I would throw up from my nervousness.
"Well, Im glad you did."
We had been inseparable from that moment on. Between phone calls, emails, and IMs, I had slowly, but completely, fallen in love with her. Chance became my own chance for so many things. A chance at happiness, a chance at love.
"Oh, baby, I want you here so bad." I could hear the desperation in her voice, and it mirrored how I felt in my own heart.
"I know, love. Ill be there soon." I reached back, pulling my hair out of its ponytail. "So, what have you been doing all day?"
"Besides waiting for you?" I smiled. It felt so good to be needed and wanted. "I cleaned, and did some grocery shopping. Got you a box of Trix."
"I did." Again that smile. I could imagine what it looked like, to.
"Thats so sweet, babe."
"Well, I know how much you love them." I sighed happily.
"Youre just so wonderful. God, I cant wait to meet you."
As we continued to talk, I felt my heart swell well beyond the measurements of my ribcage. I felt like I was flying so high that I could cruise above Denver and land in the stars.
How does love do this to you? How does it make you feel like everything will be okay, and that you are doing the right thing no matter how crazy it seemed at the time. I knew that Chance was right for me, and that what were doing was right.
"Delta flight 363 is now boarding."
Shaken from my thoughts, I was brought back to the angelic voice on the other end of the line.
"Theyre calling my flight, Chance." I took a deep, shaky breath. This was the last stretch of my flight. God, this was it!
"Cool." I could hear the excitement in her voice. "Are you as nervous as I am, Elise?"
"I think more so." I said, smiling.
"Just remember, babe. I love you." Those words were burned onto my brain, and into my heart. I smiled, feeling so protective of this new feeling.
"I love you, too, Chance. Just think, the next time we speak, well be standing face to face."
"I know. Weird, huh?"
"Yeah." I took a deep breath, for the hundredth time this day. "I have to go, babe."
"Okay. See you soon."
"See you soon. Bye."
"Bye." I could hear it in her voice, just like every time we hung up on the phone. There was so much dread and sadness in her voice. I had no doubt that my own mirrored it.
I cradled the phone onto the receiver, gently stroking it before I turned toward my gate, lugging my backpack up onto my shoulder, and headed to join the line.
* * *
I gathered my belongings, staring out at the lights of New Hampshire, my heart beating so fast in my chest that I felt faint. Sweat was beading out of every pore on my body, which made me even more nervous.
God, I cant smell when I meet her!
The plane began to empty, and I stayed in my seat, waiting till the last. What if she didnt like me? What if she didnt find me attractive? What if she wished I hadnt come out here at all?
"Miss? Are you alright?" I looked up to see one of the flight attendants standing looking at me.
"Oh. Yes." Smiling sheepishly, I stood, and made my way out into the aisle, and down the length of the plane to the little tunnel that would lead to the gate, which would lead to the rest of the airport, which would ultimately lead to the baggage claim and Chance.
Blowing out a long held breath, I hurried. Despite all my nervousness, and all my doubts, I wanted to see her so bad, needed to see her. Suddenly I found myself walking really fast, nearly running through the near-empty airport as it was late at night.
I had been tired on the plane, a full day of flying exhausting, but suddenly I felt alive, energized, as if I could stay up for hours, hell, the entire night!
There it was; the sign that read BAGGAGE CLAIM. My heartbeat sped up as my feet slowed down. As I entered the area, I could see people meeting loved ones, or trying to find their luggage as it came around on the carrousel.
It was crowded, two planes landing within ten minutes of each other, and everyone was trying to get out of the airport as quickly as possible. I found my small bag, and turned toward the door.
Time itself slowed down to a crawl, everyone around me receding into the background of my mind, my eyes seeming to be drawn toward the wall. A lone woman stood against it, one leg bent, foot flat against the wall, hand in her hip pocket as the other one held a long-stemmed red rose. My eyes moved up from the blue jeans to the tight-fitting, black shirt, up a long, smooth neck, and to the face that had been breaking into my dreams for the last six months.
"Chance," I whispered, her eyes already on me, taking me in. The slowest, sweetest smile came to her face, her green eyes lighting up as I took a step toward her. The leg on the wall slid to stand flat on the floor, and the hand came out of the pocket to come up in a wave. I smiled, waving back.
A straight path was before us, the love of my life mere feet away as we walked toward each other. I felt my life come together with an audible click, everything lining up to where it was supposed to be.
Yeah, this was right.
"Hi." She said, not two feet from me.
"This is for you." She extended her hand, giving me the rose. I took it, smelling it, eyes closed to inhale the scent. When I opened them again, Chance was standing right in front of me, her eyes staring into mine. "You are so beautiful in person, Elise." She smiled, sending chills down my spine, making my blood boil, my heart puff.
"Oh. Thank you." I searched her face, her eyes, down her body, then back to her eyes. "You too, Chance. God, Ive missed you."
"Oh god, me, too." Finally she took me in a hug that nearly broke my bones, but I returned it just as vehemently, needing to feel her, to know that she was real, and that she was mine.
* * *
Two months later
"Is that everything?" I looked into the backseat of my car, which was empty... finally.
"Thats all she wrote." I turned to look at Chance who was looking at me. Then I looked up the walk to the small, two bedroom house on the hill in New Hampshire.
"Good. Lets go home." She smiled at me, taking me by the hand, and leading me to the front door of what was my new home. "Weve got a lot of unpacking to do."
"Yeah, we do. I love you, Chance."
"I love you, too, Elise."