Saturday, November 2, 2013

Just a Taste by Ginger Simpson

This week, I'm sharing a taste of "A Wing and a Prayer."  If you read my blog a few days ago, you know one of the benefits of being a pantser is having stories that evolve into different lengths.  This shorter work gave me an opportunity to share the debut flight of an airline attendant who learns a very valuable lesson.

Callie Corwin has completed her training as a flight attendant and is on her maiden voyage—a trans-Atlantic flight from California to England.  Her already jangled nerves are further put to the test by the cowboy in seat 4C. His Montana sky-blue eyes seem to always be focused on her, and she finds him an easy distraction as she goes about her duties.

But another passenger catches Callie’s attention, and not because of his startling good looks or friendly attitude. In her mind, the dark-complected man in seat 9D is the epitome of a terrorist, and she fears the plane may be highjacked—especially when she catches a glimpse of something she suspects might be a gun.   Naïve and young, Callie can’t shake the warning bells about the man’s suspicious appearance.

Her fellow stewardess, Margo, puts her mind to rest and both women look forward to seeing England for the first time.  But, the long flight for Callie is shortened when she passes out from fear when both 4C and 9D converge on the galley at the same time. The weapon she suspects becomes a reality, but she awakens to discover that her rush to judgment was as faulty as her first impressions.

Excerpt:

Callie Corwin passed down the aisle of the 757 one more time before takeoff.  Her heart thudded in her chest like the jet engines.  Hopefully, she’d done everything by the book.  This was her first flight as an attendant, and everything she’d learned during training seemed to have gotten lost in her muddled thoughts.

Making her way back to her own seat in the front of the plane, she halted at a huge pair of cowboy boots blocking the aisle.  “Excuse me, sir.”  She jostled the muscular shoulder of a person in repose, most of his face hidden by a black Stetson.

He lifted the hat higher on his head and pulled his long, lanky legs back into place.  “Yes?”
She swallowed hard, seeing eyes bluer than a Montana sky staring back at her.  “Y-you’ll have to buckle your seatbelt for takeoff.”   Her gaze drifted down the length of him and rested on his bag.  “And you’ll have to stow your carry-on under the seat in front of you.” 

“Yes, Ma’am.”  He doffed the brim of his hat and nudged the black case forward with his foot.
She tried to be professional and not chuckle at his adorable accent. With a smile and a fluttery stomach, she turned and continued to her jump seat in the galley.   That cowboy certainly was a piece of eye candy.  Too bad there wasn’t time to get better acquainted. Still, the eleven hour flight from California to England would certainly offer another chance.

She harnessed herself in and smoothed her hands across her skirt.  So far, so good.  No one had gotten angry, everyone found their allotted seat, and the safety instructions had gone off without a hitch.  Of course, no one really followed along with the pamphlet in the seatbacks, but at least she managed her safety belt demonstration without dropping her prop.  She never expected to be so nervous.  Her palms dampened even now as her fellow flight attendant announced they’d been cleared for take off.

Flying backwards always bothered her.  Why couldn’t they have put the crew’s seats on the opposite wall?  As the airplane picked up speed, she closed her eyes and took a deep breath, planting both feet firmly on the floor. On the climb, turbulence swayed the fuselage, and Callie’s fingers clenched into a knot in her lap.  “Bumps in the road,” she muttered, reminding herself of the words her instructor had shared.  She’d flown many times in her twenty-two years, but she’d never get used to the roughness caused by air currents.  As she often did as a passenger, she counted backwards from one hundred.  Usually before she got to twenty-five, things smoothed out.  This time was no different.

After a cleansing breath, she opened her eyes then fidgeted to find her gaze locked with those Montana blues again.  Just her luck. The aisle seat of row four had a perfect view of her seating area, and at this moment, her.  She managed a weak smile, and prayed for the captain’s signal to begin in-flight service.  Diverting her attention, she turned to chat with the attendant sitting next to her, but warmed from the heat of seat 4C’s blazing stare.

As soon as the plane leveled and the buzzer sounded, Callie flexed both fists on the armrests, took a deep breath, and unfastened her safety belt. Pasting on a smile, she rose, and forcing herself to take calm, measured steps, crossed the aisle back to the galley.

 Behind the privacy divider, she pulled sodas from the icebox and prepared them for the orders her fellow crew member was already taking in the plane’s forward section.  The aft handled their own.  As she lined the cans by type, she mentally ran through her list of duties.  Once the drinks and light refreshments were served, she’d pass through the cabin, offering pillows and blankets.  Maybe she’d heat a bottle for a baby, or help an elderly person to the bathroom.  Whatever was needed for the passenger’s comfort, she’d do.

Unbidden, the image of that angular jaw and those piercing blue eyes filled her head, and she cut herself on a pop-top.  She quickly pressed her finger against her lips and winced, then grimaced at the salty taste of blood.  After dipping a napkin into melted ice, she dabbed at the painful slice.  Methodically, she moved to the first aid kit, found a band-aid and applied it.  Darn, why couldn’t seat 4C have been 28B instead of the constant distraction he’d become? 

The plane lurched upward.  Callie grabbed the counter and narrowed her widened eyes.  Would she ever get used to those dratted bumps? A buzzer summoned her.  She checked the lights above the seats for the passenger who rang—9D.  As she made her way down the aisle, Mr. Eye Candy lowered the lashes of one eye in a definite wink.  Pretending to ignore him, she continued past, hoping she showed no obvious reaction.  Drat!  The guy really tested her resolve, and she couldn’t afford to be sidetracked when she was trying to prove herself on the job.

A dark-complected man sat beneath the lit service light.  Callie released his call button.  “May I help you, sir?”

He thrust his plastic glass at her.  “I want more.”  He spoke with a heavy accent, unfamiliar to her.  Beneath bushy brows, his dark eyes and thin lips conveyed an aura of ice.

“Of course.  I’ll be happy to refill your glass. What were you drinking?”  The spicy aroma of his aftershave hinted at Whiskey.  She hoped he had the correct change as she had none.

   “Tonic with a twist of lime.”

She figured him for something much stronger, but nodded.  “I’ll be right back.”

As she turned, he removed a cell phone from his pocket, flipped open the top and started to dial.
 “I’m sorry, sir.” She reached toward his hand. “You aren’t allowed to make calls during flight unless you use the phone in the seatback in front of you.”

The man stared at her with ebony contempt, recoiling from her intended touch as if she might infect him with something.  “Do not lay your hands on me.”

****
Want to read more?  This and all my other short stories are available at Muse It Up Publishing.

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