Posts Tagged ice

Excerpt 147


Dear Ala,

Please read this letter in its entirety.  While I know your instinct may be to tear it up, or act as if you’ve never received it, please work against it.  It is imperative you know that I am not writing to you out of anger for what may or may not have happened. I am still out of the country and, while I have received disturbing news about my property being disrupted, I am a firm believer in assessing a claim before reacting. This only has to do with…

Her seat seemed to slump and began to shake suddenly.  Danno woke up and took her hand.  Their tray tables rattled, spilling her ginger ale on her legs, and the seat belt lights blinked incessantly. The stewardess wobbled toward the front of the aisle and picked up the intercom speaker.

First she spoke in Korean and then, Ala assumed, repeated, “Please everyone take your seats and fasten your seat belts. We are experiencing some turbulence and at the captain’s request, please remain in your seats.”

Ala had acquired the bad habit of never wearing her seat belt on flights.  She reached down to find the buckle and the plane shifted again, slamming her forehead against the tray table.

“Oh no, here sit back, let me see,” Danno said, rubbing the spot on her forehead that she knew would later erupt into a bump.

The vibration grew quicker and the stewardesses strapped themselves into the seats parallel to the rows in the front of the cabin.  Ala shoved the letter into her purse and zipped it, making sure all of the compartments were closed.  Her legs shook as she felt her stomach drop, as the plane seemed to turn in the opposite direction.

The intercom came on again and a man’s voice took over.  He spoke Korean in a calming tone, but Ala could tell there was vomit rising in the back of his throat he was trying to keep down.  The speaker cut out before her could repeat himself in English.

A drink cart came crashing down the aisle, slamming into a man’s elbow.  He screamed.

“Put the Goddamn brake on that cart!” He yelled.  A stewardess unstrapped herself from her seat and ran over.  Grabbing the cart handles, she struggled to push it forward. The man got out of his seat to help her.

“I’m sorry Sir. The brake was on.”

An alarm went off and the tension among the few passengers flourished, as the air seemed to tighten around them.  Ala pictured them plunging into the black water and being ripped apart by whatever unseen beings they would disturb.  She felt up and down her seat, trying to find the flotation device.  Danno took her hand.

“Calm down.  The plane isn’t going down.  It’s a storm.” He pointed to the droplets covering her window.  “Don’t waste your energy being hysterical.”

“But it might go down. Everyone is scared,” she said.

“Come here,” he said, wrapping his arm around her. He pulled the blanket up over both of their legs and put his neck pillow behind her back. Even with the awkward armrest jutting into her ribs, she began to feel better.

“Apple,” he whispered.

“What?”

“Apple.”

She looked at him.

“What are you doing?”

“Now you say a food that begins with the letter “B”.” The stewardess reached into the drink cart and pulled out a few ice cubes.  She wrapped them in a napkin and handed them to the man to hold against his elbow. The lights flickered in the cabin. Ala tried to hold in her urine. “Come on,” he said.

“Bologni,” she said. He nodded.

“Chicken Cordon Bleu. That’s two points for me.”

“Why is that?”

“Because I used the letter “c” twice.”

“Fine.  Dagwood Sandwich,” she said.

“What is that?”

“You know, from Blondie. The sandwich that looks like it’s twelve layers of meat and cheese.”

“What’s Blondie?”

“The comic book?  The sandwich enthusiast. My father and I used to read them on weekends.”

Her eyes filled with tears.  She had avoided her parents and now was going to drown in the dark before ever seeing them again. The pressure around her heart made her nervous to move any part of her body.

“Fine, the point is yours under the condition that this so called sandwich has been attempted by someone other than a fictional character.  Éclair.”

“Fettuccini.”

“Gazpacho”

“Haddock.”

“Ice cream.”

An overhead bin opened, tossing a trunk out that burst open when it hit the floor.  A lady screamed and made the sign of the cross against her chest.  Ala closed her eyes.

“Jell-O”

“Hardly a food, but fine.”

“You’re sort of a pain in the ass with this game.”

“I just play fair,” he said, rubbing the palm of her hand. “Kale.”

“Lemongrass.”

The plane veered sharply and straightened out.  The alarm stopped pulsing and the lights stabilized.  Ala was sure they had crashed and that she was watching the scene while dead. The stewardess tried to adjust her cap and walked back to the intercom.

“It seems that we are through the turbulent portion of our flight.  The captain asks that you please remain in your seats with your seat belts fastened. We will come through with beverages offerings once we receive clearance.”

“We’re okay,” he said. “And I’m pretty sure I won.”

Ala pinched his forearm and then rested her head against his chest.  She drifted off just as the sun cut through the black sky.

 

 

 

 

 

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Excerpt 97


Jase’s father was not in love with Ala.  They both knew this and the topic was never discussed.  He adored her and because of his money and her being attractive, there were assumptions by extended family and friends.  He had always asked her opinion and listened to her answers. The way Jase had loved her infused the entire family with calm feelings.

She wasn’t sure who knew they had split up.  She was almost certain no one imagined she lived in Boston anymore.  People lived in cities often though and stilled maintained relationships.  Abigail’s illness must have hit very quickly, perhaps right around the time Ala had moved home.  Jase had not called at all until the previous evening, which meant he was trying to stay strong.  He was trying to stay away from Ala and trying not to love her anymore.  Unless he didn’t love her and didn’t want to talk to her but Abigail had asked him to.

Ala looked into his father’s blue eyes, now rimmed with a thin glowing circle of pink.  He must be staying at the hospital with her. Or he could be drinking again, every night.  She went back and sat on the edge of Abigail’s bed now that Jase’s sister had taken a phone call in the hallway.

“How are your parents?” Abigail said, her voice cracking.

The mundane question was now impossible to answer, Ala realized as she tried to come up with a natural response.  She had answered this question so many times in her life and now had no idea what to say.  She did not know what they were doing, and frighteningly, did not want to know.  Any clues she uncovered she immediately flushed from her mind.

“They are the same,” she lied.

Abigail nodded.

“I’ll bet they’re using the boat quite a bit this summer.”

“A few weekends.”

“Your mother is so gracious. Please tell her I said hello.”

“I’ll tell her.” Ala thought of when Jase’s family had come to town and Abigail’s suitcase had been lost.  Ala’s mother provided her with clothes the entire weekend.  Some of the gowns had never been worn before that she had saved for the occasion, and she handed them right over to Abigail. It was out of character.  But now Ala knew it was because her mother had thought she was going to marry Jase and wanted to be nice. She wanted everything to be good between the families.  She thought there was a future.

Now there was Danno.  She was excited just thinking of his face and almost felt guilty picturing him, as she sit at Abigail’s bedside.  She neglected to care about her own parents accepting him, but was concerned about what Jase’s parents would think of him. Danno was a different speed.  He was a man. Jase was also a man, but she had watched him become one.  He knew as much as she did when they began dating.  She felt her face burning up and pushed him out of her thoughts.

“How long are you in town?” Jase’s father asked.

“I’m not exactly sure.”

“Are you staying with your family for the whole summer?”

“Yes,” she said, feeling herself becoming anxious.  She was afraid she would start to stutter.

“That’s a long time.”

“Well, I got a job.”

Everyone looked in her direction.  A job meant permanence.  She would be away permanently with no plans to come back to Boston.

“Doing what?” Jase said, growing tired of keeping up composure.

“I’m house-sitting for a friend who is away on business.”

“Oh,” Jase let out a chuckle, “That’s like a lifeguard job, or babysitting. A summer job.”

It infuriated her when he summed up her life in one phrase.  He had a way of simplifying her experiences and making it sound like she never had any kind of vision for a long term plan.

“Actually, it’s not just for the summer.  And it does pay quite well.”

“Oh I believe it,” Abigail said, spooning up a clump of ice chips into her mouth, “People will pay for peace of mind and you are very trustworthy.”

“Well, Jase is right.  It’s no reason to disrupt an entire summer,” his father said.

The baby began to cry. Coffi stood up and pulled her skirt down with one hand, while bobbing him up and down.  Jase’s brother turned from the window.

“Could you take him outside?”

She did and Ala watched him roll his eyes and go back to his call.

“I was looking for a job.  It’s difficult now to find any. And this one found me.”

“That’s wonderful darling,” Abigail said.

“It’s still not a future,” his father said.

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segment 46


Ala couldn’t help but think that Gene was still upset about Lisa.  She had been his girlfriend in high school who wound up pregnant.  Her parents tried to force her to get an abortion and while running out of her house, she was hit by a car.

It was a shock to the entire school.  Ala was the only one Gene had told that Lisa was pregnant.

She was now paralyzed and had to be washed, clothed and fed by other people.  Gene’s parents encouraged him to move on.  He was so young and had his whole life ahead of him.  Ala knew they weren’t trying to be cruel, but he was never the same after.

Her straw tried to make its way through the ice to collect any remaining liquid in the bottom of the glass.  She ordered another.  They played checkers, moving the chipped plastic pieces sloppily around the board, laughing when forgetting who was black and who was red.  At one point Gene made a lewd remark to the waitress and Ala felt herself mouth “Sorry” when he wasn’t looking.

Around midnight, they ordered onion rings and Ala switched to sparkling water.  The three drinks she had that day, mixing with the heat and anxiety, gave her a stomachache.  Gene was remarkably sober by the time the food arrived.  They ate quietly.  Gene paid the bill and they left.

Walking back to his car, Gene grabbed her elbow and kissed her on the mouth.  It was clean and she couldn’t smell liquor.  It was nice. She kissed him back and then giggled to cut through the depth of the situation.

 

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