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Tiaras and Trucks

Friday, March 18, 2011

Layover

This week's The Red Dress Club prompt was to write (fiction or non-fiction) about a time when you took a detour. Where had you intended to go and where did you end up?

This piece is fiction, and I think the idea is solid, but it didn't come out on paper the way it did in my head.  Any suggestions about how to fix it are much appreciated!

Layover

July 2011
“We have begun our descent to Paris De Gaulle, where the current weather is slightly overcast. After making great time in the air, we will be in the gate in approximately twenty minutes, about fifteen minutes ahead of schedule. Thank you for flying with us today.”

The pilot’s routine spiel trickled into Caroline’s light slumber, a smile appearing, somewhere between wry and relieved.

‘Great time in the air?’ Maybe for the rest of the passengers.

It had taken Caroline almost nineteen years of layovers to fly to Paris from her small New York town.


July 1992
“I thought we agreed on backpacks?” her best friend called from the bathroom.

“That is a backpack!” Caroline groaned, gesturing to the gigantic travel backpack bobbing in the middle of a sea of clothes, shoes, and guidebooks. “It’s useless to think I can fit everything in that thing.”

“Don’t forget these. Who knows what we’d have to buy over there,” Anna laughed and tossed over a full box of tampons.

Preoccupied with trying to figure out what clothes were necessary for their senior trip to France, Caroline caught them without thinking. Prepared to throw them into the disaster on her bed, she noticed the thin film of dust on the top of the unopened box. Her brain made calculations before her stomach could stop it, and blood rushed to her head, her mouth suddenly too full of saliva.

Anna silently held Caroline’s hand when she waited three minutes for the second pink line to appear and held it again when Caroline couldn’t face her parents alone and held it once more when she told the guy who turned out to be a boy when he heard the news.

But Anna couldn’t hold Caroline’s hand all the way from France or college in Boston or any of the places the girls had planned on going together before their lives veered north and south.


February 1993
“Well, you can’t do it alone,” her mother had finally said from behind eyes that seemed permanently filled with tears.

Caroline brought Lydia home to the house she had entered as a newborn eighteen years before.

But she was alone. Alone at night when Lydia wouldn’t stop nursing or crying or nursing. Alone in her college classes, so grateful for her scholarship that she studied next to Lydia’s nightlight so her grades never dropped. Alone when she avoided eye contact with guys in her classes, hating the look in their eyes when she inevitably mentioned her daughter.

Gradually, the sleeping got better, and Lydia began to smile, and Caroline was never alone again.


January 2011
Lydia’s eyes sparkled wildly as she handed Caroline the envelope, postmarked New York City.

“Parsons?”

“Accepted, but look what else’s in there,” Lydia prodded, and Caroline saw an airline confirmation e-mail, an e-mail with Caroline’s name on it.
“Lydia? What is this? I can’t tag along on your trip to France.”

“Mom. Stop. I’m not saying we need to spend every minute together. You stick to your museums, and I’ll stick to mine. You know, Chanel, Hermes, the classics,” Lydia answered, smiling, and Caroline knew she couldn't miss another trip to Paris.


July 2011
Fully awake now, Caroline slid her small travel pillow into her satchel. She grabbed Lydia’s dog-eared copy of Vogue from the seatback next to her and stowed it next to the travel pillow. Gently, she smoothed her daughter’s hair with the singular softness known only to mothers and watched the plane descend into Paris.

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26 Comments:

  • At March 18, 2011 at 9:26 AM , Anonymous Valerie said...

    I just love this! I have a daughter too, and this really strikes a chord with me. Well written piece!

     
  • At March 18, 2011 at 9:59 AM , Anonymous Crystalball1 said...

    I love it!! You did a good job! I haven't tried fiction at all yet...but I live with a bunch of crazies who provide me with plenty of garble!! Stopping from RDC.

     
  • At March 18, 2011 at 12:28 PM , Anonymous Ilana @ Mommy Shorts said...

    What a beautiful story. I can't wait to take my baby girl to Paris!

     
  • At March 18, 2011 at 1:14 PM , Anonymous Kelly G in ATX said...

    I LOVED THIS!!! It made my heart break and pull back together. I don't know why you didn't think it came out on paper the way you wanted it to, I thought the concept was clear and solid and it flowed from one to the next. That was one of the most beautiful detours ever! Having been to Paris myself when I was in college, I certainly can't wait to take my daughter there some day when she's older. this was incredibly heartwarming and so far, my favorite piece today!

     
  • At March 18, 2011 at 1:18 PM , Anonymous Kir said...

    wow, wow, wow...I don't have any more words for you...please just move in with me and teach me how to write...Pretty Please?
    this was SO GOOD.

     
  • At March 18, 2011 at 1:59 PM , Anonymous GalitBreen said...

    I loved this post. Everything about it. Truly!

     
  • At March 18, 2011 at 2:02 PM , Anonymous Amy said...

    I don't know what you could do to make this any better! I loved it!

     
  • At March 18, 2011 at 2:57 PM , Anonymous Liz said...

    These are some of the most significant detours imaginable! I love the way you set up the story.

     
  • At March 18, 2011 at 3:42 PM , Anonymous Ratz said...

    Well i think you have already done an excellent job. Nothing could better this so relax. Because we enjoyed it totally.

     
  • At March 18, 2011 at 7:41 PM , Anonymous Cheryl said...

    This was good! I love how everything came around full circle.

     
  • At March 18, 2011 at 8:25 PM , Anonymous Kim said...

    This was a creative use of the prompt - great job!

     
  • At March 18, 2011 at 10:05 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    As soon as I read this prompt, this is what came to mind, so thank you :)

     
  • At March 18, 2011 at 10:06 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    I was worried it was a little too contrived, but maybe I'm being over-critical of my own stuff.

     
  • At March 18, 2011 at 10:07 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Thank you very much. I loved reading your poem so much today. Poetry is always an unexpected treat.

     
  • At March 18, 2011 at 10:08 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Thank you :) Kids are definitely a whole other path, even if it's a path you make a decision to take!

     
  • At March 18, 2011 at 10:09 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Thank you so much! I appreciate it.

     
  • At March 18, 2011 at 10:09 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Thank you! I was hesitant about this one for some reason. (The execution, not the idea so much.)

     
  • At March 18, 2011 at 10:21 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    You're doing a great job without any help from me, Kir! I loved your post today for so many reasons.

     
  • At March 18, 2011 at 10:27 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! I was concerned that I was making an unexpected pregnancy and the hardship of raising a child as a single mother seem glib or simple.

    And, oh yes, I would so love to visit Europe with my kids one day! Well, when they're not so much kids anymore :)

     
  • At March 18, 2011 at 10:28 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Thank you! There are so many places I want my kids to see; it's something I look forward to so much for them.

     
  • At March 18, 2011 at 10:28 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    You should throw your hat into the fiction ring, especially if you have lots of "material" to work with!

     
  • At March 18, 2011 at 10:34 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    I loved your piece this week, too :) (My daughter's name is Abigail, and I am fairly certain she would love to climb a palm tree!)

     
  • At March 19, 2011 at 1:04 AM , Anonymous Nichole said...

    Angela...
    I am so loving these pieces that you've been offering up.
    You are rocking the fiction, my friend!

    I love that you are able to make us feel sad for Caroline while also helping us to see that her detour was a blessing.

    This line was amongst my favorites, "[she] held it once more when she told the guy who turned out to be a boy when he heard the news."

    Lovely job!

     
  • At March 20, 2011 at 9:12 AM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Thanks Nichole! I am having so much fun participating in the writing prompts. What a wonderful way to make myself take time to write again :)

     
  • At March 20, 2011 at 5:28 PM , Anonymous Katie said...

    I really liked the structure of this, Angela! Your writing is always so good; it was fun to see you step out and try something new...both with the fiction and with the structure. And I think it worked well!

    I love how you can take a LOT and make it powerful in few words. That is talent for sure!

    Among my favorite lines? Just like Nichole, I loved the line about the guy being a boy. I also loved: "Gradually, the sleeping got better, and Lydia began to smile, and Caroline was never alone again."

    This was where the story turned for me and I knew that there was going to be a great relationship between mother and daughter.

    great work!

     
  • At March 24, 2011 at 9:40 PM , Anonymous (Florida) Girl with a New Life said...

    I enjoyed the way you intro'd this scene. Hearing the pilots words put me right there on the plane.

    Please enjoy Nashville. Stopping by from the red dress club.

     

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