“The art of being yourself is understanding the difference between who you were, who you are and who you can be.” -ccd
Chapter XXVI: A Dream Flight
The flight home was three hours. It’s faster going from West to East because the jet stream provides a tail wind. I wasn’t looking forward to the Chicago weather. I visualized freezing mi cajones off, watching them roll down my pants leg, only to forever rest on the tundra below.
Of course, this supposed I’d need them in the future. The way my love life was going, it wouldn’t make much difference. I hadn’t had a serious relationship since moving to Arizona. Getting better looking each day didn’t seem to help. Hey, a man has a right to his fantasies. What’s reality done for you lately?
This psychobabble careened around my mind as I sat in my seat, awaiting takeoff. The flight was three-quarters full, leaving an empty seat to my right. I sat by the window. The flight attendants were particularly pretty and I enjoyed going back to the galley when things slowed down. Your thirties are supposed to be prime time. We’d flirt and joke. Sometimes I’d leave with a number or two but I never called any of them. I guess it didn’t feel right.
As I settled in, I realized how tired I was. We’d partied at The Drinkmore well into the night. My eyes felt heavy. The last thing I recall was lifting off. My dream began immediately.
The phone call startled me. I couldn’t just sit there. I had to go. It was a matter of life and death. I called American Airlines and booked the next flight. Everything seemed surreal, otherworldly. My father’s call was vague. He couldn’t seem to focus. He said that Mom needed me, that she could wait no longer. Before I could speak, he hung up.
I thought, that’s the weirdest phone call I ever received, as the limo sped toward the airport. What the hell did he mean? I sat back and tried to compose myself, but I was worried.
I thought of Charlotte. I didn’t know what was going on, but if she needed me, I’d be there. I loved her ability to make you feel special and unique. When she spoke to you, there were no distractions. She didn’t just look at you; she became part of you. Your concerns were her concerns. Your feelings were reflected in her unconditional love. Isn’t that what all of us want? Trust me; it’s wonderful.
It was raining and the wind blew the limo from side to side. The lightning was close, as the thunder leapt from the sky. I was nervous, but knew that air travel was the safest.
The driver pulled up to the curb and I got out. With bag in hand, I ran to the gate. The plane was boarding as I checked in. The ticket agent asked my name and looked up. My God, she was beautiful. I could see she took good care of herself. She also looked familiar. I wondered where I’d seen her. There was something about her eyes. They were the deepest blue, with a softness that made me immediately relax. She sensed my tension and smiled. I didn’t want to stare, but I couldn’t turn away. I tried to catch her name, but no matter how hard I tried, her tag stayed out of focus. Her smile broadened as she welcomed me to the flight. All my tension and apprehension disappeared, as I walked toward the plane.
The flight was nearly full as I found my seat. I buckled my seat belt and prepared for takeoff. Our jumbo jet was soon airborne and I eased my seat back a notch. As I thought about Char, I felt a presence behind me. I looked up and was surprised. The beautiful ticket agent was one of our crew. Her radiant smile again eased my concerns as we made small talk. She too, was originally from Chicago, and also lived in Scottsdale. We talked about the beauty of the desert surrounding us and how it was so peaceful. It was obvious that she loved Arizona as much as I and that we shared a certain spirituality. This woman was beautiful, centered, and exquisitely intelligent.
I watched as she attended to the needs of other passengers. They too seemed comforted by her quiet confidence. Physical beauty will attract attention, but a caring demeanor will maintain it. She was something else. I fought the urge to feel giddy. I was impressed.
My thoughts returned to Charlotte. One thing she never did was leave us alone. It must have been tempting to run next door for a minute or two. That’s all it takes for a lifetime of regret. We’ve all seen the stories.
I remember feeling so loved and secure. I also had limits. Limits provide security, which is exactly what children need.
Suddenly, thunder exploded, shattering my thoughts. The pilot announced he’d be changing altitude, that all should remain seated with seat belts fastened. I looked up and saw our beautiful flight attendant. She had a curious look on her face. She approached me with a thin smile and a raised eyebrow. She asked, “Is there a problem?” I lied and said no. Looking out the window, I saw a magnificent fleet of stars. Where did the storm go? It was gone in an instant. As I looked back, she smiled, and again I felt at ease. I was absorbed by her beauty. I thought, if she was my commanding officer, I’d follow her anywhere. She seemed fearless.
I was shocked when she sat down beside me. They weren’t supposed to do that, were they? Her presence was exhilarating. My heart rate doubled. I felt flush and somewhat embarrassed, though I tried to hide it. As I looked into her eyes, I felt lost. I tried to find something to say.
Suddenly, tears burned down my cheeks. My heart ached like never before. She said, “You don’t understand, do you?” I shook my head as the tears continued. Her eyes pulled me closer, as I fought to read her name tag. She took my hand and kissed it. I felt my head spin. I’d never felt such love. Just then, this vision of beauty looked at me and said, “It’s time; you’re coming with me, forever. You’ve done all I could ask, and then some. You took care of your brothers as I’d hoped. You maintained your honor in the face of temptation. Your beautiful wife will be with us soon, so will your family. It’s time; your job is done. I love you D.J., we’ll never be apart again.”
It took all my might, but I finally forced my eyes from hers. I wondered if they were the stairway to heaven. Suddenly, her name tag came into focus. I was delirious; it said: Charlotte. She took me by the hand and led me through the stars, into the next life. My joy was beyond description. I’d experienced the perfect flight.
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Copyright 2003 D.J. Diebold.