Potato Chip Prompt ~~ Don’t Wake Me

Perhaps it was a dream, she thought. Perhaps, if she pinched herself, she would wake up. But she didn’t want to wake up. She wanted to stay in this dream world where laughter, soft and sweet, washed away the pain in her chest. Like waves over the sand with words etched into it, each rush over the shore took more and more of the writing away, leaving it clean and unmarked. Helping her forget.

She lay beneath a tree, the leaves rustling in the wind and dappling the sun and shade across her face. Her eyes were closed, and she soaked in the sun’s warmth, the cool breeze across her skin, and the sense of utter joy that surrounded her. Whole. Complete.

The voices of two children floated around her, and they were making up some nonsensical game as children were wont to do. It was lyrical, as though they spoke, played, and danced to some music only they could hear.

A noise sounded in the distance, jarring, like the needle scratching across a vinyl record, and she frowned. Not the distance, but THE DISTANCE. The outside. Real.

The wind died, and with its disappearance so too went the voices of the children. She bolted upright, her eyes shooting open.

“Seth! Jocelyn!” she said, crying their names into the night air, which was stale and slightly humid in her bedroom. Thunder rumbled and rain pattered against the window. She rubbed her eyes. The storm must have woken her. Yet, this pain in her chest and rising panic in her throat were not caused by nature’s intrusion on her dream.

She threw back the sweat-dampened covers and padded down the hall, her bare feet silent on the hardwood floor. She skipped the board that creaked, the instinct to avoid it as ingrained in her as the whorls on the wood.

As she made her way down the short hall and to the only other room in the small house, her breathing came faster and her heart raced. Something wasn’t right. She opened the door, the well-oiled hinges swinging it open as silent as cat’s paws.

A short sob left her constricted throat, punctuating the night like a knife in the gut as she remembered. As she saw.

Boxes.

No children.

Gone, like the dream.

You Can Always Find the Silver Lining…

…even in a hilariously awful travel story.

There are a few things you should never do in life. One, never get involved in a land war in Asia; two, never let me choose the line in a store, because inevitably I end up behind the person writing a check, using a hundred coupons, and/or price-checking twenty items; and three, which has recently been added to the list, I’m not allowed to make travel plans.

I should have known something awful was going to happen; everything was going too perfectly that morning to indicate otherwise.

My daughter and I were getting ready to go to Kentucky to visit family and I did my usual pre-travel house cleaning. I managed to get everything done by the morning we were set to leave, which barely happens if ever. Mr. Fish had been dropped off with a spanky clean fishbowl at the fish-sitter’s house, the bags were packed, and I had time to spare to grab some cash in case I needed it.

The drive to the airport was leisurely and uneventful. I managed to get the pre-check on our tickets so we didn’t have to take off shoes, jackets, or take out electronics. We had time for a nice lunch right outside our gate, and then we sat to read books until boarding.

That is when the downward spiral began.

I get on the plane and I hear the stewardesses talking about how the pilots were late. Not too bad, though, right? They were only a couple minutes away. However, because they were late they let another plane go ahead of us which in turn delayed us exponentially. That was when I checked my tickets and realized the current plane, prior to a late take-off, was landing five minutes before our connection was boarding. Yikes. I asked the stewardess if it would be okay, even though we were at the butt-end of the plane and it takes time to get that many people off, she reassured me it’d be okay; “I promise.”

Well, promises are meant to be broken, they say.

We land and take the scenic tour of the tarmac. Twice. I get my daughter and myself off the plane as quickly as possible and dash roughly twenty gates to our connection. We were three minutes past when they had closed the door. We then proceed to wait forty-five minutes to an hour, with multiple people cutting in front of us, for a re-booking of our flight. She got us the new tickets, and vouchers for a hotel, dinner, and breakfast. Spiffy. I asked her if we could have our bags and my daughter’s carseat, since I did not want to wear the same clothes the next day. She said this was no problem.

I proceed to grab some dinner, because there was no way they were still serving food that late at night at the hotel, and grab our bags, the food, and my daughter and head to baggage claim. My hands were full so I got on the escalator and asked my daughter to follow, but my daughter refused to get on it without holding my hand, so I drop the bags, run up the down escalator and dash us back to the bottom before the bags reach it and get eaten by the escalator, (at this point I was feeling worst-case scenario was the only scenario and I didn’t want to take a chance).

We went to baggage claim and waited twenty minutes–the bags are a no-show. We head over to the baggage claim counter and wait some more. The man indicated that our bags would not show up for another hour and thirty minutes, roughly. I said, no, thank you, and proceeded to where we would wait for the shuttle.

The shuttle takes around forty-five minutes to get there. My daughter and I load our bags, get on the shuttle, and buckle up. The shuttle driver walks around the shuttle and discovers she has a flat tire. Not one of those; “Eh, we could probably make it to the hotel.” No, this is a sparks flying, rim is surfing the pavement, flat tire.

At this point I didn’t care how much it cost I just wanted a bed. So I walk right across the street from the airport to the Hilton. I’m in line for ten minutes before one of the clerks states; “If you don’t have a reservation, we’re sorry, but we’re full up.” Sigh.

I head out of the Hilton back across the street and do a Pin the Tail on the Donkey version of picking a hotel by jumping on the first shuttle I saw. We managed to make it to the hotel, get showered, and fall into bed. However, sleep did not truly happen due to the massive migraine I’d earned that day. I got roughly three hours of sleep.

Perfection.

At the end of that very long day I was still able to find the silver lining. I chose to stay in good humor about it, and discovered that if I can get to the end of that kind of day without finding my way to the bottom of a bottle, I’m in pretty good shape.