Little known fact about Prah 2.0’s mother? She was almost an airline stewardess. She applied and was offered the job to run the Puerto Rico circuit, but didn’t take the job right away because she was offered a teaching position. She took the teaching position and the rest is history. Which is good because the airline she would have worked for went out of business. Which is good because she met my dad and made me, Prah 2.0! (TMI, I know. Sorry.)
So that’s this week’s Fiction Monday inspiration. My mom said I should have been an airline stewardess since I love to fly and travel so much and then she told me that story.
This was probably the quickest story I’ve ever written and I’m not sure if the simile I floated through it works, but it seemed funny at the time so I went for it. As always, let me know what you think, dear readers! All 10 of you! (I flatter myself, all 9 of you, I’m the 10th.)
This doesn’t have a title, but it should. If you think of one, let me know.
“So what brings you to Lyon?” she asked.
What brings me to Lyon? What a nonchalant way to phrase a not so nonchalant question.
I open my mouth to answer her and feel my chest tighten. Keeping that gaping dumbfounded look, I feel my sweat output nearly triple. My cheeks are flushing. My jaw stiffens and my eyes are definitely on the verge of bulging. It’s not right that I still feel guilty about this.
Not only is this question front loading my emotional capacities, but it’s just a flat out loaded question. It’s like a loaded potato skin. The bacon bits are the stream of back and forth phone calls with my mother a few days before Thanksgiving letting her know I wouldn’t be able to make it home that year for the holidays. Both, oddly enough, have the same artery clogging affect. Running out of minutes on my international phone and having my mother think I hung up on her. Trading “but why” and “because” over and over until I’m on the edge of bawling. Isn’t this something that I thought would make me happy?
The sour cream would be that sweet talking Frenchman who told me I had no “joie de vie”, laying it on thick during the flight about how I was depressed and repressed and every other form of pressed. My collar was too stiff. My ankles looked like they were in need of a good French shoe. Who judges your ankles? And since when is Lyon known for shoes? Like the crispy outer edge of that damn potato skin, I felt my skin contract and the hair on my arms raise. Who does this French jerk think he is? Telling me what I am and what I am not? When his diatribe was done, I offered him one of those miniature bottles of brandy to shut him up and he said,
“Only if your name is Brandy.”
And those little snips of chive? That would be the salty phone call I had with the head airline stewardess about the flight back to Puerto Rico from Lyon. Who did I think I was, leaving them high and dry with one hour’s notice till boarding and no one to shake the bloody Mary mix? There was no one as tall as me to stuff the luggage into the overhead compartments. Who was going to pass out pretzels? Who would walk up and down the aisle with a pasteurized smile etched on their face, asking passengers to, “veuillez arrêter votre téléphone portable.”
And the butter on that damn loaded potato skin? It would be just that: French butter. It didn’t melt onto that croissant I had at the Lyon Aeroport, it coated it like a butter ganache. It draped around it like a fake fur coat. And that was only the butter at the airport, imagine what the butter was like outside of this encasement of manufactured air.
But I can’t tell this woman I stayed behind in a foreign country without a job because of a dairy product. No, I cannot say that. Look at her grin. She knows she just asked a monster of a question. One American tourist trying to outdo the other. Which one of us belongs here more? Except I’m not a tourist. Not anymore. No, no. She may think I am, but she’s got it wrong. She’s about to be undone.
I take one long pull on my cigarette and turn my head from her to politely blow the smoke away from her general direction. I look over at the train station and see a handsome French man, wearing a grey suit and holding a luscious leather briefcase. He’s probably on his way home to his lovely little French wife and lovely little French children who all probably smoke a pack of cigarettes a day. I turn back to the woman. I give her a long smile and say,
“My husband is from Lyon.”