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by IE
Rated: E · Short Story · Travel · #2316870
Spring Break woes. Writer's Cramp - Winning Entry
Sagging against the ticket counter with her head in her hands, Adrienne takes a deep breath. She is only one of a hundred disgruntled passengers surrounding the overwhelmed gate agents.

It’s no wonder the agents don’t look up from their monitors. If they had, they would have instantly been pierced with a hundred death stares.

Blossom tugs at her mother’s pants leg. “Mama. I’m getting smooshed.”

Adrienne leans down to pick up her three-year-old daughter, the crinkle of the pull ups underneath her rainbow unicorn leggings just discernable as Blossom’s bottom lands on the ticket counter.

The man next to her looks at Adrienne like she’s grown three heads. “Take that kid offa there!” he yells. “You think I want to smell diaper?”

Blossom holds up three grubby fingers. “I’m FREE. I don’t wear Baby Diapers,” she announces emphatically.

“You tell him, kid,” Adrienne mumbles under her breath. She was first in line after the flight cancellation was announced. She’s not leaving her place in line and she’s not going to allow Blossom to be trampled underfoot.

The man heaves a disgusted sigh. “Some people,” he mutters loudly.

Sadie pushes her way through the crowd to get to her mom, followed closely by her brother Kieran, who will turn eleven in a few days. Celebrating Kieran’s birthday is part of the reason Adrienne and Rebecca decided on this trip all the way out to Disneyland.

There are murmurs of discontent, but even though the natives are restless and ready to throw daggers at the next gate agent who makes an announcement none of them want to hear, they still shift enough to let the kids through.

“Mo-om,” Sadie whines. “What’s taking so long?” At eight, she’s already tall and coltish, her strawberry blonde hair reaching straight to the middle of her back.

Adrienne loops an arm around Sadie’s shoulders, leaning down to kiss the top of her head. “They canceled the flight, honey. I’m trying to get us on the next one so we don’t lose our chance to go to Disneyland.” She remembers a fraction of a second too late that she shouldn’t have said the “D” word loud enough for Blossom to hear.

Blossom promptly bursts into tears and wails at the top of her lungs, “I WANNA GO TO DIZZYWA-AAA-ANDD!”

Adrienne gathers Blossom into her arms to try to soothe her overtired and unhappy daughter.

The man rolls his eyes, turning to look at his fellow passengers for sympathy. “Shut her the hell up!” he snarls.

In an instant Kieran is next to the man, skinny chest puffed out and fists clenched. The only male in a houseful of females, he is nonetheless fiercely protective of all of them.

Adrienne stops him from hurtling one of those fists at this irritating stranger with a firm arm across his chest. “Kieran. It’s okay. Go find your mom.”

Kieran does as he’s told, his ears hot. No one gets close to his moms or his sisters. That’s just the way things are. Sadie tags along by his side. The crowd shifts again to let them through.

Adrienne looks at the man who is now red in the face and blowing air out of his nostrils so forcefully he sounds like a bull about to charge.

“Look, I don’t like this any more than you do. We’re trying to get somewhere special. For spring break.”

Blossom is suddenly heavy in her arms, tears wet on her cheeks as she falls asleep. Adrienne shifts her daughter’s weight, kissing one damp cheek softly. “We promised them a trip to California.”

Her voice drops to a whisper. “And Disneyland. This is the first trip for any of us out there and you know, kind of important.”

“I get you have somewhere to go,” she continues. “But we do too.”

She looks imploringly at the gate agent who, surprisingly, looks back.

“Mrs Hampton,” he says in a voice so low pitched and quiet that she struggles to hear him. “I found another flight. The problem was finding a seat, you know, for your wife? So you can all travel together? And room for the chair. There’s a seat in first that we could upgrade her to.” He rattles off the flight number and departure time.

Just then, the crowd parts to allow a woman in a wheelchair to roll her way through to the front. It’s obvious to every one of them that she’s ill, and has been for some time.

“How much is the upgrade?” Adrienne smiles down at her wife, then transfers the sleeping Blossom to Rebecca's waiting lap.

“It’s fifteen hundred, plus tax.”

Adrienne winces. So does Rebecca. It’s too much. Much too much. This trip has been carefully planned down to the last penny.

The man, who has just received his new boarding pass for the next flight, takes all this in. He taps the counter to get the agent’s attention.

“I’m in first. Give her my seat and don’t charge them for it.” He hands over his boarding pass.

Rebecca beams a smile at this angel who has saved their trip from being canceled altogether. “Well thank you. What a nice guy you are!” Still smiling, Rebecca rolls the wheelchair back through the crowd to rejoin their other children.

Adrienne says nothing while the gate agent finalizes the arrangements and hands her five boarding passes.

She pauses before walking away, steeling herself to address the man who still stands next to her at the counter.

“My wife will only know of your kindness,” she tells him. “And I, sir, will remember that you became just a little more human today. Thank you.”

Sometime later, as the family of five prepares to board their flight, they excitedly discuss which rides they’ll go on first when they arrive at the theme park.

The man, seated nearby, grins when he hears a happy, piping voice: “We’re going to DIZZYWAA-AND!”

984 words
Write a story or poem about a family dealing with delayed or canceled flights as they try to get away for spring break week. Make TRAVEL one of your genres.

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