Because I’m a writer & storyteller and enjoy weaving words together into tapestries of stories both real and imagined, I’ve dedicated Wednesdays to my novel writing. I am currently working through the revision of a story about a young man named Daniel who embarked on an incredible quest based on a series of dreams he had involving people he’s never met.
The Dream Quest – Chapter 3: Family Ties
“Peter said you were in town,” Lucy says, her eyes darting from his to the window behind him. He can see how much more she wants to say but doesn’t dare. He wishes for about the 20th time he’d let the boat leave without him and taken the subway to the airport. “So, how have you been,” she asks.
“Fine,” he replies. He looks down at his phone, busying himself with cleaning out old text messages so he doesn’t have to make eye contact with her. He knows that she is waiting for him to ask her how she is, what she’s been doing for the last eight years, but he doesn’t. He can’t bring himself to act like everything between them is normal. Peter has tried to keep him up to date on things with his parents and his sister, so he has a vague idea what Lucy has been doing over the years. Of course, just like now, whenever Peter brings it up, the conversation tends to be one-sided. He knows that she is a wedding cake designer and is now working for herself. He almost envies her that, and partly doesn’t think it’s fair. Like somehow she doesn’t deserve it given all the trouble she caused when they were growing up.
“So, are you heading home?” Lucy asks.
Daniel glances up at her, taking her in for the first time since landing on the boat. “Eventually,” he says. “I might make a couple of other stops first. I’m still up in the air.”
She looks the same to him. Eight years have not made too much difference in her appearance, except for a sense of serenity she seems to radiate now. Honestly, he’s surprised because he didn’t think her capable of it. Her blonde hair is still long and falls in spirals down to her shoulders and around her face. She pushes a stray curl from in front of her blue eyes as she searches his and he wonders what she hopes to find. He looks back at his phone. They’ve only been on the boat for 15 minutes, but it seems like it’s been three hours.
“Daniel, I –” Lucy starts, then stops, takes a deep breath and tries again. “Daniel, look, I know we’ve had some problems –”
“Stop,” Daniel interrupts her. “Just stop. please. Can we just –”
This time Lucy interrupts him. “No! No we can’t just anything any more, Daniel. It’s been eight years, for crying out loud,” her confident strength surprises him and he stares at her. “Don’t you think it’s time we both started acting like grown ups?”
“That’s rich coming from you, Luce.”
“I’ve changed, Danny. Don’t you get that?”
Daniel looks through the captain’s cabin where he can see the airport growing closer. He wills the boat to go faster. Across from him Lucy breathes out an exasperated sigh.
“Peter’s right. You’ve only gotten more stubborn. More full of yourself,” Lucy says.
“Seriously?” Daniel’s blood starts to boil at the idea that his screw up of a sister is sitting across from him and lecturing him. He stands up, looming over her. “You have got to be kidding me,” he says much louder than he intends. “We’ve got about, what, fifteen more minutes on this ever shrinking boat. I don’t think it’s asking too much to just not talk to each other for the rest of the trip. Before one of us says something we may regret.”
“It’s always about regret with you, isn’t it Daniel?” Lucy presses. “Fine. You don’t want to talk for the next fifteen minutes, fine. But just know that I don’t regret my past any longer. Yes, I screwed up. A lot.”
Daniel scoffs under his breath.
“But it’s not up to you to decide whether I live with regret for my choices. That’s my choice. Just like all the other choices were.”
Daniel glares at her but she just shakes her head as if she pities him. She actually pities me, he thinks and drops back onto the bench. For the rest of the trip, Lucy sits with her nose in a book, choosing not to look up at him again. Not even when the boat docks at the airport. She sits and reads until he collects his things and leaves the boat.
Eventually, Daniel finds the gate area for charter flights and stops at the information desk to check in and figure out where to go. He expects to see Jonas in the area, but so far, nothing. Instead, a man in a pilot uniform approaches him and leads him to a mid sized plane that looks like a corporate jet or celebrity sized plane. The interior is incredibly posh with oversized individual plush chairs, a couple of loveseat style seats and a few tables. The plane is empty except for a young woman wearing a uniform similar to the pilot’s. Her brown hair is pulled into a tailored bun with a navy blue sheer scarf tied around it. Her brown eyes glint when she smiles at him.
“Welcome aboard,” she says. “My name is Sara and I’ll be assisting you on today’s flight. Can I get you anything as you get settled?”
Daniel smiles for the first time since Charlie’s Coffee Shop. “Strongest coffee you can muster, please.”
She disappears into the galley and Daniel flops onto the closest loveseat. He notices there is a plasma style television on one of the walls, a stereo system with surround sound speakers, currently playing soft jazz, a selection of the day’s newspapers from New York, Pittsburgh, San Diego, Denver, Portland, Asheville, North Carolina, and current magazines. There’s even a phone charging station and three MacBook laptops and tablets available for passenger use.
“Here you go.” Sara hands him a mug of steaming black coffee. “Guaranteed to make your hair even curlier.”
“Thank you.” Daniel smiles, instinctively smoothing down his unruly dark curls, realizing that he hasn’t done much by way of appearance. In fact, he’s still wearing the wrinkled clothes he woke up in this morning.
“Let me know if you need anything else.”
“Um, do you think, I mean, is the music system something I can, you know, play with? Maybe find a different sound?”
“Absolutely,” she says. “As a matter of fact, if you step over here.” She crosses to a set of double gray cabinet doors and opens them with a flourish. Inside is a system with hundreds, maybe even thousands of mp3s and play lists in every possible genre imaginable. Some Daniel has never even heard of.
He finds a Foo Fighters playlist that has all their albums on it and Sara hands him a remote to control the volume and playlists.
“So am I the only passenger today?”
“You know, I’m not sure. There may be one other gentleman, but our instructions were not to wait if he was not here by the time we needed to prepare for takeoff.”
“You don’t happen to know this gentleman’s name by any chance?”
“No. I’m sorry.”
The captain appears at the front of the plane.
“Would you excuse me?” Sara says.
Daniel flops back on the loveseat and aimlessly flips through the newspapers in front of him, reading through the headlines until he gets to The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The front page announces: State of Emergency Follows Recent Disaster – City officials declare State of Emergency three major suspension bridges damaged during powerful unexplained lightning storm. Daniel scans the story.
“The powerful storm, one of the strongest and strangest on record, caused power outages to most of the city and affected emergency services through the night as crews responded to thousands of emergency calls. … The biggest impact, however, was the damage to the Three Sisters, the trio of identical suspension bridges that cross the Allegheny River. … All three bridges are currently out of service, creating traffic snarls as crews race to put detours in place.”
Daniel doesn’t recall hearing about the storm and wonders why it didn’t affect D.C. or New York. He picks up the New York paper and scans the front page. There is no mention of any storms and certainly none affecting New York. There is not even a reference to the Pittsburgh events. Curious, he thinks.
“We’re about five minutes from our departure time.” Sara’s voice and presence startle him, bringing him back to the present and the plane he’s about to take off in.
“Hey, did you hear about this crazy storm?” He gestures to the front page of the Pittsburgh paper, but Sara is already going through her pre-flight preparations and doesn’t hear him. The pilot comes over and extends his hand to Daniel.
“Hi, I’m Captain Samuel Custer. Ready to fly?”
“Yeah, I guess. Where we off to?”
“Ahh.” Samuel smiles. “I’ll make that announcement just after take off.”
“Excuse me,” Sara touches the captain on his arm. She leans in and whispers in his ear.
“Right,” Samuel says. “Less than five minutes to wheels up, Daniel. Make yourself comfortable. Stand by, Sara.”
Sara positions herself by the door. A moment later another passenger rushes through the door with a great deal of commotion. Sara smiles and motions him toward the seating and closes the door. Just as Daniel makes out the familiar face, the plane lurches forward and the captain announces that they are number two for take off.
Peter drops into one of the oversized chairs across from Daniel.
“Guess we’ll get to have breakfast after all,” he says, a wry grin on his face.