Prologue: Before the month of April slips away, I feel compelled to write something. My writing inspiration has waned this past month, even with encouragement from friends, my writing mentor and the wonderful writers group I attend. So now, I have decided to “free-write.” Let’s see where my imagination takes us.
Saturday June 15: It’s 2041 for gosh sakes! Why aren’t we flying in our own personal transport instead of tied to the earth in one of these ancient four-wheeled machines? My mother resists change and refuses to invest in a sleek new (I’d even settle for a used one) Zephyr 2000 in crimson red with gold flames that can lift up and be off in 3 seconds. I’ve downloaded the info on her notepad, but NO…”We’re just fine on the road, thank you,” she says.
Jax and her mom pick me up for school in their flashy sunset orange Atmosphere Flyer sometimes. You can hardly believe you’re even moving it is so smooth and quiet. And it is so much faster weaving in and out of air traffic that we get to school in under 10 minutes. The old pickup truck takes almost an hour and we have to drive over the rough and rutted roads that no one takes care of anymore.
When Dad died ten years ago, when I was only six, Mom brought us to the country to live with Grammy and Granddad on their farm. She got really sad for a long time. Now she just works hard in the olive orchard and vineyard all day and hardly talks to Jimmy and me before she falls into bed at night. Granddad says she just needs a little more time. Grammy takes care of us, but I miss my dad and I really miss my mom the way she used to be, at least the way I remember her before the flaming air machine screamed into the office building where my dad worked for the government.
Jimmy is my little brother. He loves the farm and even does chores with Granddad without being told to do them. I have to help. Its okay when I spend time with the horses, but I would rather be reading or talking to my friends or spending time at the city center where everyone hangs out. I feel trapped here. Most of my friends live in the city. I only know one other family that still drives a road-bound transport. Grammy understands…but she reminds me that she is not my mother and Mom needs to make decisions she thinks are right for all us. I know she has enough money from the settlement after Dad died, but she’s put it away somewhere and won’t touch it.
It’s a good thing Jax lives in her big house just a mile away. We ride our horses together sometimes. But she is busy with her mom developing their perfume business. Jax is already earning her own money by helping to harvest the flowers that they use for their perfume making. I think her mom is really outrageous. She and Jax work hard but they enjoy spending their money on modern things and like to go to shows and on selling trips sometimes. I wish my mom was more like Jax’s.
June 16: Unbelievable! I forgot that today is my birthday. Granddad and Grammy knocked on my bedroom door early to get me up for chores. I grumbled, but I know if I don’t get up and go, Grammy will have to collect eggs and feed the chickens and horses. With everything else she does, I always hate it when she covers for me. She is getting tired easily lately. Mom, I knew, was already out tying up the grapevines that are starting to put on fruit in the vineyard.
But that’s not what happened this morning. After I gathered up my mess of curly black hair into a sloppy mound with a hair band and washed the sleep out of my eyes, I raced down the back stairs into the kitchen where everyone shouted “Surprise!” I almost fell over in shock. I don’t think I even breathed for a minute until Mom walked over and pulled me into an unexpected bear hug. I could feel a wet film between our smooshed cheeks. She was crying! It was all so…surreal …I burst into tears and we just stood for a bit until we could both breathe.
A big stack of my favorite pancakes sat on a plate in the middle of the table with candles making a circle around a small rectangular gift box on top. Grammy’s hands were gripped tightly together under her chin and Granddad’s eyes couldn’t have shined any brighter. Jimmy jumped up and down with excitement and finally couldn’t stand it any longer. “Open it, open it!”
I could feel my mom’s calloused and work-worn hand pressed into my back, sort of shoving me toward the table. I looked up at her and saw, for the first time in a very long time, the full-lipped mouth that I had inherited smiling at me with with tears still streaming down her cheeks. I started to reach for the box, but looked back at Mom. “We’ve been saving this for your sixteenth birthday. It’s something your father planned when you were just a babe. You have to share it with all of us for awhile, but it is yours.”
Now, this part seems so unreal that I still blink several times while thinking back on that moment. I didn’t have time to ask all the questions like,”What can we all share in that little box, but it’s mine?” Or “How could my father have thought about something special for my sixteenth birthday when I was still wearing diapers?” Or, “What has happened to my mother?”
No, I just reached out and took the box. While everyone watched, I carefully lifted the lid. I might have blacked out. I don’t really know. It just…well, next thing I knew I was sitting on a bench with my mother holding onto me and rubbing my arm and saying,”I love you so much Jazzy. Your daddy loved you so much. I’m sorry I haven’t shown how special you are to me.” It was a long speech about becoming a young woman and that she’d missed out on so much, and so had I and it was time to change some things.
Anyway, what I found was a button control. I knew what it was for. It seemed like everyone was dragging me out the back door and down the sidewalk to the driveway. There it was…oh my, there it was, resting on a silicon hover pad. Not crimson red, but just as beautiful. A NEW sunrise yellow Zephyr 2000 with golden highlights. Room for six, soft synthetic seats with high backs…My mother stepped into the pilot’s seat and patted the seat next to her. We spent the next hour flying through the countryside, just the two of us, making a quick stop at Jax’s house where I got to show off our new personal transport to her and her mother. Mom explained that it was mine, but I wouldn’t be allowed to take it out for awhile without her or Granddad. Jax was actually jealous. I could have leaped over the moon.
Later, after chores, we took everyone out for a trip to the city where we ate lunch in the city center. I couldn’t take my eyes off my own Sunrise yellow Zephyr 2000. My mom even put on a dress and nice shoes for our trip to town. And she smiled all day. I think I might smile for the rest of my life.