“Why am I here?” I whispered to myself. Feeling crowded and exhausted only catalyzed my misery and doubt about the decision I made just yesterday.  I felt my companion jostle around in her seat to look at me.  She had a frown on her face.

“Zoe, saying ‘Yes’ to my invitation is why,” replied Karen, my friend since childhood.  Even with the earbuds in her ears, she had heard my grumpy testament to myself.

“How long have you been eavesdropping on me this time?” I complained. “And, how can I possibly sleep on this plane?”

With a put-upon look on her face, she batted the long eyelashes of her brown eyes and attempted  a deep voice to quote my, possibly soon-to-be- ex-boyfriend,“ ‘I’m always on to you, babe!’ ”  Her imitation of masculinity devolved into her normal wise-ass grin followed by a blurt of laughter.  Annoyed, her twin brother, Jack, looked up at us from his laptop.

 “Zoe, could you please control my sister until we get there?” he taunted.

“Oh, c’mon, Jack. Stop studying!  You’re supposed to be on vacation,” his sister shot back as she jostled his laptop.  Without a word, he returned his intense concentration to the laptop screen.

Across the airplane aisle, their mother, Hannah, turned sidewise to chide them, her twenty-something adult children.

“You two, stop picking on each other.  So childish.  ‘Can’t you act your own age?’  Isn’t that what you’re always lecturing me and my friends?”

Her friends, another set of parents, sat next to her.  They nodded their heads in agreement.  They were parents of Ethan another of our childhood friends.  He had flown into Cancun the previous day with his girlfriend of six months.

We were all to meet at the airport to be driven by shuttle van to the rental home their families regularly leased on the Mexican Riviera.  The only person missing was Leo, Karen and Jack’s father.  He planned to join them a few days later, after he closed a big business deal.

“Touché, Mother Dear,” Karen rebuffed the parental admonishment with a flip of her wrist and angelic turn of her head allowing her straight, light brown-blond hair to flow across her bare, brown shoulders.  We had entered the plane wearing cold weather gear.  While I kept on my warm layers of clothes during the long flight, Karen progressively morphed into a surfer/beach girl every time she went to the bathroom until she seemed more naked than clothed.

Suddenly, I felt my stomach lurch and my body fill with dread, as the plane lost altitude fast then rose quickly again and again.  I gripped the arm rest next to the window though I knew it was one of the worst spots for germs in an airplane.

“Rave!  On a plane.  Mexico got game, cause no Squeeze for Zoe to tame… ” Karen tried to beat some rhymes, but was upstaged by the steward’s announcements about the turbulence and to prepare for landing.

I chewed my gum faster not just to distract me, but to combat the pain in my ear as we went down.  Karen prattled on about her plans for me.  Jack sat quietly with his eyes closed.  Then, we hit the tarmac and taxied in with nothing notable for me to worry about.  Except, this was the first time I had joined Karen’s family on their winter retreat to Mexico.  I hoped the conversational Spanish I had taken in high school would help keep me out of the trouble that I anticipated Karen would try to get me in.

Page one excerpt from Road Noise Short Stories To Thrill and Chill  2016 © Belinda A. Allen

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