Despite himself he laughed. Where’d this precocious kid get her great outlook?
“I don’t know where she gets these lines. Tia always has such a great outlook.” Denice smiled with wry affection as she read his mind.
“But Mommy, why get scared? Planes only crash in moo–vies!”
“It’s not that we sit around watching disaster flicks,” Denice qualified. “I don’t need disaster films playing on the screen in our living room; I’ve got the one in my head.”
“We all have our fears,” Guy commiserated, remembering for a second or two that he was a therapist. The plane angled higher in the heavens and they felt the ascent despite the pressurized cabin. He gulped.
“It’s okay, Mr. Guy! We’re going up, not down, silly! Nothing to worry about.” Satisfied she’d calmed the irrational adults sitting to either side, Tia returned to the magazine pictures.
She started a cartoon as Guy and Denice chatted across her head and waited for the plane to reach optimal elevation and level out so Denice could get up.
“What’s taking you to Europe?”
“Her daddy’s currently serving in Afghanistan. Joe already had two tours in Iraq. We have Tia in a wonderful school and I’m reluctant to leave my job, so we stay in the States and meet him for school breaks and furloughs. We’re on our way to a base near Frankfurt,” she looked at her daughter and hesitated. “To Landstuhl,” Denice clarified. “For the holidays. Joe will be home for good soon but we had this trip planned already, a chance to get to see some more of Europe and where he’s been on and off for the last four years. Are you heading to Germany for business or vacation, or traveling somewhere further?”
The seatbelt lights pinged off. Denice stood up and retrieved a bag from the overhead bin.
“I have a layover in Frankfurt.” Guy drained the bottle she handed him. “Thanks! What was your question? Oh, what I’m heading to Europe for: a conference in Zurich. And I have pteromerhanophobia.”
The child looked back up at the sound of the curious word with so many syllables. “What’s that?”
“Fear of flying.”
“Which part?” Tia broke it down matter-of-factly and her manner was eerily similar to his therapist. “Afraid of being stuck inside and you can’t leave? Or something bad happening? That’s silly, because flying’s safer than riding in a car. Are you really scared of being in a plane crash?”
“No!” Guy squinched his eyes tightly closed. When he reopened them, Tia and her mother were staring. “I’m scared of being in another crash. I was in a forced landing once.”
“But, Mr. Guy, you’re alive.” Tia kicked her legs impatiently. “The crash couldn’t have been that bad.”
Denice laid a hand on her daughter’s knees to stop the kicking. “What happened?”
“I was on my way back from a conference, ironically one concerning phobia therapies. Little did I know.”
“But, what happened?” Tia persisted.
“We landed in a field,” Guy told her, but he stopped there. It would be cruel to scare a child. And, as his own therapist kept reminding him, pointless to keep reliving the traumatic event. The landing had been a bumpy one indeed.
After that, he drove the entire distance halfway across the country rather than fly to a symposium. A second professional trip had involved a long train ride. Guy even turned down a vacation with Stan and Lynn, which forced him to acknowledge the problem.
The Jungian conference in Switzerland offered a perfect opportunity to overcome his phobia. Guy had been comforted by the thought of a roomy jumbo plane. And it would be professionally fascinating; he’d made a snap decision to attend. Now he asked himself, Why didn’t I pick a really short hop instead? You idiot! Guy closed his eyes again and wondered when the pills and Benedryl would finally take effect.
Prepare to meet a hero with dangerous fantasies. A young woman trapped in a cult. A person who dreams other people’s futures. A man drinking glühwein at a Christmas Market as he waits for disaster. And Lynn, the connecting thread, taking a train trip with a seductive stranger. I’ll be posting the first pages to each chapter.
Committing my characters to an appearance on this blog makes them real. As of tonight, they exist beyond my imagination.
Here are the opening pages to my novel Tsunami Cowboys. This fourth chapter is titled, What A Guy.
Tsunami Cowboys will publish with Amazon in December, 2014.