March 26, 2009
Once Upon A Time
The plane finally stops it upward climb and levels out, and the seatbelt light goes off. Breathing a sigh of relief, I pull my iPod out of my bag, pop in my headphones and close my eyes. I hate to fly, but I always feel better once I can pretend the plane is driving on solid ground. The take off and landing are the worst.
Mom doesn’t seem to be bothered by flying at all. Since we got settled in our seats, she’s been writing intently in her spiral-bound notebook, the corners of her mouth turned up in the slightest smile as her pen scratches quickly across the page. She’s writing so fast and with so much concentration it’s as if she is afraid her inspiration will suddenly disappear.
I was shocked when Mom first pulled out her notebook. I haven’t seen Mom write anything since Billy died. She used to write children’s books that were published by this tiny local publisher in Florida, and they were really great. Her stories were what she called “realistic fairytales,” where princesses saved princes from making tragic mistakes, and headstrong maidens had happier endings than their prettier sisters, and – my favorite – all the heroine’s dreams came true because her fairy godmother gave her a book rather than a ball gown. I grew up thinking these were the real fairytales, and I was actually pretty disappointed when I read the “real” ones.
As I flip through my playlists, trying to find the perfect song to fit my mood, I think about how happy I am that Mom is writing again. But at the same time, I have this sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. It’s the same feeling I get when I think about Brandon and Katie – this fear that somehow everything has changed but I just don’t know it yet. Although I do know something about this trip changed my mother.
I’m just hoping it wasn’t him.
Him being John Bainbridge, the newspaper reporter at the Hartford Courant that Mom became friends with after they corresponded about Billy’s death. Billy’s car accident was big news in Connecticut, and Mom would collect all the local papers after it happened, reading every tiny article relating to the crash. When the stories stopped, she kept in touch with John, and he still sends her newspapers every week.
I knew the notes John sent to my mother with his newspapers seemed to be getting more and more lighthearted and, well, flirty, but I thought that was it. Until earlier this week when Mom completely surprised me…