Authors: Lauren Firminger
Learning To Fly
Copyright © 2016 Lauren Firminger
All rights reserved.
Published by Lauren Firminger
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form, including photo copying, recording, electronic or mechanical, without written permission from the publisher, except in case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, organisations, places, and incident are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
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I always wondered what happened right before died. Are there white lights and seeing your life flashing before your eyes? Would you only see the good things, or would all the hurt and pain come back, too?
I got my answer. I watched the images hit me one by one. From the smells I remembered in those moments to the feelings I felt. I watched people I hadn’t seen in years who made an impact in my life flash before me. Faces I would never see again brought a tear to my eye. All because I had to be on that stage with him. I couldn’t leave him, and now it was going to cost me my life. Could they save me in time, or was evil about to win out?
Let’s go back to the beginning, though. Who am I? My name is Maddison Lee. I was born and raised in a small country town just south of Tamworth. When I say town, I mean it was one of those blink and you miss it kind of towns, but I loved it. I wasn’t the popular girl in school, but I had good friends. It didn’t matter that I could count them all on one hand. They all mattered to me, and I trusted them. I was on my own for the most part. My uncle was my only living relative. My mum and dad died when I was little. Mum died from complications during childbirth, and dad, who had spent his whole life with just one person, died from heart complications. Well, that was how it was explained to me when I was old enough to understand. At the time, I was told he died of a broken heart. That was something I still believed to this day.
Once my uncle found out about my dad, he moved to Tamworth to live with me until I finished high school. Once I got a job and moved out on my own, he relocated back to Tasmania where he has been living ever since. Sure I still spoke to him every other day, but I hadn’t seen him in a few years. My uncle had never married or been in a serious relationship that I knew of. He was quite happy to live like that. When he wasn’t running his hotels, he was seeing a different part of the world. That’s what I was dreaming of now, and I had now finally decided it was the time to do it, but first, I needed one last weekend with my friends. I needed to say goodbye.
Girl’s weekends were supposed to be about fun, right? Girls drinking too much and making memories. That’s what I thought too until I got to the camp grounds. Yep, camping. The last thing I ever expected to be doing with this bunch. My friends were the complete opposite of me. Their idea of a night under the stars was five-star hotels with room service and bars in pools. How I had gotten them to agree to a five day camping trip in the middle of QLD was something I still had no clue how it had happened. So after packing up my truck, Ellie and I hit the road. We had a seven hour drive ahead of us before we got there and could set up camp. Maybe I should have flown instead.
When I turned the music up a little, Ellie got the hint I didn’t want to talk and went off to sleep. I enjoyed the drive with only the music playing. It gave me time to think. I had recently split from the guy I was seeing, and I was using this weekend as my chance to leave him behind me. Seven hours in a car with Ellie was painful, to put it mildly. You see, Ellie had started dating someone new. The new guy Ellie was dating happened to be my ex, so there was no chance of leaving that all behind me. I had tried everything I could to get out of bringing Ellie with me, but we had this planned before everything came to light about her and Josh, so I couldn’t back out at the last minute, and none of the girls had room with them. I had almost pleaded to swap but work commitments wouldn’t allow that.
“Maddison?” I turned to look at Ellie.
“I thought you were asleep”
She nodded her head and spoke again. “I was… I… I just wanted to say… I didn’t steal him from you. I know what you are thinking… I wouldn’t do that to you.”
I couldn’t help but snort and roll my eyes. “El, I think you should find a different way home.”
“What? Maddie, come on. We can talk about this...” Shaking my head, I focused on the road ahead of me.
“I’m not going home, Ellie. This is it for me.” I saw her frown from the corner of my eye. Before I left for our weekend away, I had quit my job. There was something unsatisfying about sitting behind a desk for hours on end when all I wanted to do was be in the big wide world seeing it all. I looked over at Ellie. “I quit, Ellie. I can't sit in that town for the rest of my life. You can have Josh. Hope he treats you better than he ever did me. I just won’t be around to see it.”
“So what are you gonna do, Maddie?”
I shrugged my shoulders. “I will get by some way or another. Sell my photos maybe. I have enough to get me by for a bit. Not one for making any plans right now.”
“Do the other girls know?”
I shook my head. “And I ask you not to change that, Ellie. I will tell them when I am ready.” Ellie nodded and closed her eyes again. Hearing “Going out like that” by Reba McEntire, I turned it up louder and focused back on the road. I took a deep breath.
What was I gonna do from here?
Once we arrived, I almost kissed the ground as I got out of my truck. God, I was glad that was over and done with. Ellie and I were the last to arrive. I moved to hug the girls, and they could tell there was something up between El and I. I guessed they just put it down to Josh and moved on. After the hellos, I started to set up camp before it got too dark to see what I was doing. None of the other girls knew how. I had to stop and ask myself why was I doing this? Then I remembered this would be goodbye. I caught myself looking around at the girls from time to time. Who knew when I would see them all again. Who knew when I decided to come back home if we would even still be friends.
After the camp had been set up, we showered and relaxed. We got a campfire going and had some music playing while we had a few drinks. The rest of the weekend would start tomorrow, but for now, it was just me and the girls. Taking a sip of my Southern Comfort and lime, I took a deep breath. Looking up, I went to open my mouth when Ellie’s phone started ringing. She looked at me before getting up and walking away from the group. I downed the rest of my drink after that.
“Are you okay Maddie?”
“Just peachy Jas.” With a sigh, I got up and walked away to make another drink. Hearing someone come up behind me, I looked over my shoulder.
“Come on Maddie, we have been best friends since preschool. What’s going on in that pretty little head of yours?” By now, the girls had stopped talking to listen to the conversation. Looking past them to Ellie, I could tell she was listening too despite the phone still being in her hand. I moved to sit down with my drink in hand and looked into the fire.
“I was hoping this could wait, but since you asked...” I looked up at them all watching me. “I won’t be coming home after this weekend. I got someone to look after my place indefinitely and I quit my job. I can’t sit around and wait for my life to start. I’m gonna start living it.” I took a drink from my glass and just listened to the music and the sounds of the fire going because right now, all the girls were looking at me like I had been speaking another language.
I raised a brow. “After all the shit these last few years has brought me, I need a change. I can’t sit here any longer. You are all settling down and starting families, and that is great for you all, but I can’t see that life for myself. I want to travel the world with my camera and take photos of it all. I want to shoot for the biggest names. I need to do this now or I am going to be miserable for the rest of my life.” One by one, they all nodded and we silently agreed this had to be the best weekend of our lives.
The next few days seemed to fly past. Before I knew it, it was our last night there, and we were having a few drinks in the “bar,” as they called it. The music and drinks were flowing and it was almost time to call it a night when I felt a tap on my shoulder. The girls’ jaws all dropped before I had the chance to turn around, so I didn’t know what to expect. Quickly downing my drink and turning around, I stumbled seeing who it was. Standing before me was Morgan Young. All 6 ft 4 inches of him. I had just spent the last few days drooling over this man. Not to mention the months beforehand since his music was released a few years ago. His hands found my arms helping to steady me as I looked up into his beautiful brown eyes.
“Are you okay, darlin’?”
My God, that accent made me swoon. I nodded. “Yeah, thanks. Might be time to switch to water, though.” I laughed. His grin widened, and he led me over to the bar. Morgan signalled to the bartender, who came over with two waters and handed me one.
“Ya know, I have been watchin’ ya all weekend.”
“That’s funny, Morgan, I have been watching you, too.” I grinned and took a sip of my water.
“See now that’s unfair, darlin’. You know my name but I don’t know yours.”
I held my hand out to him. “Maddie.”
Moving outside for some fresh air with Morgan, I kept sipping my water. The air inside had been thick while the girls and I had been dancing in the bar, so it was good to get away from it all. Walking a little way down the path, I found some logs and took a seat on one while Morgan sat on the other. “Are you headed back to the States tomorrow?” I asked.
Morgan shook his head. “No, I was taking some time off while I was here to just unwind. Touring these last few months has been crazy.”
I nodded. “You’ll love it. It’s a beautiful country.”
His eyes never left me. “I like the gorgeous views I have seen so far.” I felt heat rush to my cheeks and knew my face would be red right now. Clearing my throat, I took another drink. “Are you headed back to your partner tomorrow, Maddie?”