Authors: Beth Michele
Copyright © 2014 by Beth Michele
Cover Design by Regina Wamba, Mae I Design & Photography
Editing by Lea Burn, Indie Express
Proofread by Julie Deaton, Indie Express
Interior Design by Angela McLaurin, Fictional Formats
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to any actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of various products referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication/use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owner.
All rights reserved.
Also by Beth Michele:
To Mom and Dad, you were the first ones to show me that I could be whatever I wanted to be in this life. I am forever grateful for your love and support. I love you.
Everyone has scars. Remember that you are stronger than your broken parts. Don’t let them define who you are.
My nose felt like a million tiny icicles were sitting on it, and my hands were shaking since Daddy didn’t give me any gloves, but I was still smiling because I was with Kera.
The swing set creaked and the poles popped out of the ground as Kera and I rocked up toward the sky, seeing who could pump faster. She always won because my thighs and tummy were sore, and sometimes when I kicked my legs up, my belly squished and it started to hurt.
“Faster, faster,” Kera said.
“I’m trying,” I told her. I was trying as hard as I could.
She giggled as she got higher and higher. “I’m going to touch the clouds first!” she screamed.
“No, me!” I shouted back, swinging as far as my little legs would take me.
We were smiling and laughing so hard, I thought I might have an accident in my pants, but I knew I better not because Daddy would be mad.
“Look, that cloud looks like a teddy bear,” I sang, my cheeks turning pink from the chilly winter air.
“I see a giraffe. Look at his funny, long neck!” she exclaimed, sticking her own neck out and making a silly sound with her throat.
We were giggling so hard my stomach started to hurt even more than it already did, but I stopped once I heard Daddy’s voice.
“Franny, come inside,
“I have to go,” I told her, jumping off the swing and running toward the house as fast as I could.
When I looked over my shoulder to say goodbye, Kera smiled happily and waved as she skipped off to her mom who was waiting on their front step.
“Take me with you,” I whispered, before he pulled me inside. I wanted to scream those words out but it suddenly felt like there was a big ball of Play-doh stuck in my throat.
The door slammed shut, leaving me alone with Daddy.
And even if I
scream no one would hear me.
So no one could save me.
“Peyton! You know how difficult it is for me. It was hard enough overcoming my fear of elevators, but this…I just don’t know.”
I’ve had a fear of planes since I was sixteen. It’s not validated by personal experience so I realize it’s irrational. Logically, I know there’s a better chance of something happening in a car than on a plane, but the part I can’t wrap my head around is the escape route. At least in a car I’m closer to the ground and not floating in the vacant sky with nowhere to go but down, the long, agonizing drop to the earth my only thing to look forward to.
Peyton sifts through rows of clothing in my closet looking for a dress to wear to the club tonight. I say rows because I have a walk-in closet that’s bigger than our oversized bathroom and I’m a bit of a clotheshorse…oh, and shoes too. “Fran, what’s so hard? You’ll get on…take a nice, plush, cushy seat, lean your head back, and go to sleep. Or, better yet, stick a couple of mini Jack Daniels in your purse, and you’ll do just fine.”
My voice rises to a high-pitched shriek that reverberates off the walls. “It’s five freaking hours and forty-five minutes, Peyton! That’s with plenty of chances for it to encounter turbulence, storms, and who knows what else? Just like in
Peyton rolls her eyes and shakes her head, and I realize that I may be laying it on pretty thick. “Really, Fran…
? You’ve been watching way too many movies. What choice do you have anyway? Do you actually want to be on a train to California for three days, or would you rather sit in luxury for six hours?”
I let out a huge groan and a giant puff of air releases right along with it. “Yes, because if you’re going to go out, you might as well do it in style.”
She waves her hands above her head, drawing pictures in the air. “Oh my God, Fran…you’re SO dramatic! Come on, you can do this. It’ll be a piece of cake. I have faith in you.”
“I prefer to call it expressive,” I grumble. At least that’s what my fourth grade teacher Mrs. Hemler called it when she made me sit up front in class because I talked too much.
“Okay, then.” Peyton gives me a crisp nod. “You’re an expressive dramatic.”
My parents said I should’ve been an actress. I was always making mountains out of molehills, like going into a thirty minute monologue about the reason I shouldn’t eat peas, which by the way was because I’d turn green. It was my way of trying to get their attention which is laughable considering I was an only child.