When the video of United Airlines flight 3411 from Sunday April 9, 2017 surfaced I was curious because I had recently returned from a trip. Forty-eight hours before the incident, I flew the friendly skies.
As a writer, I’m always looking for fodder to feed my stories. After the “Oh my God!” and “What the heck!” moments passed, my mind automatically jumped to a conspiracy plot. This man had to be from a rival airline sent to tarnish United Airlines or make their stocks plummet. Or perhaps he was planted as a security test. He had to be, because what adult man would allow himself to be dragged like a stubborn toddler refusing to move?
My mind could not accept the fact that his man didn’t try to get to his feet. What a surreal video. Perhaps my conspiracy theory was influenced by my personal experience with the airline.
Spring break. One adult and three teens (feel my pain).
Leaving the house, my daughter felt nauseas. Nerves we thought. Wrong-oh so wrong. She started throwing up and continued to throw up through the one and a half hour flight, and then the layover. On the four hour flight from Chicago she couldn’t keep anything down.
On both these flights the four of us had been separated and sat in pairs. I sat with my extremely nervous thirteen-year-old.
The flight attendant worried about my sick child and found me. She wanted to find a doctor on board to have my daughter assessed. The doctor was more than happy to help. My daughter was dehydrated and couldn’t even keep a sip of water down. Barf bags to the rescue! (Sorry United for using up your spring supply.)
My daughter’s heart rate was elevated. She was so pale her lips had no color. The flight attendant called ahead to the destination and had the EMTs on hand to evaluate my daughter thoroughly. Four Air Force paramedics, two airport firemen EMTs and two airport police greeted us and cared for my daughter. They took her sugar, blood pressure and even ran an EKG. Sitting in a wheelchair with electrodes and wires everywhere, she looked Borg. They wanted to send her to the hospital to get hydrated.
The first evening of our break was spent in the emergency room. Not the way I wanted to start my vacation, but the flight attendant was right. My daughter was very sick. She took two bags of IV fluids and anti-nausea medicine. We kept her hydrated and she had a great time for the remainder of the trip.
Did I mention I had a nervous thirteen-year-old? Turbulence. We had them both going out (my poor daughter), and coming back.
On April 7, 2017 the flight home the first leg was fine. We were seated together, but during the second leg, every single one of us was seated separately. I asked the gate attendant if we could sit together. I explained about my anxious son and the other teens. Pairs were an option. She smiled and said, “Let me see what I can do.”
Fifteen minutes later, I had the new tickets. And guess what? We’d been upgraded. My son and I sat together, and the other two set directly behind us. Needless to say, I was happy with the flight and gate attendants. They performed admirably, and based on my experience, I will fly with them again.
What if the doctor on my daughter’s flight had been asked to leave? Would there have been another doctor? And off my mind goes… spinning.
This writer has loads of material to pull from. Both good and bad. Thanks, United Airlines.
If you knew Elaine McCollum, you are aware that she was one of the nicest, sweetest, most giving people in the world, and I’m not just saying this because she’s my grandma. If you haven’t been blessed with the opportunity to meet her, let me introduce you…
My grandma was born August 20, 1916, and died January 2, 2017. She reached the age of 100 (wow!). Her first name is Hazel, but she hated it. Her maiden name was Scott. She was born in North Dakota and her dad worked for the railroad. He was also a gambling man. This I know from my mom, Grandma didn’t talk about him much. She moved to Amelia, Ohio at a young age. Those are her basic stats but let me introduce you to the real Elaine McCollum…
This is my grandma: My parents live on a busy street. Waiting to turn into the driveway some lady slammed into my rear end, bending the frame and totaling the car (what they say is true: most accidents happen within 5 miles of your home). They had to use the jaws of life to cut me out. I almost passed out but was coherent enough to point to my parents’ house, but they weren’t there. Next on the list were my grandparents (thank God, somebody had a car phone. Come on, this was the mid-nineties!). Grandma, along with Grandpa, showed up within minutes. They followed the ambulance to the hospital and stayed with me through all the x-rays and stuff. (let me add that Anderson Twp firefighters and EMTs are hotties…of course, it could have been my head injury) What I’m getting at here is: she’s dependable. I could count on her to be there for me.
In 2001, I was worried about my Grandpa Werner (my Dad’s dad) driving home alone from Brownsville, Texas to Cincinnati, Ohio. He was 85 (and a scary driver. lol). I was a stay-at-home mom at the time so I could fly down and drive back. The problem was, I had a nine-month-old baby to bring with me. The solution was to bring Grandma McCollum (my mom’s mom). She didn’t drive and loved my daughter. This was three months after my grandpa McCollum passed. We all agreed a change of scenery would be a good thing for her. I was so glad for the opportunity to spend the time with both my grandparents. She was a godsend on the flight down. I never knew how much of a backseat driver Grandma was until Grandpa started on the highway. Phew!
Here she is: Once we had a cat named Garfield. He climbed into the dryer and my unsuspecting mother turned it on. He didn’t live, and my mom became distraught. Grandma could hardly understand my mom when she called. Now my grandma didn’t drive, and my grandpa was at work, so Grandma walked the one and a half miles to see my mom. This doesn’t sound like a long distance, but the only road with a sidewalk was the street she lived on. She had to walk down Five Mile Road, a divided parkway, and then Clough Pike, a curving road without any berms. She took her life in her hands walking there. But she arrived safe and carrying a bouquet of daisies, my mom’s favorite flowers.
Grandma, along with my grandfather, would do anything and be there for anyone. I remember they helped at the nursing home pushing residents in wheelchairs around the halls (most of the residents had been younger than they’d been. lol)
Once when I was in a bad relationship, my grandma opened her home to me, and I lived with her for a few weeks until things were resolved. She didn’t judge or give advice only loved on me and listened. I experienced this unconditional love from her all the time. She was a wonderful example of how a Christian should be.
This is my grandma: When she was ninety-five and still living in her house on her own, she had a list of names two pages long of people she prayed for (every day!). She kept it in in a daily devotional (one of several she read daily), which she kept next to her easy chair.
Typical Grandma: My grandma opened her home to everyone. My parents’, my brother’s and my friends too. We always trick-or-treated on her street. She lived in a subdivision and we didn’t. I don’t know how many people have gone with us over the years. We even took my daughter with her friends once. Every Christmas Eve we’d have shrimp cocktail and then have homemade lasagna. Anyone could come.
My grandmother had a garden. She was fabulous with flowers. If you were sick or going through something she’d pick a bouquet for you. Sometimes she’d make arrangements. She had a green thumb (unfortunately, I didn’t inherit this. I have a black thumb).
She was a stellar cook. She made scrumptious desserts like pecan and apple pie and all kinds of cookies. For years she and I would make chocolate bear cookies. I had the easy part of rolling the dough into balls. She had the hard part of mixing the dough which was labor intensive, but she did it without complaint. My daughter even got to do this with her. Her Swiss steak and just about anything she made was awesome. When my brother and I were little, we’d go over and stay at my grandparents for days. Grandma would freeze peach slices and my brother, and I would eat them while watching TV.
So Grandma: If you were sick or had a baby, moved or just because she wanted to show you she cared, you would receive a container of vegetable soup or a pie. If you’re lucky, you’ve experienced her rolls at Thanksgiving or Christmas.
She made many costumes (leopard cats, Indians, etc.) for my brother and me. She hemmed all our clothes and sewed them when they needed a hole fixed.
She supported my brother and me. Any school concert, violin or choral, she attended (no matter how much we sucked. lol) She and grandpa came to most of my brother’s soccer or baseball games. They supported all our fundraising efforts- school or church. She was the first to order Girl Scout cookies or Boy Scout popcorn. Every graduation my grandparents attended.
When I started Nanowrimo, she was excited and encouraged me as a writer. Grandma was an avid reader. She read romances, mystery, biographies and just about anything she’d get recommended or could get her hands on. I printed out a Novella and gave it to her for her birthday. I’ll never forget her reaction. She screamed and started crying (happy tears! I hope. lol.) She became my biggest fan and a beta reader too. It is because of her I have ten novels completed. In November, I would always write fifty thousand words for a story but would strive to complete the manuscript by December twenty-fifth. I would hurriedly print the thing, stick it in a binder (unedited-egads!) and wrap it. She loved receiving them and said they were good (but I’m sure she’s a bit biased). We had some great discussions about writing and different genres, some of them funny. Here are highlights from one such conversation. Warning: it might be about sex.
Grandma wasn’t made of money but that didn’t stop her from giving. She’d buy small gifts, like ornaments, for people especially children or her neighbors all the time.
She volunteered for the local American Legion Hall selling poppies and their other events like fish fry dinners and carnivals. She was also a Brownie leader.
Grandma was an active member of Clough United Methodist church. I attended the church the first twelve years of my life and remember wanting to sit in Grandma’s pew with my best friend. It was easier to giggle and draw next to Grandma. Plus she always had wintergreen Tic Tac mints or a roll of butter rum Lifesavers that helped sweeten the deal. She was there at all the missionary events and potluck dinners. However, Grandma wasn’t in the choir. This is because she couldn’t hold a tune and you might have caught her lip syncing a favorite hymn (lol).
I can’t imagine the world events and technological wonders she’s seen. All the wars from WWI on. Geesh, how many presidents? The stock market crash and the great depression. The main mode of transportation shift from trains to personal cars. From Model T Fords to Teslas. Black & White movies, mostly silent to synchronized sound (pianos) to modern day CGI and HD. Don’t forget TV and Radio too. And computers! Holy cow. People have gone to space and the moon, developed atomic and nuclear weapons and created vaccinations and cures for all sorts of diseases.
Grandma was married to the same man for sixty-five years. I don’t remember them arguing but I do remember her saying “Howard” sternly a few times. This was accompanied by the stink eye. I was present at the fiftieth and sixty-fifth wedding anniversaries. What an honor.
My grandma was an animal lover. When I was in high school, while waiting for the bus, I found a white kitten. She had a broken tail. I picked her up and ran back to my house and dropped her off. Grandma happened to be watching my brother and I while my parents were out of town. I shoved the kitten into my grandma’s arms then took off to catch the bus. She kept that kitten and named her Snow but later changed it to Lilly because Snow sounded too much like “No”. lol. My grandparents had cocker spaniels, a German Shepard and a black cat named Lucky. Growing up she had a pet groundhog. This was one of my favorite stories. I liked her to tell about “Brownie” the groundhog. He used to live under their back stoop. He became so domesticated that he let Grandma and her sister dress him up. They put him in the bread box like a doll house.
My grandparents were social and belonged so several groups, like the coffee Klatch. They went to parties and hosted parties all the time. My grandpa owned a wine store at one time and had a stocked bar in the basement. They enjoyed evening cocktails. Grandma’s regular was scotch on the rocks. She let me try it and it burned my nose hairs so I’ve never touched it again. She’d only drink one (but you’d figure she needed more after a long day of watching two rambunctious grandchildren–Who me? Never!). She never smoked and I never saw her drunk. Once, only once, did I ever see her order a beer at a restaurant. I remember that like it was yesterday. I’d been shocked. My grandma does not drink beer. No way.
Both she and Grandpa followed the Reds. We went to several games with and the American Legion. They both enjoyed big band music and would constantly listen to it.
I loved my grandma, and I’m grateful she was part of my life for so long. I wish I would have listened more (especially about cooking. lol.). I did take the opportunity and interviewed her back when she lived at home. I’m happy to have that information.
So that’ s my grandma. Do you feel like you know her? I hope so. She was a neat lady. Even after she lost her memory she was still polite, thanking the nurses and aides who cared for her. She might not have known who you were but she’d compliment you on your colorful shirt or shiny earrings. If she could see out the window she’d say, “look at the pretty sky.” She was kind and sweet to the very end. I want to be just like Grandma.
Monstrous moonbeam makes Mai imagine impending mission.
On the continent of Anaglacia, a glowing moonstone is said to be the key to an ancient mystery. The stone is rumored to be a remnant of the Moon clan, a people who have fallen into myth if they ever did exist.
Eudora, the blind seer of the eastern Gizlis mountains, is a local resident and expert on the stone. “The ancient race of people left the moonstones as a communication tool. Only those with special sight can see and understand the message on the surface,” she says.
Is the stone from the people of old or could it be trickers, who aim to confuse the common folk?
“Some say the Moon Clan others say the Elves but no one knows for certain,” Eudora says. Eudora offers herbal remedies to the villagers in the small mountainside town she calls home. The superstitious townsfolk believe in all kinds of legends including snowcats, weres, and the mysterious Moon clan.
Len’nora Baristaran of Eventide, the Mai and peacekeeper for all Anaglacia, claims she is able to see the text on the glowing stone but can also decipher the runes. “It says there are more moonstones hidden in Anaglacia and to understand the prophecy all the stones must be found,” Len’nora informed.
King Durust Berk and his son, Prince Riordan, insist Len’nora is speaking the truth. They witnessed a phenomenon on the winter solstice. When asked to describe the incident both were momentarily at a loss for words.
“It (the moonstone) is an ancient landmark rumored to be placed by the Elves. I have seen this rock many times in my childhood, but the markings were not there,” the Prince recalls.
A sound, like a cannon blast, echoed through the woods. The trees bent as a wave of air undulated outward. Above the trees, piercing the night sky was a beam of white light. From an unknown source, the shaft of light journeyed heavenward to the moon. Later the “Source” was reported to be none other than the fabled moonstone.
“Energy filled the air.” Durust Berk, King of Ormanda
The Berks described the moonbeam as a giant “shaft of light” that caused the Mai’s hair to move as if awakened. Both men were awed by her ethereal appearance, her ability to read the ancient language and to enter the ray of light without being burned. “Energy filled the air,” King Durust Berk remembered.
Len’nora called the glowing boulder the “origin” and now plans to seek out other moonstones. Rumor has it that when all the stones have been found a prophecy will be revealed. The prophecy is thought to be about the peacekeeper and bringing unity to the Anaglacian peoples. Are the Moon clan elvish peoples and do they exist at all? What great mystery will be divulged when the moonstones are found and read?
If you find any moonstones please comment below or send word to Eleazar in Concordia. He will forward messages to the Mai. Stay tuned for frequent updates on the moonstone search.
Some people will breathe easier, and some will go through withdraw. My after-Nano plans are simple: finish The Companion. I’m about 75%-80% done. I should be able to accomplish this in a relatively short time now that my characters are speaking to me.
This story is based on a dream I had years ago. I actually wrote an outline (of the dream), character list and four chapters of the story. Even with this preparation and thinking about the dream weekly, when I sat to write I didn’t feel it.
As my hero and heroine began interacting, the subtle flirting started and he was able to crack her shell. I continued working through the chapters I’d already written then I found an excerpt that Vanessa had written in a journal. Hallelujah! My character’s voice in first person of all things (thank you past self for giving into the first person urge).
Here is the original journal passage:
I left home to be alone, to have silence and what did I do? I sabotaged my chance at solitude by opening my mouth. My good sense was thrown out for a challenge. What is wrong with me? The irony is, I came out here to get away from people and then I got myself saddled to one. Not just anyone, a man! Although, I will say he has surprised me so far. He hasn’t whined or complained about anything. He hasn’t made any crude remarks. This alone almost gives me hope in mankind. Almost.
Losing my privacy wasn’t a total loss because I did experience some things I could not have experienced alone. Today, I played in the ocean as a child, carefree of all things adult. I would not have done this by myself. Alone, I would’ve walked in the water or sat in it and enjoyed it but being with someone is a completely different experience.
The sunset this evening was beautiful. The blue sky faded into pinks, orange, and violets. Clouds were lined with vibrant pink and gold. Words cannot describe the striking beauty. How can I define my feelings?
The peacefulness of the night will haunt me. Yet, I did not encounter this alone. Only he will understand these words as pictures.
Even now my characters continue to surprise me. Things like a wedding dress bought years before by a dying mother and impromptu shopping trip to the tropical island jewelry store, while they weren’t planned, fit organically into the plot and story line. Vanessa and Cole, thank you for taking an active part in your story.
I plan to work in December to finish The Companion. While my daily goal no longer is 1,667 words, I will endeavor to write every day.
Wrimos, I challenge you to do the same. Finish your story. No one can do it but you. Happy writing!