“Pull the car over Mom I think I’m going to be sick,” I say, with a measured force intended to communicate the intensity of my desire and yet keep me from hurling before she can pull the Taurus onto the grass. I swing the door open. I stumble out of the car and I have barely pulled most of my hair back with one hand when the first wave erupts violently. We are only yards from the airport parking lot.
My father steps out of the car now. I pull back the rest of my hair, a few strands wet with vomit but before I can even bend over the next wave comes. It rends me head to toe and I nearly topple from the force. My father puts his arms around my waist and holds on to me while I continue to puke onto the well-manicured shoulder. Mama stays behind the wheel. That minty sulfur fog from the Union Camp Paper Mill lurking in the air eggs me on. Savannah has always smelled slightly rotten to me.
“I’m okay,” I tell my Dad and move away from him. I stand there wiping the corners of my mouth and testing my resolve. I decide I am done. I get back in the passenger seat. I snap the seatbelt in place.
“Do you still want to get on the plane?” My Dad says, pulling his car door shut.
“Yeah,” I say, drained but relieved, “Go,” I say, looking at Mom who has yet to put her foot on the gas. She punches it and steers us back on course. My mother is an excellent driver.
If we weren’t running late to start with, we are now. I check my bags at the curb and hug them both goodbye, rushing to the gate.
“Call me when you get there baby,” Mama says, as if I am seventeen and I’m going off to college. As if she has ever been that kind of mother. She’s all weepy. She looks like she needs some background music but the only sound is a jet engine whining from the runway. Dad has
his arm around her and I admit I like seeing them like that as I walk away.
I hustle into my seat. I’m the last one to board. Right away my stomach begins to churn. I press the call button for a flight attendant. No way I’ll make it to the bathroom. I bend over the small space between my knees and the seat in front of me. All of my things are stowed safely away for takeoff. Shit. I tug the shopping bag I’m using as a carry-on out from its cubbyhole and pull my sweater and magazine out. I don’t want to soil the twenty-five most intriguing people of 1997.
“Sorry,” I say to the man who has the great misfortune of having been sat next to me, just before I heave into the now-empty shopping bag stinking up the cabin with the contents of my belly.
He presses his call button too.
A flight attendant hurries over with a vomit bag and I switch, handing her the shopping bag to dispose of. It goes on like this for a while before we are in the air and the man next to me can find another seat. I don’t even notice him leaving. I’ve never gotten sick on a plane before. I look around at the passengers near me feeling as if someone has pulled my pants down at school; like they’ve all just seen my ass. Whatever. There is no way I was missing this plane. Not for nothing. I don’t care if I’d puked up my toenails.