Leaving the country for the summer can be kind of a big deal for 15-year-old girls. While it is not always the case, a venture like this can be a game-changer, moreover, a life-changer; going to Rome for three weeks of the three months of freedom between academic years did more than alter her worldly perspective, it deeply affected Lily Walner’s romantic spirit.
Standing with her family at the terminal gate where they would start the first leg of a journey halfway around the globe, Lily’s eyes flitted between the paperback she held open in her hands and the young couple that was seated at the neighboring gate. She hadn’t completed a page in over five minutes, her eyes forgetting their place each time she looked back at the yellowed page. She held the book as a clever decoy while her investigative imagination attempted to decipher this exact moment in the couple’s lifespan. Since the time they had sat down on the far end of the gate’s seating arena, watching the planes’ patiently taxi, they had taken their eyes off of each other only once, and that is when the girl had abruptly sneezed. The young man, with his frosty blue eyes and hair a few shades lighter than the yellow of Lily’s used book, offered a folded kleenex from a travel pack he’d quickly procured, an act that Lily used to justify her calling him a gentleman. The girl had shyly accepted the tissue, partially hiding her half-embarrassed smile within its fold. Who knew where the sneeze had landed? Lily knew the boy did not care. Investigator Lily called the girl Lucky, because Lily would feel as such to have someone like The Gentleman hand her a tissue after a whooper sneeze like that which was procured by the girl. She looked back down to the words on her page, blurred by the rise in her cheeks from the smile the couple’s minuscule act of love had brought to her face. It was then she knew she had to write the letter to her own boy, the one waiting for her back home, who she would return to after this three-week European stint. Lily thought about the contents of her carry-on, realizing with slight disdain that she had not a scrap of paper packed within the knapsack. Her notebook sat in her luggage, which sat in the belly of the plane, thus it would not become the canvas upon which this letter would be penned.
A bell-tone followed by a boarding announcement interrupted her thoughts. Her kid brother, Thomas, elbowed at her ribs excitedly to get up. She tucked the paperback into her bag and fell into line with her family. Glancing up to where the couple had been seated, she realized they did not share her Roman destination. She silently wished them well, thanking them for allowing her to witness the sneeze and tissue gesture. It had loosened a stone in her heart that began an avalanche of thoughts and emotions she desperately needed to direct into words. Once seated and buckled, Lily search in the pocket on the seat-back in from of her and pulled out the object that would capture the slew of sliding feelings she needed to snapshot for her boyfriend of two and a half years, Lance–a barf bag.
To be continued…