“Ugh, why are we not moving!?” Josephine cries out. She fake whines and stomps her foot against the maroon-carpeted floor.
Cold air seeps into the walls of the airplane ramp, making me cross my arms against my chest to keep from maniacal teeth chattering. “I don’t know,” I sigh. The line to board the Air France flight seems never ending from our spot at the very back. People in the middle let out audible groans as they’re packed in the narrow ramp by threes and fours. A woman with a baby stroller a few feet ahead has to almost push people aside to keep them from knocking into the sleeping child wrapped in a multitude of blankets. The only people behind us are a large couple chowing down on Big Macs and French fries. The balding man with stained gray sweatpants lets a large belch erupt from his mouth – which is still full of mushed up McDonald’s. Josephine and I exchange glances of horror. No wonder the French don’t like us.
Josephine’s face lights up then. She loops her arm around mine and lets a wide grin spread across her face. “I guess it’s alright.”
“Well just think about it, Em! In twenty four hours we’ll be eating crêpes in the city of love!” She exclaims happily. I squeeze her arm. Josephine’s right. After four whole summers of lifeguarding and selling tickets at the local baseball games, we had finally made enough to travel to France for three weeks with the school. “And… meet attractive French boys!” She adds, enunciating the word French.
I nod my head in utter agreement. “Now if we could just get out of this line!” I yell out. A woman ahead of us cranes her neck around, giving me a quizzical look. She has a permanent scowl etched on her face that becomes even more prominent as she burrows her eyebrows in confusion and frowns.
As the woman turns back around, I puff my cheeks out and give her a broad, cross-eyed smile. “Shh…shh!” Josephine whisper-giggles. I laugh, and then give her the same demented smile. “Dang, my best friend is such a hotty!” She erupts with laughter and wolf-whistles loud enough for the whole ramp to hear – but luckily no one else turns.
Twenty minutes later the airplane is flooded with on comers shoving stuffed suitcases into overhead compartments and mothers digging into the bottom of oversized bags for tickets to seat their whining children. The lucky ones find isle seats with easy bathroom access and neighbors that are already cozying up to their neck pillow. The unlucky ones pile into the middle section that sits six wide with talkative seatmates that can’t wait to start the eight-hour voyage with the attention of their victim’s ears.
Josephine sits next to me in an isle seat at the back right of the plane. She gasps and yanks her bright pink earphones out of her ears. The magazine clutched in her hands becomes a reference to gossip-filled conversation as she squints at the bikini and swim trunk clad pictures of the Hollywood famous. “Liam Hemsworth is such a babe!” She shudders and shoves the People magazine into my lap. Its true – his six-pack glistens in the sun as he stands knee deep in crystalline ocean water.
“Do you have chapstick?” Josephine asks as I hand the magazine back to her. She rubs her pink-stained lips together to show how dry they are.
“Um yeah, it should be here somewhere,” I push my choppy blonde bangs out of my eyes and lean over to dig through my beat-up messenger bag for Yes to Carrots.
“Miley probably dated him because he’s Australian. Their accents are to die for. Don’t you think?” Josephine asks as she continues to flip through the June-issued magazine. Her iTouch 4 blares You Make Me Feel So… through her earphones so loud that I can follow along to Sabi’s refrain.
“Yeah, sure,” I push aside Pride and Prejudice and The Hunger Games and a tangled disarray of chargers and headphones. The deck of cards that I had thrown in two minutes before we left had splayed throughout the whole bag. The untaken pills rattle in their case as I shove it and a two of spades into a pile of makeup containers.
“Hey, is this seat taken?” A voice above me asks.
I grab hold of the small chapstick container hidden behind a heap of fruit snacks and lift my head back up to find a classmate’s hand rested against Josephine’s seat. Its Chris from Biology class – not ugly, acne-scared Christopher that picks his nose and leaves it on the bottom of the desk, but tan-skinned, piercing blue eyes Chris. He looks at me with recognition and instantly begins to back away.
Before I can say anything, Josephine looks up at him with annoyance scribbled across her face. “Excuse me?” she asks. Chris only continues to look at me though.
“Oh… Em. Hey,” he says slowly, running his hand through his sandy blonde hair. “Um, never mind. I think I’m sitting with Gabe,” he turns and walks quickly away.
“Wow,” Josephine says, “It’s like he doesn’t even see me. We have to stay away from guys like that, okay?” She pats my jegging-clad leg and snatches the Yes to Carrots clutched in my hand.
I sigh with a hint of disappointment evident in my voice, but Josephine doesn’t notice. She rubs the chapstick around her lips five times in a row, and then caps it – smearing balm around the edges.
“This is actually pretty good,” she says. I take the chapstick from her outstretched hand, and then rummage in my bag once more for my fourth generation iPod. Josephine wraps her dress-length sweater around her small body, and pushes back against the seat to take position for sleep-mode. I do the same, claiming Josephine’s seat rest, but leaving the other to the old man next to me reading a James Patterson book.