Across the Ocean

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30 Post Writing Challenge: a story that takes place pre-1950.

I had no interest in taking the long boat ride to Ireland to visit my husband’s family.  My mind drifted as my stomach churned with the mysterious sea.  Having lived in New York all of my life with my parents of Spanish descent, the thought of a cabin home with a bare outhouse was not anything I had heard of or cared to experience.  With no prohibition to worry about in Ireland, liquor was easier to come by but who would prefer sitting at a bar stool in a pub to dancing the night away with a live jazz band.  Of course I would do whatever my husband asked and here we were sitting in this thatched cottage in Londonderry.  The north of Ireland was picturesque but all I saw was this farm, day after day.  How long would I have to endure these boring days on this pasture?  The smells of the cattle were foreign to me although the scent of the peat that burned to keep us warm was pleasant.

I stood up to look out the window and see if my husband was returning from the morning milking with his father.  I looked outside and squinted my eyes because I was sure they were deceiving me but as a plane got closer to the field and then landed I was simply speechless.  I ran outside without putting on my hat, I had no time for that, I must rush out and see what on earth had just happened.  By the time I got outside the plane had rolled to a stop and was about a couple of hundred feet from me as I rushed toward it.  I suddenly wondered how strange I must look running in my polka dot dress with farm boots on but I also didn’t care because I was so curious.  By the time I got closer I was out of breath.  The neighboring farmer had made it up to the plane and I stood back catching my breath, straightening out my dress and I pushed it down with both hands, brushing off grass.

I looked up to see a slender, feminine figure emerging from the small door that opened on the side of the huge machine of a plane that I had never seen anything like other than in photos.  Her head was covered with a cap like something I had seen on swimmers except this one was made of leather and had a strap to buckle it around her neck.  Hers was not buckled though, the strap hung on one side and her face was pale and bushed.  Her movements were so firm and confident that I caught myself wondering if I was mistaken and this was a slender man but with her tiny waist and smart fashion I knew it wasn’t.  She pulled that cap off and I admired her brown wavy curls.  She exited the cockpit of the plane with a look of exhaustion and despair yet she was resilient and striking.  I was mesmerized by everything about this woman.  She was so different and beautiful with her original pants that were unlike anything I’d seen on a woman.  Then she said “I’ve come from America.”

“Have you now?” replied my father in law’s neighbor.  I also wondered if this could be true.  Then I realized that the remarkable woman before us was America’s most famous female pilot.  I had read one article about her when she was married to the handsome publisher but I had overheard plenty of conversations about her at the delicatessen and more at the beauty parlour.

As I kept my distance more people started rushing up to the plane.  All of the neighboring farmers had come and soon there was a photographer, and there were several reporters.  I watched this in awe and thought about how women were granted the right to vote some twelve years ago and now a woman landed a plane on this field after a nerve wracking trans-Atlantic flight.  What a wonder this world was, I marveled as I looked down at my sloppy Goodrich boots and the crochet hem on my dress that came from my Mom’s old bedspread.

Just then the household mutt Rosie rubbed her nose against the backside of my left ankle.  Apparently she had tired of all of the new people and smells, too.  I understood how she felt because it was quite enough excitement for me as well.  “C’mon Rosie,” I said as I turned to walk back towards the cottage.  Now the boring cottage and the smell of peat were now beckoning me back indoors.  As I passed the cattle I took a deep breath and noticed a sense of comfort from the familiar stench.  Rosie trotted happily at my side and the excitement of Amelia Earhart’s emergency landing on our farm was behind us now as we entered the cottage and the door slammed shut.