The consistency of the speech patterns of the talking heads in the room made Margo’s feel like she had been on a carousel horse in a horror movie for days. She didn’t find anything of interest in anything they said, but still took notes to keep them from looking her direction.
In the corner to her left was Granny knows-it-all with her waist-length, gray, mane that she flipped around to remind everyone that she wasn’t as old as she looked. In front of her was the Impervious Pontificator who could tell you exactly what everyone was doing at any given moment, and how they could improve on whatever it was. The whole order, compiled of those who fit in with the tribe, and two types of outliers; it was easy to tell them apart. Those of the order sat close to one another, in a small tribal council ring, those outliers that wanted to be a part of the tribal council sat nearby. and the rest made up the people who were expected to be there, and those who monitored the tribal council. Then there was Margo.
“Did you get the memo I sent you this morning Margo?” Granny knows-it-all asked.
She turned toward her and said “Yes Coralina, I did, and responded before we all came in.”
“Oh,” she said and tossed her hair behind her shoulder again.
That was enough conversation for Margo, she observed the tree bending outside in the sunshine, that’s where she wanted to be: out and away from this pretentious group of heads.
Margo was short in stature, but not in strength. She was as comfortable in a formal evening gown as she was shorts and a t-shirt, and didn’t give a flying hoot about the rest of the tribal council, or how she would, or would not fit in. Margo didn’t fit into any kind of box easily. She was cramped in this particular box, and she wanted out.
When the last of the chatter had ended, Margo was the first one out the door.
Gracie scooted up close to her.
“Don’t you just hate these meetings? I mean really, how can people spend an hour talking about everything that they talked about in all the other meetings they went to that month and think any of us give a shit.”
Margo laughed, she liked Gracie, who stayed in her proportioned box, until the lid was off and out she flew, like a wasp that was contained a bit too long.
“This is the tribal leaders way of keeping an eye on everyone, just be glad that it’s all they ask for,” she said.
“I suppose so Margo, but these people waste more time talking about time management than most people use. It seems so counterproductive to me.”
“It’s only an hour, unless you keep talking about how much you hate it for another hour after the meeting is over,” she squinted her eyes and grinned, she knew that would put a stop to Gracie’s rambling.
“Yeah, you’re right. Hey do you want to go over to that charming little bistro that has the sexiest male waiter in town and have a nice hot bowl of soup with me?”
“Thanks Gracie, but I have other things on my agenda for today,” she answered.
“Like what?” Gracie put her hand on her hip. This was her stance for prying information from her friend.
“Like… taking up sky diving.”
“Oh, you, I know you’re scared to death of flying. There’s no way you would jump out of a plane.”
Margo smiled, and said nothing. Gracie knew that was all the information she was going to get out of her friend… for now.
Grifton was at Margo’s house by 8:00 A.M. Saturday morning. The weather report indicated showers were likely, but that wouldn’t stop Grifton from taking Margo up in the air.
“Hi there Grif,” Margo said as she opened the front door.
Grifton was surprised to see her so excited, he knew how afraid she had been to fly.
“Good morning beautiful. Are you ready to jump?” He kissed her cheek and grabbed a hold of the bag she was carrying.
“Well I don’t know about that, but I am ready to toss another fear into the missing bucket,” she said.
Grifton loved the way her face lit up when she laughed. She would toss her head and roll it slightly to the right, it was an unconscious move, but one he had come to treasure. Truth was, he loved everything about Margo, and he intended to keep that bit of information to himself.
“Trolley will be flying today, so we will go up together, and come back down together. If you really like it we can teach you how to jump on your own.”
“Yeah, I don’t know how ready I am to even think about that, but let’s see what happens when we get there alright?” Margo said as she tried to keep the coffee from coming up through her throat into her mouth.
The day was perfect, blue sky with scattered clouds provided contrast. It was warm, but not hot, a perfect day for diving. Margo wasn’t sure she was really ready to be such a brave creature, but she was going up.
The plane was a small one engine, single prop plane that looked like it had been around as long as Margo. Trolley and his cohort strapped the harness on Margo, and Grifton checked to be sure it was snug in all the right places. Once they were secure, Grifton explained to Margo what she would be doing.
“Come over here to the plane Margo,” he said as he started walking away.
“Are we going up now?”
“No, I just want you to get used to the inside of the plane, and make sure you know what you are supposed to do before we go up.”
There was a small metal bar to the left of the door of the plane, it looked like a flattened crowbar to Margo.
“This is the step you will use to get in, and out of the plane,” Grifton said.
“That little thing? In and out?” Margo said while shaking her head side to side. “What if my foot slips off of it Grif?”
“Don’t worry about that, you are strapped up close to me before we ever take our dive,” he answered.
There was a slight race in her heartbeat, as she considered what she was about to do. Grifton knew she would be nervous, but he was on a mission to help her overcome her fear of falling, by making it an experience she would want to repeat.
“Climb up in here,” he said from inside the plane.
“It’s so small inside,” she said as she put her foot on the step, and used the wing brace to help her take that first big step.
“Yeah, she’s a little one, but don’t let that worry you, she’s seen more sky time than you can imagine. Now when we get ready to open the plane door, we will be cruising at about 10,000 feet. I will be behind you, close, and you will feel me tap on your right side, then your left side; that will let you know that the straps are on, and then we will be hooked up together.”
“Okay.” Margo was listening closely.
“I will tell you to scoot up closer to the front of the plane then. Once you scoot up to the front of the plane, I will put my right foot out on the step. Then I will ask you to put your right foot beside mine,” Grifton said.
“What if I can’t do it Grif?” Margo asked as she pictured this whole process in her mind.
“You will do fine Margo. I’ve never met a stronger woman in my life, and this is an experience that will change you.” He turned her face towards his. “Do you trust me Margo?”
“You know I do Grif, it has nothing to do with that,” she said.
“It has everything to do with that Margo, everything.”
Margo nodded her head and touched his hand. “Okay Grif, I’m all yours,” she said.
How he wished that were true, this would be so much easier if he could just kiss her now, and let her know how little she had to worry about whenever she was with him, but he couldn’t, not yet.
“I will ask you if you are ready to dive. When I do I want you to cross your arms over your chest and keep them in that position until I tell you to open your arms. This part is really important Margo, you have to keep your arms crossed until I tell you to open them. When I do tell you to open your arms you will lift them over your head, but you will not touch anything. Do you understand?”
“Yes, Grif, I will do what you tell me to,” she laughed a little, but she knew he was serious.
“After we are in the air for a while, I will let you take hold of the reigns and steer the flight.”
“Really? Aren’t you afraid I will crash us into a mountain or something?”
“No, I still have control of the chute if you get carried away.”
“Okay then, let’s do this Grif!”
His smile was partly because of his love of the air, and partly because the one woman in the world that he wanted to share this with was going up for her first time, even though falling from a plane terrified her.
Skydiving~ (part two)
When Margo was seated behind the pilot in the plane, Grifton settled in beside her. The plane was so small that her right hip pressed against one side of the plane body, and the other against Grifton’s right hip. Grifton’s left hip was pressed against the other side of the plane body. The pilot asked them both if they were ready, and then pushed the throttle, speeding them down the runway.
As the plane lifted off the ground Trolly and Grifton yelled out in sync “Food, fucking and flying!” Grifton laughed at the look on Margo’s face, it was a combination of fear and confusion he read.
“We say that at the beginning of every flight, it’s like our creed for good luck.”
“Oh, is that it.” Margo said sarcastically. “How high up are we now Grif?”
“We are at about 4000 feet, we have a bit of climbing to do before we will be diving. Take a look out the window, the view is great from up here.”
Margo turned her head to look out the small window and suddenly felt like heaving.
“That mountain looks like a little toy from up here,” she said, trying to keep the fear from showing on her face.
“It gets smaller the higher we climb.”
“So, Grif, what happens if I forget to keep my arms crossed?”
“Well, when you open your arms it changes the direction we will be going, if you do it too fast, we may go into a spin, which makes it harder to control.”
“I’m scared Grif, really scared.”
“You will be fine, just do as I tell you to, and this will be one of the most wonderful journeys you take. When we first leave the plane, we will be facing head first toward the ground.”
“Head first?” she interrupted.
“Yes, head first. After we have fallen for about 30 seconds, I will tell you to lift your arms up over your head, when you do, do not touch anything. I will have control of the rip cord, and pull it when the time is right. You will need to keep your head arched back into my chest, and your feet in between my legs, like you are trying to touch my ass with them. That creates an arch that will turn us belly to the ground.”
“What if the parachute doesn’t open?”
“We have a backup chute if it doesn’t, but I packed it myself and I have never had that happen yet. I’ve been doing this for over 20 years now Margo, I know what to do in case of an emergency.”
Margo looked out the window again and saw all the tiny trails that used to be roads, disappear into the mass of land they were above.
“When I pull the rip cord we are going to shoot back up into the air pretty fast.” Grifton explained.
“How fast is pretty fast?”
“It will be like a cork coming out of a champagne bottle,” He teased. “Everything in those first few stages happens pretty quickly, but after the chute is open, we will be able to glide for awhile. Things will be calm, and that’s when I will let you steer.”
Margo nodded her head, she was becoming stiff like a board, her heart was pounding so hard she thought it was trying to get out of her body before she went and did something really stupid, like jump out of a perfectly good airplane.
“How high up are we now Grif?” she asked.
“We are about 9000 feet, it’s time to get ready. Scoot over here in front of me with your face toward the front of the plane.”
Margo listened, but could no longer speak. She was determined to follow this through. She had never been one to back out after she said she was going to do something, and this was not going to be the first time.
“Good, now I am going to attach the harness.”
Grifton strung the harnesses together and made sure they were secure. He tapped her once on the right, and once on the left to let her know that they were connected.
“Okay Margo, we are going to open the plane door.” he warned.
Trolley heard him give the go ahead, and lifted the small door of the plane. A swift rush of air, and noise bombarded the inside of the plane.
“Okay Margo, now I want you to put your right foot out her beside mine,” Grifton said.
Margo put her right foot on the “step” and heard Grifton’s voice become small, like it was being transmitted through some long distance phone call.
“Okay Margo, are you ready to skydive?”
She wanted to answer him, to tell him “Hell no, I’m not ready to skydive!” but before she could say anything they were out the plane door falling faster than she had imagined. There was no turning back now, if only she could breathe. The air was rushing past her so fast that it was all she could do to suck in enough air and exhale again.
“Okay Margo, put your arms up.”
Margo did as she was told and felt the shift of her body move swiftly from a face plant to the ground position, into a position where she could see how fast they were falling. Before she had time to think too much about it, Grifton pulled the rip cord and they shot like a rocket back up into the air. Margo was still trying to figure out how to breathe, when the wind noise stopped, and everything got really peaceful.
“Are you alright Margo?” Grifton asked.
“It’s beautiful up here,” she said.
“Welcome to my world.” Grifton was smiling, but she couldn’t see his face, only the terrain below as they glided through the air like she imagined hawks might do.
“Would you like to steer this ship for awhile?” Grifton asked her.
“If you think I can.” she answered.
“Just take one of these in each of your hands,” he said as he guided her fingers over the straps that controlled the direction they were gliding in.
“Got em?” he asked.
“Yeah I do, now what do I do?”
“Pull on the right strap slowly.”
When she did the two bodies turned sharply to the right.
“Not quite so fast,” he said. “Okay now pull on the left slowly.”
She pulled on the left and they sailed smoothly to the left. Margo watched as the scenery changed again. She was smiling, but he couldn’t see her face.
“Okay, now let me take the lead again.” Grifton said.
He took the straps and pulled sharply to the left. They started to swing outward really far, and they were spiraling quickly, then he straightened them out again.
“We are going to come in hot when we land.”
“What does hot mean Grif?”
“It means we are coming in really fast. Just be sure to pull your knees up and hold them with your hands, I will need to touch the ground before you so we don’t tumble and hurt something.”
“Alright, my knees are up.”
Skydiving~ (part three)
Margo pulled her knees up and tried not to close her eyes as the ground got closer. When they landed she tumbled over onto Grifton, not so gracefully. It was a few minutes before she realized they were on the ground. Grifton could feel the heat of her body close to him, so close he was finding it hard to think about anything but the way she smelled, and how much he wanted to kiss her.
“Oh, gawd Grif, I am so sorry. Did I squish you into the grass?” Margo asked as she tried to stand up. Her legs felt like rubber bands.
Grifton laughed. “Squished. That’s not a word I would have used, but squished it is. Squished. Squished. Squished.” he repeated.
Margo lowered her head and looked at him with daring eyes. “Are you making fun of my words Grif?”
“Me? Of course not! Would I do a thing like that to you after you just jumped from a plane?”
“You just did,” she said.
“Are you talking about when you ‘squished’ me Margo?” he teased.
Margo started walking away from him, and it wasn’t until she was a few feet away that Grif realized she had taken his favorite ball cap with her. When she came back around the corner she had it on her head.
“Trade you for breakfast,” she said, “Or would you rather I squish it?”
He raised his eyebrows, and gave her a serious squint. “There will be no ‘squishing’ of the hat.”
“Does that mean you’re taking me to breakfast?” She waved the hat in the air a couple of times, as Grifton was pulling the chute back into the covered area.
“Yeah, it means I’ll take you to breakfast. You know how to drive a hard bargain.”
“Can we go to that place that has really good bacon and hash browns?” She asked.
“Any where you want Margo, just as long as you don’t squish me or my hat.”
“No promises.” she said as she sashayed away.
Margo was so hungry, that when they got to the restaurant she attempted to give the person seating them her order.
“Hold on a minute,” Grifton said. “This poor guy doesn’t even take orders, let alone at the door.”
Margo’s cheeks turned a soft shade of pink. “Sorry about that Grif, I am so hungry, I am not thinking straight,” she said as she slid over the smooth vinyl into the booth.
The rustic pine walls reminded Margo of her grandmother’s cabin. A large, stuffed Polar bear stood at the entryway; it had been standing in the same place for the last 50 years. She had practically grown up in the Nanook Café’. The first time she came in, it was with her father. He liked to have a cup of coffee while he was reading, and on occasion he would take Margo with him. There were small jukeboxes on each of the tables back then, and for a few quarters, she could pretend she was a D.J.
“What are you thinking so hard about Margo?” Grifton asked.
“You mean besides breakfast?”
Her laugh made his face light up. “Yes, besides breakfast.”
“I was thinking about the first time I came into this place. I was with my father and probably about 4 years old. He used to bring me with him when he was reading something he didn’t want to put down. I would play the jukebox, and he would read for hours. I’m surprised he never turned into a coffee bean for all the coffee he drank while we were here!”
The name tag on the waiter’s shirt said Chris.
Grifton set the menus down on the edge of the table and said “We’ll have two of your number 8’s, one with sausage and the other with bacon.”
“And some coffee please,” Margo added.