I’m building up a little cushion because I have to go out of town (again) this weekend, so 3,655 words today. That puts my three-day total at 9,828. Man, just seventy-eight from 10,000!
Our little romance was progressing so sweetly, I figured it was time to throw in a little angst. Here’s an excerpt from today’s work (unedited, of course):
Mai decided not to pass up the loo before the ride back to London, and when she emerged from the stall, she saw a British Airways flight attendant standing by the sinks. Mai gave her no heed and began to wash her hands; then, she sensed someone close. The flight attendant was now next to her, practically in her personal space. Mai straightened and pulled some paper towels free to dry her hands.
“Do I know you?” Mai asked, her eyes taking in the uniform and the name tag. Lots of piping, so a senior flight attendant, whose name was Pamela Higgins. Mai judged her to be mid-thirties.
“I thought I should warn you,” Higgins said, her accent the one trained into flight attendants who served first class passengers, one good enough to fool Americans or anyone else but easily recognized as affected by the English.
“Excuse me?” Mai said.
“The man you were with, Alex Burke,” Higgins said.
Alex Burke? No, wait, that’s his alias, Mai thought.
“I think you should know something about him,” Higgins said.
Mai sucked in a breath but caught her reflection in the mirror. She was betraying none of the sudden turmoil churning her guts.
“Like what?” Mai said, surprised at how calm and normal her voice sounded.
“I dated him for more than two years,” Higgins said.
Past tense, Mai noted. Dated.
“And when he’s done with you, you’re dropped like a bleeding hot potato,” Higgins said, bitterness leaching away some of the sophisticated accent. Her face had twisted a bit, but it softened. She gave a slight smile and said, “You’re so young. I never thought it was— I mean, I never realized it was because he wanted someone younger. My god, are you even twenty, honey?”
“None of your fecking business,” Mai said. “And that’s ‘Your Grace,’ not ‘honey.’” No, Mai, you’re not sounding so calm now, if you’re falling back on that bloody title to score points.
“I won’t apologize,” Higgins said. “You need to know he can talk a really, really good game, but he’s not relationship material. I found out the hard way, but there’s no need for you to.”
Mai tossed the towels, which she’d used so roughly they were now mostly tatters, into the trash can.
“Don’t you have a flight to catch, Ms. Higgins?” she said.
“I just got off one. Look, let me buy you a coffee and—”
“And what? We’ll compare notes? Not bleeding likely,” Mai said. She wanted to turn and run to her car, but for some reason she wanted the high ground. “You delivered your message. Run along,” she said.
All those centuries of class consciousness won out. Pamela Higgins almost curtsied before she left the loo, hauling her roller bag behind her.
Both arms braced on the sink, Mai took deep breaths. You knew this about him already, she told herself, why are you letting it get to you?
Because she hadn’t wanted it to be true, because she wanted to believe him when he’d asked for a chance to prove the rumors wrong.
“Silly git,” she murmured, garnering a frown from a woman who had stepped up to wash her hands.
By the time Mai reached valet parking and claimed her car, she’d already chalked the weekend up to a character-building experience. Nothing more.