Jacqueline Luckett

Passing Love

Jacqueline E. Luckett

Audio Book Introduction

Jacqueline talks about Passing Love

Chapter 3

Impatient in the spacious seat of the transatlantic flight, Nicole tinkered with every button and switch on her armrests until she found a comfortable seat position, pleased she’d upgraded to business class. After two movies and five chapters of a forgettable book, she gave herself permission to daydream. Whenever Clint popped up in her head, her stomach knotted in protest. Taking a cleansing breath, she dismissed this musing and what she characterized as his proposition; he’d called it a marriage proposal.

It was bad enough that her mother hadn’t taken to the idea of Nicole’s going to Paris when she told her three weeks earlier. The older woman sidled into her kitchen on frail legs and jerked her cane at Nicole as if she was a displaced animal in the older woman’s glass menagerie needing to be reminded of her place. Clint didn’t simply think she lacked follow through; he didn’t believe in her. Queasiness proved her own uncertainty. The airplane began its descent. Nicole peered out the window at the unfamiliar territory below, released the negativity and let her thoughts drift to the blue book.

Over the years, the memory of the dictionary refused to fade and rendered the navy cover, the languages and pronunciations, the tissue-thin pages larger than they had been. If she felt comfortable with the man sitting beside her, she might have poked him and described the book that generated her love of the French language. She giggled, reverting to her nine-year-old self first discovering the blue book.

Yesterday she’d spoken a few words to her father. Not since the dictionary disappeared had they toyed with French. No recognition of the language they’d shared. If he were healthier, he would have opened an old book and celebrated her trip with a Langston Hughes’ poem written in the city where the poet had spent time or a recited a verse of his own composition. Instead, her father settled into his plastic-covered recliner and recommended she take along an umbrella. “I’m going to speak French in France, Dad,” Nicole tried to jiggle his brain and make him remember when they’d shared the language and he promised Paris was in her future. “I’ll be fluent when I get back.” Nicole teased. Her father had focused on his daughter in a single moment of clarity. “Oh, baby, your mother will be happy.”

She missed that blue book. She missed her father.

The flight attendant’s announcement alternated between French and English. It wasn’t the ten-hour flight, the drone of the engines steady and low, the tremor in her foot that cramped her calf, or the bona fide French that marked themselves as the sensations and images to remember years from now. It was her body’s reaction to the pilot’s downward turn toward the City of Light —a hint of motion sickness and what Nicole understood was anxiety. How far would reality fall short of the dream?

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