Episode 087

Melinda’s Journal

Friday, December 29

When I was in fourth grade, one of my classmates invited everyone over for a party. It was the first time I had ever been to Addison’s house, and I was a little intimidated by how big it was. She had so many toys and she wouldn’t let any of us play with them. Instead, she spent most of the party telling us about how expensive everything was. She also bossed most of us around, and it was clear that she thought she was better than all the rest of us. I didn’t have any fun and didn’t really want to be her friend after that.

About two years later, my family moved across town to a house that was even bigger. My two best friends immediately reminded me of that party and I promised them I would never become like Addison. I also told myself I would never be friends with anyone like that. Because money does not make one person better than someone else. Attitude does.

Melinda’s Story

I was eating breakfast on Friday morning when the phone rang. My mother was cleaning the kitchen and answered it first.

“Hello? . . . Oh, hi Kara.”

She didn’t mean Pat’s mother, did she? But what other Kara did she know? I had no choice but to eavesdrop.

“It was lovely, thank you. How was your Christmas? . . . That sounds exhausting.” My mother gave a short laugh as she listened to whatever Mrs. Evans was saying.

“I didn’t realize you could use your phone on a plane . . . Really? That’s . . . Yeah. It still kinda is . . . Oh, I think that’s a great idea. Joey would love it.”

I was scared. What would my brother love? What plans was my mother making without me?

“No. Definitely no. I mean, I agree with you. I’m not comfortable with that idea, either . . . I’m okay with that, but I will leave it up to her. I might surprise her, though . . . You know, I don’t know what the doctor said. I will tell her. I imagine she can. I mean, she’s able to shower, right?”

Discussing my bathing habits with my boyfriend’s mother? That was just going too far. I could feel my cheeks getting warm. I had to interrupt. “Are you talking about me?”

My mother put the phone against her shoulder. “Mrs. Evans wants to know if you are allowed to swim with your ankle.”

I sat up a little straighter. “Oh. Is the pool fixed? Yeah. He mentioned swimming might be good therapy for it.”

“Would you like to go over there today?”

“I thought they were in Florida.”

“They’re home for the day.”

“Sure. Sounds fun.” It sounded like a lot more than fun. Unless my brother was coming. Then it didn’t sound as fun. I listened closely to see if I could get anymore details.

“Melinda would love to visit . . . Great. I’ll see you in an hour.”

As soon as my mother hung up the phone, I started interrogating her. “What would Joey like? Is he coming to Walter’s house?”

My mother smirked as she returned the phone to its base. “No. It’s a surprise.”

Since my dad was working, he didn’t join us when my brother and I climbed into our mother’s car. Despite our barrage of questions, she refused to give us any hints about where we were going. When she didn’t get on the highway, I assumed we weren’t going to Walter’s house.

In fact, I had no idea where she was going. We drove to the neighboring town, to a neighborhood I had never seen. At the end of the road was a small private airport I never knew existed.

As my mother pulled into the parking lot, I sent her a curious look. “Why are we here?”

Joey didn’t wait for an answer. He was out of the car before my mother even turned off the engine.

“This is so cool! I didn’t know this was here!”

As I climbed out, I noticed a large brick building where the airplanes park. I wracked my brain, but I couldn’t remember what it was called. Adjacent to it was a smaller one-story brick building with lots of windows and a blue awning emblazoned with the logo Barnstormers.

Joey and I followed our mother into the smaller of the two buildings. We were in a small reception area where my crutches clacked along the marble tiled floor.

My mother pointed to a small glass-walled room to my right. “Why don’t you kids go over there?”

Joey eagerly ran to the windows, where he could clearly see the runway. My mother headed towards the wood-paneled desk where a bored-looking woman was playing on her phone. With a shrug, I followed my brother.

As I came up beside him, he shouted unnecessarily. “Hey, look! There’s an airplane leaving.”

I had been on a plane a few times in my life. But, always big commercial jets. I didn’t realize small planes were real. I thought they were only on television. But Joey was pointing to a plane that wasn’t much bigger than my mother’s car. The entire front was made of glass and I could easily see the pilot. While he looked comfortable, I didn’t think there was room for anyone else in that plane.

But that wasn’t what surprised me. The plane had a propeller in the front. I thought only old planes in old movies had those.

Joey and I watched the plane taxi along the runway, then gather speed and take off. A few moments later, another plane landed. This one was much larger, though not nearly the size of a commercial jet. Its wings bent upward at the tips and it had about half a dozen windows on its side. There were two large engines, one on each side of the tail, which was painted a bright blue.

“Does that say cAvemEn on the side?” Joey squinted out the window to get a better look.

I examined the tail a little more carefully as the plane slowed down. “It’s spelled differently.”

My mother came up behind me. “What do you mean?”

I squinted at the letters. “Well, the band’s logo. The first four letters are capital for the first names of the guys in the band. Then, the last three letters, their last names, are all lowercase. But, the plane has all the letters lowercase, except the A and the E in men—” It clicked. I spun around quickly to look at my mother, dropping one of my crutches. “Is that Mr. Evans’s plane?”

My mother smiled, her phone signaling an incoming text as she bent to retrieve my crutch. I turned back to the plane and watched it taxi into the adjacent building.

My mother passed me my crutch. “Come on. They invited us to take a look.”

Joey’s eyes lit up. “Are we going to fly in it?”

“No. We’re just looking around.”

I followed my mother and brother back through the reception area to a door just beside the desk. It opened into a cavernous room. Joey ran ahead of us as the Evans’s plane was parking alongside a smaller plane similar to the one I had just watched take off. The door opened, swinging stairs downward, and I saw Mrs. Evans smiling at us from the open doorway.

The woman wearing jeans and a purple sweater, with her bright red hair pulled back in a playful ponytail, did not look like someone who had starred in nearly a hundred movies over the past thirty-something years. A moment later, her eighteen-year-old clone was standing beside her, also smiling.

I let my brother and mother go up the stairs first. It took me a little longer with my crutches. As soon as I entered the plane, I saw Joey was in the cockpit on my left with Walter, Pat, and their father. To my right, my mother was talking with Meghan and Mrs. Evans. I wasn’t sure which direction I was supposed to turn.

Walter found me first. He smiled brightly and came to give me a big hug. “Mom didn’t tell us you were meeting us here! Come on. Lemme give you the tour!”

He took a few steps towards our mothers before stopping and turning. On his right was a black counter with a faucet and sink, the bowl of which had a cover that matched the counter. Above the counter were clear cabinets, through which I could see cups and plates. Underneath and along the sides were numerous cabinets and drawers.

“This is the galley. And that’s my room.” Walter pointed to his left, a small room which contained a single reclining chair, two oval windows, a small screen, some cup holders, and some audio jacks.

“It is not!” Behind him, Meghan rolled her eyes. “It’s supposed to be for the flight crew. But rarely have any. Walter thinks it’s his because it’s so close to the kitchen.”

Walter leaned close to whisper conspiratorially in my ear. “I’ll tell you the real reason later.”

He led the way into the main cabin, past four black leather chairs, two on each side. Each chair had a window and was facing its partner. The chairs on the right had a table between them and, glancing at the opposite side of the plane, I could see how the table most likely folded into a hidden compartment under the window.

My mother and Mrs. Evans were speaking near a group of four chairs clustered together around another table on the right-hand side of the plane. Walter led me past a couch to stand by them.

Mrs. Evans smiled at me as I approached. “Hi, dear. How are you?”

I rested my left toe on the ground, putting all my weight on her right foot long enough to wave my crutches a couple of inches in front of me. “I’m managing.”

Walter frowned at his mother. “You didn’t tell us she was coming!”

“I wanted to surprise you. And I didn’t want your brother distracted.”

I looked between Walter and his mother. “Why not?”

Walter shook his head, mouthing later before squeezing past his mother. “Be right back.”

I watched Walter pass through what had to be a bathroom and open a door on its opposite side. A moment later, he returned with a couple of duffel bags.

He turned to his sister. “I’m not getting your stuff.”

Meghan made a face and went to retrieve her own bags. Walter jerked his head towards the front of the plane and I followed him to the stairs. After dropping the bags in the room he had claimed for himself, he gestured for me to go into the cockpit. Joey was sitting in the right-hand seat with Pat in the other. Mr. Evans had disappeared.

“This is so cool!” Joey exclaimed. “Can we go for a ride?”

Pat smiled his famous smile. “I would love to. But my mom would have a conniption. I’d rather not be grounded for life.”

Joey laughed, but I just stared. “Wait. You can fly this?”

“Later,” Walter said quietly as Pat winked at me.

“Walter!” I could hear Mr. Evans calling from the bottom of the stairs. “Get out here and help me!”

Walter gave an exasperated sigh. “Luggage duty.” I watched him grab the two duffels from his room before heading down the stairs.

Pat beamed at me. “So, Daphne, what d’ya think?”

“This is like your house. I need Walter to help me find the right word. It’s big. And showy. And completely unnecessary.”


“Hmm . . . no.”

“Pretentious?” The smile on his face faded slightly.

“Yeah. I like that one.” I smiled, but Pat looked uncomfortable.

Mrs. Evans called to us from the doorway. “Okay, kids. It’s time to go.”

“Do we have to?” Joey almost whined.

Pat ruffled Joey’s hair. “Come on, kid. I’ll show you around the hangar.”

“Hangar!” I nearly hit Joey as I waved my crutch excitedly. “I was trying to remember what this building was called earlier.”

Pat kissed the top of my head as he passed, though his smile didn’t seem to reach his eyes. “Can you get down okay?”

“Yeah. Just a little slow.”

“She can’t slide on her butt like she does at home.” Joey ran down the stairs before I could hit him with my crutch. I made a face at his back instead.

Melinda’s Journal

Friday, December 29

 (Author note: I am not sure what this journal entry should be about. Any suggestions? Leave a comment below.) 

Pat’s Story

We were supposed to stay until Saturday, but Thursday night Dad had pity on us. He announced we could go home for one day. We left first thing Friday morning.

When we landed, I let Walter park the plane. As he pulled into the hangar, I pointed to a kid running in from the adjacent office.

“Watch out for that—isn’t that Melinda’s brother?”

“No,” Walter squinted as he pulled into our spot. Dad began storing the jump seat. I killed the engine and kept staring at the boy. A familiar-looking  woman was trailing behind him. And beside her, someone was hobbling along on crutches.

Walter ran to his room so Mom wouldn’t find him in the cockpit. I heard the hatch open and a minute later, Walter led Joey into the cockpit. “Joey, have you met my dad?”

“Hi, Joey,” Dad said.

“This is sick!” Joey was talking about the plane, not meeting Dad. He was looking in every direction, taking it all in. I smiled and started telling him about all the buttons.

I heard Melinda’s crutches a few minutes later, but Walter went to get her. While they were gone, Dad went to go catch the luggage Walter was supposed to be tossing him. Instead, Walter led Melinda back to the cockpit.

“This is so cool!” Joey exclaimed from the copilot seat. “Can we go for a ride?”

I smiled at Melinda. “I would love to. But my mom would have a conniption. I’d rather not be grounded for life.”

Joey laughed, but I was watching Melinda carefully. This was the first time we’d invited friends to the plane. I was waiting for her reaction.

Her eyes grew wide in surprise. “Wait. You can fly this?”

“Later,” Walter said in a loud whisper. I winked at her.

Dad hollered for Walter to help him. When he left, I turned to Melinda. “So, Daphne. What d’ya think?”

“This is like your house. I need Walter to help me find the right word. It’s big. And showy. And completely unnecessary.”

“Ostentatious?” I smiled.

“Hmm . . . no.”

“Pretentious?” I asked a little wearily.

“Yeah. I like that one.”

Great. So, my girlfriend thought we were a bunch of pretentious, stuck up celebrities. I was glad when Mom told us it was time to leave.

“Do we have to?” Joey’s tone was close to a whine. At least he didn’t think we were pretentious.

“Come on, kid.” I stood with a smile, trying not to brood too much about what Melinda thought of us. “I’ll show you around the hangar.”

“Hanger!” Melinda exclaimed excitedly. “I was trying to remember what this building was called earlier.”

She was still adorable. I kissed the top of her head as I headed towards the hatch. “Can you get down okay?”

“Yeah. Just a little slow.”

Attention Hammerheads

Melinda is always trying to build her vocabulary. What were some words in this episode that were new to you? She will add them to her vocabulary journal.