“Yeah, my gran’mother’s leavin’ t’morrow,” Teddy Kilter told Shelle.
“Are you taking her to the San Diego Airport?” Shelle inquired.
“Can I come with you? Please?”
“I guess. My mom won’t care a bit. We’ll swing by your ho’se t’morrow and pick you up.”
“Don’t forget. I really need to go with you.”
Shelle bestowed a grin on Teddy and then turned, happy now that getting a ticket wasn’t a problem. Everything seemed to be falling neatly into place. God wanted her to go on this trip, she thought, because all this was happening to her advantage. Well, she’d ride with Teddy and pick up her ticket—“Non-stop flight to London,” she said to herself—but there was a slight problem—who’d sign for the ticket? She couldn’t pick it up without a parent or—she smiled—an adult signature.
True to his word, Teddy “swung” by Shelle’s house with his family and she “loaded up” into the car. She chose a seat by a window and stared into space.
“What’s your name, girl?” a lady’s voice demanded to know.
“What?” Shelle responded, her thoughts full of James and Lindy.
“What. Is. Your. Name?” the woman, Teddy’s grandmother, asked, with each of her words a sentence.
Shelle blushed hotly.
“My name’s Shelle,” Shelle replied, blush fading.
“Don’t you have a last name? Stanley, is it? So, Shelle Stanley, what’re you riding with an owld liddy fer?”
Why don’t they talk right? Shelle wondered, a bit irritably. I know they can; I’ve heard them. It sounds like they’re too lazy to speak the right word.
“Ahhh! Spunky kid! Well, m’dear, I’m jist curious.”
“I’m not a ‘my dear,’ if that’s the word you were using,” Shelle replied. She sensed something about the grandmother that she didn’t like and what she sensed made her retreat into herself as if it were a very bad smell. “I’m going to pick up an airline ticket, anyway,” Shelle finished loftily, and then turned to the window again.
Teddy’s grandmother felt like whacking this strange child with those grayish-blue-green-gold-brown eyes full of the childhood dreams that the grandmother would never have again. She felt something different about this soul beside her and wondered what it was. But she hid her wonderment as she fell to questioning Teddy about girls and if he liked Miss Impertinence who was sitting beside her. To the comments about Shelle, Teddy could only colour to his eyes and look away.
They finally got to the airport and Shelle waited politely for Teddy’s grandmother to board her flight. When she did, Shelle was caught up in a huge family group-hug, with
kisses and farewells: “Good-bye, Gran’ma” “Good-bye, Teddy and ’bye, Spunky Shelle” “We love you” “ ‘Bye, ’bye!”
Teddy and his family were walking out the way they came in; a way that passed by the Southbest Airlines’ ticket desk.
“Mrs. Kilter,” Shelle said loudly, “could you please come with me to that ticket desk over there--” she waved her hand “—I’ve got to pick up something.”
“Sure, honey,” Mrs. Kilter answered smilingly. “Bob, Teddy, we’ll meet you in the car.”
Shelle got in line and was soon at the head of it.
The attendant got on the computer as Shelle turned to face Teddy’s mother.
“Mrs. Kilter,” she implored, “could you please sign for my ticket?”
“Okay, sweetheart,” Mrs. Kilter replied, figuring that Shelle was just getting a ticket that her parents had paid for, but hadn’t a clue to the truth. She signed the ticket and Shelle crammed it happily into her pocket.
“Thanks, ma’am,” Shelle grinned, already on the flight to London in her mind. ,p> “You’re welcome, dear. Where are you going, by the way?”
“Camp,” Shelle quickly supplied. “It’s a bit away from here.”
In her own mind, Shelle was grinning at her work. Her parents believed that she was going to camp also and she had told them that she would pay for it with her own money—but they didn’t know that the camp idea was a lie and that she was going to spend five glorious weeks in the English countryside.