The Skadivers' Tale

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The Exit

The Skadivers’ Tale

1980 A.D.

THE EXIT

Mrs. O’Leary was determined this time. Yes, this time, these two actor-types were going. They were always late in paying the rent, they had loud get-togethers, and they were young radicals—or at least, they looked like it. She could hear them all the time, even late at night and very early in the morning. Sometimes if everything else was quiet, and she listened intently, some sounds embarrassed her, and she hated being embarrassed. “Maybe if they didn’t have the apartment next to hers,” she thought, but quickly catching herself to, “No! No, it’s just too bad for them.” She was the landlady, and they were bad tenants. “They were going, and that was that,” she convinced herself.

She straightened her bushy grey hair and thought about the flame red hair of her younger days. She always thought about her red hair when she was angry; it seemed to make her feel the Irish blood in her. That’s how she would frequently rationalize her ill-temper, although, she was strictly from a German and Polish background and had only married into Irish blood.

Looking down on the dresser, she picked up her lipstick, a sickening shade of orange that she had habitually worn since she was fifteen, when her big sister said it went well with her hair. And maybe it had, but of course that was doubtful even then, and now, with her gray mop, it accentuated her aged face, wrinkled with hate and bitter memories. She hurriedly, but with concentration, smeared it on her bottom lip and puckered both her lips together. Then without looking, she picked up a white tissue covered with the orange smudges of past applications, and pressed her lips together on it to remove today’s excess, which was, well, excessive. She put down the tissue on the exact spot where it always stayed, marked like the treasure on a pirate’s map, only now on the dresser top. An evil grin came to her face as she realized that she liked the scowl better, for it generally suited her mood. Satisfied with her appearance, she picked up her clipboard and headed for the door. She was ready for a good eviction.

It took her no time to storm over to the next door down. She paused for a moment and licked her sticky lips. “All right,” she thought, “This is it.” She knocked on the door as if to tear it down. There was no answer. “Damn!” she said out loud. Now she’d have to fill out a notice, which she was out of, or wait until that night. So, she waited, retreating back to her sad little apartment full of meaningless Knick knacks.

***

Just after lunch time, a motorcycle coasted towards the front of the apartment building, silently gliding between two large cars to park. Sam and Genie stealthily made their way into their apartment. Sam shut the door behind him, and his body eased.

“Whew, we made it,” he said in a stage whisper, and moved toward the kitchen.

Genie, an attractive young woman in her early twenties, set her purse on the table and followed Sam. She watched his butt as it moved around the corner into the barren kitchen. “I don’t know how much longer we can avoid her, Sam. Today is day sixteen in our failure to pay rent.” The way she said it was obviously an attempt to mock Mrs. O’Leary. “She never let anyone go longer than this,” she continued, “and she doesn’t even like us.” Genie was a bit frustrated and depressed, or so Sam sensed.

“So, what? We only need one more day here before we take off, and I don’t know what O’Dreary is so hot about. She’s got our deposit, and that should even us up for another week at least.”

“Too bad she doesn’t see it that way,” Genie interrupted.

“Yeah, well, never mind about it. Now that we have your check from the commercial in December, we can make it, no sweat.” Sam was on the verge of slipping into one of his excited explaining fits.

Genie hated these fits. She knew what he was talking about as well as he, even better. She felt that it insulted her, but she realized, too, that it happened as a nervous reaction for Sam, explaining things so elementary as if even he were thinking them for the first time. But he checked himself. After a pause, he went on.

“I called Terri about the parachutes. She said we could come over. But she said she couldn’t just give them away, though.” Sam looked at Genie sadly. “Skip never got around to buying insurance, you know.”

Skip and Sam had been great friends for about ten years. They had shared in many youthful adventures on their way to young adulthood, which neither of them was ready to embrace, the thought of growing up, that is. Sam had gone into theatre, whereas Skip had taken a more business-like approach to a career and had been doing well for himself. Skip had it all planned. When he married Terri, Sam had been his best man. Being young and ‘invincible’, the boys had never considered the need for insurance.

It was sad, however, that the youthful spirit of adventure the two had shared had also played a role in Skip’s death, a sky-diving accident. Sometimes life doesn’t go as planned.

Sometimes the parachute doesn’t open.

Genie could sense that Sam was fighting back the melancholy. He had taken Skip’s death hard. Friends, which is to say, true friends, were few and far between in his life. Losing Skip had left a tear in the fabric of Sam’s universe. Thank God for Genie. The loss had brought them closer together than Sam had thought possible, and it had been her constant love and compassion that had pulled him through thus far. But Genie knew he wasn’t there just yet. And that was why she had agreed to the adventure that they were a mere day away from beginning. She knew he needed it, and she needed him. Putting her career on hold for a year was not great timing, but it was a sacrifice she was willing to make. Sacrifice? Investment on their future? Or all out gamble?

“So, neither of these chutes,” Genie said uneasily, “are…?”

“No, Genie. We buried him with that chute. These are his and Terri’s first rigs. She doesn’t want to jump anymore.”

“Yeah, I guess not.”

“Which is why we can afford them, you know,” Sam said softly.

“I guess it’s better for her to not have to look at them anymore. You hungry?” she asked.

“Yeah, but there isn’t much to eat,” Sam answered. They looked around themselves at the bare apartment. They had already emptied it in preparation of moving out. All that remained were their backpacks, which had been meticulously supplied and packed. As for food, there were only a few pieces of dark bread and the last of the pickles in the fridge door.

“Ooh, a feast,” Genie said sarcastically as Sam placed them on the counter. They had been working hard to get ready for their departure, and clearing out the fridge was all part of the plan. And although they had cash in hand, they knew their trip would be neither cheap, nor predictable in terms of costs, and therefore they had been resolute in saving every dollar they could.

They ate slowly and relatively silently. When the ‘feast’ had been consumed, Genie eased over to Sam and rubbed his shoulders. He had nice shoulders, to her eyes. Sam turned and faced her, taking her into his arms and running his hands down her back gently, landing his hands firmly on her bottom.

“Mmm…” he said, caressing her. “I like it.”

“Nice,” she answered while poking his pecks with to firm fingers, effectively backing him up. “Just not now; we have to go take care of business.”

“You started it.”

“We can take care of that business when we get back.”

“Tease,” he said with a wry smile, which she returned.

“First, I want to hear how you plan to carry two rigs on the bike with both of us on it.”

“Well…you drive, and I’ll hold one rig in each arm off to the side? I guess,” Sam answered.

“I don’t know,” she said, baiting his male ego. “Those rigs are pretty heavy.”

It was halfway across town, and Sam knew it would not be easy.

“It won’t be comfortable, but I’ll manage,” he replied.

“Well, okay,” she gave in skeptically, in order, she thought, to make sure he’ll want to do it all the more. The parachutes were heavy, and it would be no small task to carry one in each arm halfway across New Orleans. So, baiting him would give him more incentive to accomplish the task. It was one of the ways she could manipulate Sam, whom she knew to have considerable strength from seeing some of the antics he had often done. Actually, some of these stunts annoyed her because they were dangerous, and he did them mainly to amuse her (and himself). Naturally, she worried about him, but he was still alive through it all, and that said a lot. Besides, she liked to see him use his muscles, for she, being an actress, had learned to appreciate a good body. It was a tool of their trade, after all.

“Sam, are there going to be any people near to where we will be in Alaska?” Genie asked hopefully, even though she had asked the question before and disliked the answer.

“No, I told you. We’re going to be miles from people—any people. Why? What’s the matter?” Sam could feel that she had reservations about going through with this adventure as planned.

“It’s just that I’m going to miss our friends, and if there won’t be anybody around up there, we won’t be able to make any new ones,” she answered a little sadly. She had always had lots of friends, and the thought of having none was dismal. “Our friends all think we’re crazy.”

“Don’t worry about it. Most of those ‘friends’ are really just acquaintances. Real friends care about you and do things for you just like you care about them and do things for them. Real friends are people that, while you are with them, you can learn to know yourself. But no, our friends are not real friends. They come over to party, but they have made excuses every time we try to get close to them and open up, to really get to know them. What you’re going to miss is some of the things we did with them to keep from being bored. We’ll have other things to do,” Sam assured her. Sam was touchy on this subject. He felt cheated by his relationship with people. What he wanted was, perhaps idealistic or even fantasy, where friends were groups of people with strong bonds of loyalty and sincerity with one another. Something he felt he had lost with Skip.

“Okay, I get that they aren’t real friends, but there is always hope of making some,” Genie said, “but if we don’t settle down somewhere, we probably won’t.”

Sam could see the truth in this, but he had come to feel too restless in New Orleans, in society, in this grubby little apartment. “Am I your friend?” Sam asked at last.

Genie’s face softened as she put her arms around his neck. “You’re my best friend, and a real one too.”

“So long as we have each other…” Sam added. “But you know, this trip should be good for us. In the wilderness up there, I’ll bet we can discover things about ourselves and each other that we never dreamed were possible.”

“Yes, but some other friends would be nice too,” she said impishly.

“Agreed,” sighed Sam. “Well, I guess we should go get the parachutes.”

Genie groaned. “If we must, we may as well.”

And so, as stealthily as they had returned to their apartment, the two left, without a sound or trace (at least none that Mrs. O’Leary could catch).

The ride to Skip’s house seemed long. Sam dreaded the ride home with a forty-pound rig in each hand, but that was the only way, so he would do it. He was enjoying the breeze on his face as Genie concentrated on driving the large motorcycle through the New Orleans traffic. She, however, was frowning, being forced to breathe the choking exhaust fumes on the highway. That, she decided, was something she would not miss at all for the next year. She gunned the throttle and went flying through the speeding traffic.

Sam’s eyes instinctively opened wide, observing the road and the idiots upon it. “She’s just rowdy and anxious,” he thought to himself, chuckling. He looked forward to bow hunting in the wild with his strong-backed, strong-willed lover. She was, in fact, a worthy hunting partner. He always jokingly cursed her for being better with the bow than was he, and Genie would always give a sarcastic laugh and tell him it was luck, mostly to irritate him, because he knew it was skill.

When she was born, she was supposed to have been a boy. Traditions in her family dictated; there had always been a boy born first, going back generations. There was no mistaking her for a boy--at least not after she had grown. Her father had needed a son, however, and Genie was raised doing a lot of ‘boy’ things. Hunting was one of them. Her dad was an avid bow-hunter, and therefore, so had she become. Camping and hiking, basically anything outdoorsy was right up her ally. It was the family camping trip that she was not able to go on that had ended those adventures. She stayed behind because she was in a play whose closing weekend coincided with that trip. After the closing matinee, she got the news that her family’s plane had gone down in Wyoming. At age 15, she was alone. After the insurance settlement, and all of the debts had been paid, there was just enough money for Genie to go to college, where she had met Sam.

Sam had gone to college, but on his own nickel. He had to work several jobs in order to make it happen, but he didn’t seem to mind, although it was hard to do theatre and have multiple jobs—bosses don’t ‘get’ theatre people and their crazy rehearsal schedules. Sam and Genie had been in a couple of shows together before they came together. And with their schedules, they weren’t together much, but there was an attraction there that had been undeniable. Sam hadn’t been into relationships particularly, partly because of his schedule, and partly because he was just so into so many areas of curiosity. His mom had said that he got it from his father, who had been a detective in New Orleans. He unfortunately died in the line of duty in the Quarter when Sam was only four. He and his mom got a decent pension, and so were okay, but breast cancer took her from him when he was sixteen. The winds of change at the municipal level left Sam without his dad’s pension. Years later, Sam began to think that someone in the machine simply re-routed the funds to themselves—but that was an ongoing theory.

The fact that they were both orphans at college was one of the things they shared, and so brought them together. It also lead to certain self-destructive tendencies, one of which was sky-diving. Another was motorcycling.

Genie leaned the bike hard and turned off the main road to zip across a few back streets to Skip’s house. She pulled into the drive and parked. Hopping off, they shook their helmet hair loose. They walked up to the door, which opened before they could knock. Terri had been expecting them. She seemed shorter than she really was for some reason. She was a sturdy young woman with black hair and dark eyes, which looked as though she had been crying.

“Hello, Sam,” she said. “Come on in.”

“Thanks, Terri,” Sam replied politely, giving her a brief hug.

“How have you been, Genie?” she asked, looking into Genie’s jade green eyes.

“Fine. Good to see you. You holding up?” Genie replied returning the stare.

“As you see,” she said plainly. “You want some coffee?”

“Sure, we’d love some,” Sam answered quickly.

“I’ll just go pour it. Sam, the rigs are in the front closet.”

Genie followed her into the kitchen.

“Oh, right,” Sam said, awkwardly picking up his cue. Terri’s tone was somewhat distant, and Sam sensed that she really didn’t want company. He moved to the hall closet as the girls disappeared into the back.

In the kitchen, Genie caught sight of a carrot cake, or half of one anyway. She conspicuously glanced at it several times, hoping Terri would take the hint. She did.

“Would you like a piece of cake?” she asked politely.

“Oh, please; it looks delicious,” Genie replied graciously, thankful for the chance to eat anything after their meager lunch. This was another of the starving artist tricks, which she was neither too proud to use, nor to full.

When the two girls came back to the den with coffee and, to Sam’s delight, the carrot cake, Sam was looking over the rigs. They looked good to him. He set them aside and went to the table for the cake and coffee.

“The rigs bring back a lot of memories, you know. Skip really took good care of them,” he said. But having said it, the three quieted. Very little was said until the cake had been consumed and coffee sipped.

“So, you really want those, huh?” Terri asked.

“Well, yeah. We wouldn’t be able to do this trip without them,” Sam replied.

“Where are you going again?” Terri asked although the three of them had talked about it before.

“Alaska. Near Anchorage,” replied Genie. “We’re going to dive into a secluded valley where we are borrowing a hunting cabin. Get a little peace and quiet, live off the land.”

“Get out of the rat race?” Terri posed. “Should be great. I hope you have fun.”

“Don’t worry,” Sam said. “It took a fair dinkum to set this up, and we are going to enjoy it to the hilt, no matter what.”

“Yeah, and without the chutes,” Genie added, “we’d have to backpack in like sixty miles over the mountains. Of course, we’ll have to pack it all out in the end.” She gave Sam a look.

“Are you serious? Backpack that far?” Terri asked amazedly.

“Hey, we really need this trip,” Sam assured her, “and nothing is going to stop us from getting there. Hey, how long ago did Skip pack these chutes?” Sam did not like to jump rigs that had been packed too long without inspection. They could have deteriorated, and he hated the thought of pulling his ripcord only to see the canopy shred above him and only ‘Ground Rush Express’ below.

“His old one, about a month and a half,” she said looking at it. “And mine…they packed for me at the drop zone…after…” Her voice trailed off sadly. Sam looked at Genie, and they knew that had been the day Skip had died, three weeks ago. They had all jumped together.

“Oh, yeah,” Sam said quietly.

“Well, Sammy,” Genie intervened, “we’ve got a few things to do before we leave tomorrow.”

“Tomorrow?” Terri blurted out. “You’re leaving tomorrow?”

“Yes,” said Sam, rising from his seated position and bending over the parachutes.

“Then I guess you got these just in time,” she said, “I wish I was going with you.”

There was an awkward silence as Sam and Genie considered that they were perhaps guilty of the same lack of consideration they had shown to their friend in her time of need. They had been in touch numerous times since Skip’s death, but Terri put them off repeatedly, allowing grief to consume her.

“We’ll get together when you get back,” she said at last.

Sam gave her the money for the rigs, and she went into the closet and gave them the two jumpsuits that matched the chutes. They were the older style of baggy sleeved ‘Brand X’ jumpsuits that Skip used to lend them when they jumped together. They thanked her, collected everything, and departed.

“I feel so sorry for her, but I guess she just needs some time,” Genie remarked by the bike.

“Agreed,” Sam acknowledged. It was difficult for Sam to turn aside the debilitating feelings that he shared with Terri, so he focused on the tasks at hand. He was realizing how much of a load he had to carry. It was more than he expected. He thought about the ‘load’ Terri was carrying too. Certainly more than she had expected, and Sam shared that burden as well. He had gone through phases of grief in his own way: first shocked, then angry, denial, acceptance, and now the depression, which was fueling his need to escape.

So, they crowded onto the bike with the jumpsuits between them, forcing Genie forward, partially on the gas tank. Sam held the two rigs as he said he would, and they were off. They were a little wobbly at the start, as the balance was now weird, but they stabilized with a little more acceleration.

“Funny,” Sam said, “these things don’t seem that heavy now.” But he didn’t say so later. A little over halfway, he felt the muscles in his forearms tensing and getting numb in isometric contraction. He felt though, that with a little will power, he’d make it okay.

And so, he did, but breathing a very heavy sigh of relief at the sight of the apartment nonetheless. As usual, as of lately, they glided into the conveniently located gap made by the big cars out front.

Sam practically dropped the two parachutes as he crossed the threshold of the apartment, his arms looked large and powerful, pumped full of blood and gleaming with beads of sweat. This did not escape Genie’s notice. She thought he looked especially sexy when his lean, shapely muscles were given more definition from a good workout. She moved to him, feeling his body.

He never really understood why she liked to caress his sweaty body; he hated to be sweaty. But, then again, he thought she was especially sexy when she was in such a mood, so it worked out. However, during the heat of the summer, he would occasionally like to make love with the air conditioner on sometimes, but Genie seemed to control that part of their relationship. At such times, Sam did not mind being ‘controlled’—at least not by her.

“I thought we had things to do before our trip tomorrow,” Sam said, teasing. He brushed her strawberry blond hair back with his fingers.

“We do,” she replied, “and this is one of them.” She led him back to the bedroom and they reclined onto the sleeping bags on the floor.

Some time later, there was a knock on the door. It was Dave. He had been dropped off and was now there to buy the motorcycle as per the plan. Dave had been a friend of Skip’s, and Sam knew him well. He was something of a flake, and Sam had been worried that he would not show up for the bike before they must leave the next day. But there he was.

Sam grabbed the keys and helmets and went out to his faithful old motorcycle with Dave. Dave looked it over and seemed happy. Sam locked the extra helmet on its carrier and handed Dave the other one. He would be sad to see the bike go. They had had many good times together. But it had to go, and Sam needed the money to pay for a bush pilot, among other things.

Dave handed Sam an envelope full of money, and Sam handed over the keys.

“How much gas is in it?” Dave asked.

“You should be able to make it home before you need to switch to the reserve tank.”

“Cool.”

“Thanks, Dave. Take care of her,” Sam said.

“Hey, what are friends for?” Dave said with a sly grin. And with that, he started the bike, gunned the throttle a couple of times, backed it up, and drove away. Sam watched him go and turned to see Genie watching from the door. She looked a little sad too.

So, Sam returned into the apartment silently. He gave a heavy sigh and tossed the money envelope onto the kitchen counter. In the front room, he stood over the parachutes, thinking. Reaching down, he pulled the ripcord on the first rig and began pulling out the entire contents, filling the room. He dragged the pack into the hall to stretch out the shrouds so that he could begin re-packing the parachute.

When he had finished the first, he moved on to the second and did the same. He knew he and Genie would, in the past, have trusted that Skip had packed them meticulously, but Skip had just been killed jumping his new rig that he himself had packed. So, the trust factor there had been diminished.

After he finished the second pack, he turned to Genie. “Could you put on your backpack?”

“Okay,” she answered with a little question in her voice. She began to put it on when Sam stopped her.

“No, it will have to go on the front. The parachute will be on your back, remember.”

“Oh, right,” Genie remembered and put it on her front. Sam cinched her in.

“Okay, now let’s get the rig on,” Sam said, lifting up to her so she could slide her arms in. He buckled her in and attached the leg harnesses. He reached under the backpack to secure the chest strap.

“Hey, watch those hands, Buddy,” Genie said as he squeezed his hands between the pack and her chest.

“Oh, I’m watching them all right,” he quipped back. He got her all squared away and stepped back to look. “How does that feel?”

“Like a hundred pounds. Remind me to pee before we put all this on next time. And this is really squishing my boobs.”

Sam thought about it for a moment. “What if you wore your fencing cups?”

“I could do that, I suppose,” Genie said, “But they are at my cousin’s house with all of our fencing gear. Oh, she can maybe bring them with her when she picks us up in the morning to take us to the airport.”

“Great. That’ll be perfect.”

He had remembered those breast cups because he had bought them for her as a joke from an old theatrical costume shop that was going out of business. They looked like Wagner himself had designed them for his opera. But Genie fit in them well, and she had used them in fencing classes back in drama school where they had met. She hated getting poked in the teats by her male opponents, who had always been obsessed with their fullness as a target. Actually, that may have been one of the reasons that Genie had become quite a fencer; she hated for the guys to beat her. It had been a large class of some fairly capable people, and only Sam could best her—and even then, it was close. Sam always marveled at her skill, strength and quickness, and sometimes he would call her “Amazon” as an endearment, but it did fit her well.

Genie was just about to get out of the gear when there was a knock at the door. They looked at each other, knowing who it was. Mrs. O’Leary.

Sam opened the door, and there she was. She simply stood there and scowled at Sam for several seconds before noticing the girl standing there with God knows what all over her body. She didn’t have any idea what those two packs were for, but she suspected it must have been drug-related if both of these unemployed actor-types were involved.

“Hello, Mrs. O’Leary. How are you?” Sam said in a saccharine tone.

“I’m fine,” she snapped, “but you’re not. You are evicted as of tomorrow at noon, when all your belongings need to be out.” Her face became slightly puzzled as she noticed the inside of the apartment had already been cleared out of everything but the packs. “But I see you’re already planning a move.”

“Yes, sort of a last minute thing,” Sam answered. Genie just stood there and gave a little smile.

“Good. Maybe the next occupant will be quiet and keep up with the rent. You get none of your deposit back. Be out by tomorrow. Leave the keys on the kitchen counter. Good-bye.” And with that, she turned and walked quickly out, the eviction leaving a bad taste in her mouth. She didn’t like confronting tenants face to face to boot them out. So, she retired to her bottle of sherry, never understanding why people had to force her to do things that she was loathe to do.

Sam had not closed the door yet, but stood there dazed and puzzling over his ex-landlady’s brevity. Slowly he closed the door and turned back to Genie. “Oh,” he said simply.

Genie laughed. “Ha, ha. Either she has good timing, or we do! Was it just me, or did she look a little irritated when she saw that her formal eviction wasn’t really inconveniencing us because we are leaving anyway?”

“Well, she always had good timing,” Sam reflected with vexation. She had taken to banging on the wall at crucial points in their love-making.

“Yeah, love-making won’t be quite the same without her denting her wall. Now, will you please help me out of this gear?”

That night, Sam slept uneasily, tossing and turning, causing Genie to sleep uneasily. She had frequently informed him that he mauled her in his sleep whenever he was anxious about something. This night was unbearable. Consequently, they both found themselves awake together in the early morning. Genie got up to get a cup of water. She was naked, and Sam watched her glide across the room in the dim light.

When she returned, Sam was looking out of the window. She slinked behind him and caressed his chest from behind. He sipped some of her water, noticing how smooth her skin looked in the morning light. He ran his hand down to her thigh, feeling its muscular curves.

“Today’s the day, Amazon.”

“Yeah,” she quietly agreed, “we can leave this behind for a whole year. I have this feeling like we won’t ever come back.”

“Not to this dump, anyway.”

“Oh, well. You can’t leave forever.”

“No, I suppose not,” Sam mused. “But I wish we could. I feel like the whole world is an out-of-order Coke machine and keeps taking our quarters. I used to see things so differently.”

“Well, we’re older now.”

“Yeah, sure. Twenty-five. But I do feel older when I have to go out and face the world every day. That’s what’s making me old. It’s sapping our youth, trying to break our spirits. You feel it too, don’t you?”

“Sure, I know what you mean, but isn’t it natural to feel like that?”

“Natural? The only thing natural about life in this rat race is how awful it is. How awful people can be. Like our buddy, Dave.”

“What did Dave do?”

“Well, our friend, Dave, who drove off on our motorcycle. He shorted us three hundred bucks. I should have counted that money when he gave it to me. I can’t wait to get back to nature for a while and see what’s real.”

“You know it won’t be easy out there in the weeds, right?” Genie looked into his eyes.

“There has to be more to all this than these concrete cities. There just has to be more.”

“It’ll be better, Sam. This I know.”

The wait for the next four hours seemed incredibly long, and Genie’s cousin was late besides. Sam and Genie had talked about some of the things they had read about living off of the land trying to learn more. Some things seemed like they would be fun, others not so much. Nora finally arrived with the breast cups on over her shirt.

“You’re late,” Genie informed her.

“And you’re kinky,” Nora replied, pulling off the cups and handing them to her.

“Hey, Nora,” Sam greeted her. “Is the trunk open? We need to get loaded up.”

“Yeah, I’ll give you a hand.”

The packs all fit into the trunk neatly, and they drove away, leaving the grubby little apartment right where they wanted it—in the past.

Nora dropped them at Louis Armstrong and barely stopped the car to let them out since she was already late for work. No long good-byes today.

Sam and Genie got their boarding passes and checked the packs. When they finally made it through Security, the plane was boarding. As they took their assigned seats, Genie heard Sam’s stomach growl.

“Yeah, me too,” was all she said.

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