(Fact or fiction? Sigh. It’s all true. The names have been changed to protect the not-so-innocent.)
Outside the car window, the Oklahoma countryside sped by in the warm September night. My brand new husband and I laughed, giddy from the champagne we had consumed an hour before at our wedding reception. I had pulled on my beige twill polyester pantsuit (it was 1977) and pinned the corsage (from my bridal bouquet) onto the wide lapel of the jacket. I had completed my ‘going away’ ensemble by knotting a brown, orange and cream scarf around my neck. An old Steely Dan song, “Reelin’ In the Years” played on the car’s radio, and we all sang as the miles raced by.
I eagerly anticipated our week-long honeymoon in Acapulco and could hardly believe Chad’s parents had agreed to pay for airfare from Oklahoma City to Dallas, so that we didn’t have to make the two-hour drive after our evening reception. Friends who had been in the wedding and lived in Oklahoma City were chauferring us there.
Our flight to Acapulco left at 6 a.m. from Big D, and this shorter flight to get to Dallas wasn’t even an hour long. It would save us three-plus hours of driving time, and give us some time – although short – in the hotel room my husband had reserved for our wedding night.
I watched the clock on the car’s dash and felt a stab of anxiety. We were cutting it close. The flight left at 11 p.m., and when we arrived in OKC we still had to stop by Chad’s rented house to pick up his luggage. I had faith that we could still make it on time as we pulled into the driveway.
“I’ll wait here,” I called as he got out of the GTO. He frowned.
“It’ll just take a little bit. I’ll throw some things together –”
Something worse than surprise stabbed my stomach. “You mean, um, you haven’t packed yet?”
“No. Come on inside, everybody.”
I glanced at the dashboard clock just as Mike turned off the ignition. Our plane was scheduled to take off in one hour. We could still make it, couldn’t we?
I paced the small living room of the house that would soon be my home. Boxes of opened wedding gifts had been stacked around the room and in the kitchen. I squeezed between two of them to perch on the edge of the brown sofa and watch the minutes tick by on the wall clock.
Then, we were in the car again, zooming toward the airport. Although I was not a fingernail chewer, I nibbled at the ends of my manicured nails. I was afraid to look at the clock. Traffic was light at that late hour, and we raced through intersections on green lights.
Allen pulled up to the drop-off at the airport. The men pulled the bags from the trunk, and Chad and I dashed inside and ran up to the empty airline counter to check in with the lone woman who stood there.
“Flight to Dallas. We’re here,” Chad announced. I grabbed a quick breath.
The desk clerk looked at us, and then at the clock on the wall behind her.
(Come back for part 2 on Monday!)