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Taking A Chance
A story about facing fears while traveling in the post September 11 world.
I live on Cape Cod, MA and this is my first attempt at a short story.
Taking A Chance
Dreams. We all have them. Do you believe they can come true? I know I do. A few months after I started my job I was invited to go on a cruise to Bermuda by three co-workers; I jumped at the chance. For months it was all I though about and it monopolized our lunch time conversation. As summer turned into fall my traveling buddies and I chatted with anticapation and excitement about our radiply approaching vacation. Several guidebooks were perused and a plan finally emerged. Then my bubble burst.
September 11, the day America changed forever. As I stood rooted in front of the TV, my stomach sank and I wondered how this would affect the world we live in. I thought of my trip to Bermuda and whether I would go and if I really wanted to. Confused and dazed I didn't know what to do. Would it be worth taking a chance? The lunch time conversation changed from exhilaration, about the trip, to fear and anger. The group reached a consensus, the trip was a go. I felt a knot in my stomach the size of Bermuda itself.
The morning of my trip dawned with a cold, raw, gale force wind coming in from the east. Trying to quiet the butterflies in my stomach, I drove to my friends house where the small group anxiously awaited the arrival of the stretch limousine. The bags were loaded in the trunk and a few down the middle aisle as the limo set off for Boston. At first the atmosphere was thick with silence, but gradually the air cleared and the conversation flowed like champagne. An hour and half later the limo pulled into the Mass Port parking lot. Seeing several ships docked in the harbor I wondered which one was the NCL Majesty, my new home for the next seven days. My heart thundered in my ears and I thought, no turning back now, what ever will happen, will happen.
Juggling my luggage I stood in the line waiting to board the ship; I noticed police everywhere. As I moved closer and finally reached the check-in point there were more cops standing off to the side eyeballing the crowd. I surrendered my bags to the porter who put them on the luggage cart and I watched as it rolled away to the nearby x-ray machine. I mused aloud if all this security was post September 11 and Liz, who was an extensive traveler, replied "Yes, I have never seen such tight security and they have never scanned my luggage either." The buterflies in my stomach eased a little bit.
Struggling with my two carryon bags I reached the customs area where I showed my driver's license and birth certificate to the agent. I then walked through the x-ray machine and on the other side I held out my arms while the agent scanned my body for metal. I passed through with flying colors. Cate, however, who had changed her hair color did not. They pulled her aside and after extensive interrogation allowed her to board the ship. These agents were not fooling around and I relaxed a bit more.
After visiting my stateroom, Liz and I headed top side. I waited in the buffet line for lunch and, trying to hold onto my plate in the brisk wind, I crossed the deck to a table where others of my party were already seated. I glanced down to the dark blue water, which had a choppy look, and to my shock I saw several Coast Guard Gunner boats, complete with machine guns, staggered around the perimeter of the ship. I felt safe, but I thought is this still America?
As the ship pulled away from the dock I noticed a few of the Coast Guard boats escorting us out of the harbor into the Atlantic Ocean. I inhaled then exhaled out all the fear and anxiety that had built up since September 11. Smiling I pinched myself, I was on my way to Bermuda, a dream come true.
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© 2002 Leigh Berry
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