December 26th, 1990

December 26th, 1990

Flight from LHR – BKK

Presently on crew rest as we wing our way to Bangkok, and if my first impressions of the crew are accurate, I foresee a boozy trip, laced with several helpings of drama!

 

December 25th, 1990

December 25th, 1990

At home, England

Festive Christmas Day with Florence and her gang, filled with presents and delicious food, including my all-time favourite; Christmas Pudding with Brandy sauce. Oh my!

“Karen love,” Florence uttered, long after the table was cleared. “You must fess up to William.”

“Why?”

“I have a funny feeling he’s going to show up on your doorstep!”

“Don’t be silly, he lives on an island, thousands of miles away from here.”

“I know love, but I just think with him being so keen and reconnecting with you he might make an appearance.”

“He won’t,” I stated.

“I wouldn’t be so sure.”

“Don’t worry, he won’t.”

She gave me a questioning look

“I ehm, I gave him a fake address and number.”

“Oh, Karen!”

“I know, I know but, ugh, it was all so weird, with Shelby squealing and me panicking about missing the flight and all that. I was completely caught off guard!”

Her look told me she didn’t agree with me.

“You think I should’ve told him the truth?”

She nodded. “I think you owe it to him to at least tell him the truth about the circumstances under which you met. The other stuff is up to you.”

I sighed deeply. “You’re right. I should tell him.”

She smiled. “Can you write to him?”

“Uh-huh.”

“Then I think you should spill the beans and make it clear you don’t want to see him again…unless of course you do.”

“I don’t know if I do or not. I’ve been thinking about the fun we had in Antigua but I don’t know if I’m flattered because he made such an effort to find me or because I really liked him.”

She nodded in agreement. “I think starting with the truth is the first step, then see where it goes from there. At least that way when he shows up on your doorstep professing his undying love, he’ll at least know your real name!”

I came home and penned a ten-page letter that I already put in the post.

 

December 24th, 1990

December 24th, 1990

At home, England

“Happy Christmas babe,” Ben whispered, nuzzling my neck, as we waited on the platform for the train to arrive.

“Thanks,” I breathed, wishing I could freeze the moment.

“And Happy New Year, hope you get everything you want.”

“You too.”

“I’m sorry I messed everything up with us.”

I pulled away and stared at him in shock, as he continued. “I really am. I wish it could’ve been different.”

“Me too,” I uttered, feeling close to tears.

“But just think, this time next year you’ll probably be married and living happily ever after with lover boy in la la land.”

I choked back the lump in my throat.

“Right?” He asked, expectantly.

“Oh yeah,” I lied. “It’s entirely possible.”

“Course it is, you’ve already met the family, how was that by the way? You never mentioned it.”

“Things you don’t need to know,” I said, burying my face in his shoulder, wishing the train would hurry up.

“Makes me sad to think I’ll never see you again when you move to America,” he said, wistfully.

I cleared my throat but before I could answer he said, “Ah, here comes the train.” He kissed me full on the lips. “Bye babe.”

“Bye, Ben. Happy Christmas.”

 

No sooner was I home when Pamsy rang.

“Happy Christmas darling.”

“And to you, what’re you doing?”

“Taking a break from helping my mum prepare tomorrow’s feast. I really wish you were here.”

“Sounds-” I started to say, before bursting into tears.

“Oh no, what’s the matter?”

“Everything,” I sniffed.

I told Pamsy about my night of unbridled passion with Ben but that I’d omitted to tell him I split up with David.

“This year hasn’t exactly turned out as planned for either of us, has it?”

“Not in the least,” I sighed.
We continued with our mega chat and I felt much better after we hung up, then remembered I hadn’t told her about meeting Howie and talking to William. I was about to ring her back when the phone rang, making me jump.

“Hello?”

“Hey McGarr, fancy a wild night with me and the boys at The Harrow? I’ll even come and pick you up. How’s that for service?”

“As tempting as that sounds, Jon,” I chuckled. “I have to decline.”

“My poor old heart,” he said, leading me to believe he’d already made some headway with the liquid variety of holiday cheer.

“Actually, I was supposed to go to a party in London but I got, ehm, distracted,” I said, failing to elaborate on the reason why.

“Oh,” he uttered, his tone hopeful. “You shouldn’t be alone on Christmas Eve, want me to come over?”

“Nah, that’s ok, my friend Sarah is having a party so I’ll probably just pop over there.”

“Fair enough. Are you enjoying your first Christmas in your new house?”
“To be honest I haven’t given it much thought.”

“Did you put up a tree?”

“Nope.”

“Why not?” he asked.

“I’m leaving on Boxing Day, there didn’t seem much point.” Added to which I’ve been put through the love ringer and can’t wait for this shitty year to be over!

“Bah humbug McGarr, bah humbug.”

“Nooooo,” I laughed. “Don’t call me that!”

“Just kidding, anyway Happy Christmas to you. Ring me when you get back?”

“Of course,” I lied.

On reflection, after a painfully boring evening at Sarah’s where everyone gathered in the kitchen moaning about how much they hate their jobs and gossiping about who got fat this year (me!) and who got engaged (not me!) I should’ve made an effort and gone to Annabel’s where I’d no doubt be tipsy on Champagne and giddy at the sight of the hunks she had lined up for me.

 

December 23rd, 1990

December 23rd, 1990

At home, England

The phone interrupted my floaty dream of the beach and blond floppy hair, but, thinking it might be mum and dad ringing from the airport to say bye, I sprang out of bed and dashed downstairs to answer it.

“Hello?”

“Hey you with the sexy voice.”

“Ben.”

“That’s the one,” he chuckled.

“As if I could forget.”

“I miss your morning voice,” he breathed.

“I miss yours too,” I blurted. Shit!

“That could be rectified you know.”

“I’m sure it could,” I said, my tone much flirtier than intended.

Stop it! Get a grip!

“I’m free today.”

“Good for you,” I chirped.

“Very funny. Should we keep beating around the bush or do you want to pick me up at the train station?”

“What time?” I asked, grip gone!

“I’m thinking as soon as possible but realistically it’ll be about three hours from now.”

Ample time for you to come to your senses, Miss McGarr!

“Ok, ring me back when you know what train you’re taking.”

“I will. And hey, Karen?”

“Yes?”

“I can’t wait to see you.”

“Ditto.”

 

December 22nd, 1990

December 22th, 1990

At home, England

Headed straight to mum and dad’s this morning to celebrate Christmas before they head to Spain first thing tomorrow.

We munched on mince pies whilst opening presents and mum was all ears, wanting to know what happened in New York. I wanted to tell her about my chat with William but I still haven’t found the right time to tell her David and I split up. I just can’t seem to get the words out, perhaps because I know she’ll be really disappointed.

Dad helped me load the presents into the car and like me, he hates saying goodbye, so when he wiped away a tear, I pretended not to see.

“Right hen, I’m away to take Tini for a wee walk, enjoy Christmas and your trip,” he said, pushing a wad of cash into my hand.

“Dad!”

“It’s fine,” he said. “Use it to enjoy yourself.”

“Thank you,” I said, kissing his cheek.

The second dad was gone, mum said, “You’re awful tight lipped.”

“I’ve been up all night, don’t forget.”

“So, you’re just tired?”

“Uh-huh,” I uttered, getting into the car.

“Did something happen in New York?” she asked.
“A lot happened in New York, it’s the city that never sleeps!”

“You know what I mean.”

“It’s all good, mum.”

“Are you sure?”

“I’m sure,” I said, straining my neck to receive her kiss on my cheek.

“As long as you’re alright,” she said.

“I’m fine,” I smiled. “Happy Christmas, enjoy Spain, take lots of pictures.”

“Same to you, hen,” she said. “See you next year!”

I probably should have just told her about William but it’s not as if I have any intention of keeping in touch, which is why I gave him a fake phone number and address.

 

December 21st, 1990

December 21st, 1990

Night flight from JFK – LHR

Somewhere over the Atlantic!

As well as being the shortest day, this has also been one of the most interesting!

Met up with Emilio, Ruby and Sara first thing but skipped breakfast so we could get a head start on shopping. The streets of New York are always jammed but today went beyond anything I’ve ever experienced, so, after a few hours we agreed to go our separate ways. I wanted to get Ben some skincare products, which I usually buy in Bloomingdales but I was closer to Macy’s so I made my way in that direction.

Not far from the main doors, I heard a male voice call out, “Madison,” and I smiled, thinking of the cover name I used in Antigua earlier this year with Millie and Dolly. The voice called again but in a city with Madison Avenue and Madison Square Gardens, the name probably isn’t that uncommon, is what I was thinking.

Just as I was about to walk into Macy’s, I heard it again, only this time it came from behind, accompanied by a hand on my shoulder. I spun around, my face quickly scanning that of the short guy in front of me, smiling widely as he motioned for us to step aside, to avoid being trampled by the throng of shoppers.

“Hey Madison, you remember me?” he asked in a thick New York accent.

“Of course,” I fibbed.

“I figured it had to be you, you know, with the hair and all.” The way he said hair sounded more like hay ur.

“How are you?” I asked, still clueless as to his identity.

“Doing good,” he nodded, enthusiastically. “I’m looking for something special for my wife, Shelby, you remember my Shelby?”

At the mention of the name, the penny dropped. Shelby, the girl we met on the Antigua trip, the one who gave Scotty a run for his money in the decibel department.

“Yes, how is she?” Still loud, I imagine!
“Doin awesome,” he nodded, pacing from one foot to the other. “You at lunch?” He asked, quickly tapping the face of his bejeweled watch.

Think fast, think fast. He thinks my name is Madison and I work for Vogue magazine, a few blocks from here!

“Ehm, yes, I am, actually. Late lunch. Obviously!” Think faster and use less words!

“Hey, do you got any time to swing up to the ah part ment to say hi to Shelby? We’re less than a block away. My poor honey’s on bed rest, we got a baby due next month.”

“Oh, congratulations, that’s lovely news,” I fake gushed. “I’m afraid I don’t have much time, I have to get back to the office. Busy season and all that.”

For some strange reason, my accent was starting to sound like I subscribe to, “Horse and Hound.”

“Aw, man, that’s too bad, it’s been a rough pregnancy, you know? Hey, you sure you don’t got a minute? I know she’d love to see ya. It’d mean a lot.”

I don’t know if it’s because it’s Christmas or the fact I’ve already given some thought to my New Year Resolutions, which include, “Being A Better Person,” (puke) but whatever I was feeling in that moment, prompted me to say, “I’m sure I can spare a few minutes to visit Shelby.”

“Awesome, awesome,” he gushed. “Follow me.”

On the way, I thought about “getting lost in the crowd,” but no sooner did it cross my mind when he stopped outside an imposing looking building, complete with doorman.

“How ya doin, Cal?” asked the man whose name I couldn’t remember.

“Hanging in there, Mr. Saperstein. Afternoon, miss,” the doorman nodded, holding the door open as I followed Mr. Saperstein inside, to the plush lobby.

In the lift, I fake smiled in response to Mr. Saperstein’s (what the hell was his name?) incessant rambling and allowed my mind to wander to the possibility that he might in fact be a mad axe murderer, luring me to my death. However, the fact he had a doorman who knew him seemed to alleviate those fears (right, because it’s been proven that murderers don’t live in a building with a doorman! What is wrong with me? Jet lag. It’s all related to jet lag. And cabin pressure. The lack of oxygen is clearly killing my brain cells!) Needless to say, with my head full of those random thoughts, I had no idea what Mr. Saperstein was prattling on about.

Mr. Saperstein used his key (a doorman and a key, perhaps my time wasn’t up after all!) to open the door to the apartment, and I had enough brain cells left (up yours, hypoxia!) to know to stand back while he walked into what appeared to be, a very nice apartment.

“Honey? Honey? Where you at, baby cakes?”

I stifled a laugh and watched as Mr. Saperstein went in the direction of what I presumed to be the bedroom, while I remained by the door, with it still ajar, just in case!

“Honey, you’re never gonna believe who’s here,” he shouted, just as Shelby came shuffling out of the bedroom, clutching a plate, piled with food, at which point, I stepped into the living room, allowing the door to close behind me.

“Whatcha doin outta bed, honey?”

“I got hung ga we,” Shelby whined, before turning and spotting me.

“Oh. My. Gawd,” she squealed, waddling towards me. “Madison! Madison!” She reached in for a hug, as her husband swiftly grabbed the plate from her wavering hand. Instead of congratulating Shelby on her pregnancy, or starting off with some sort of pleasantry, I spouted, “I don’t have much time. I just wanted to come and say hello.”

Shelby fired questions and statements and there was no way I could begin to even attempt to answer any of them.

“Howie, did you tell hur?”

Finally, his name!
“A little in the ela vayta.”

Shit! What did he tell me? I should have been paying attention instead of imagining my gruesome death.

“Madison,” she said, shaking her head. “You have no i dee a. William is nuts about you! He had Howie go to your building, you know, the Vogue offices, but they wouldn’t give out any infa machion. It’s the same all over the city now, security this, security that.”

That’s probably because they don’t have anyone by the name of Madison Frazer working there!

 

“So, Howie called William down in the eye land, and told him he couldn’t find you. William was sooooo disappointed, wasn’t he honey?” Howie nodded in agreement and gazed lovingly at Shelby as she continued. “So, he asked Howie to go back and try again, then he said fuggetaboutit, I’ll find her! That’s how crazy he is about you! This is so great, wow, you look awesome, like you just stepped out of a magazine, you know, my sister used to get Vogue when we were growing up on Long Island, now she’s a buy a for Bergdorf, so crazy how life turns out, she would love to talk to you, we gotta come up with a plan. I’ll be right back, don’t move, Howie honey, keep an eye on hur! Don’t move!”

I took a huge gulp of air, in lieu of the one Shelby failed to, and watched the back of her as she toddled into the kitchen.

I made small talk with Howie about the weather and the holiday crowds and when Shelby reappeared she was on the phone, the long cord stretching halfway into the living room, just like in the movies!

“I know sweetie, I know,” she cooed, into the receiver, beckoning for me to come closer, the cord stretched to its limit. I looked at Howie who motioned for me to move closer to the phone.

“Ok sweetie, talk to you soon, here she is. Buh bye.”

Shelby held out the phone.

“Who is it?” I mouthed, fearing I already knew the answer.

She dismissed me with her swollen fingers.

Tentatively, I took the receiver. “Hello?”

“I can’t believe it’s you. I’ve been looking for you since you left the island.”

I imagine the look on my face was one of shock because that’s exactly how I was feeling. I glanced at Shelby who was smiling gleefully, rubbing her meaty hands over her ample belly.

“Oh, hello William,” I said, managing to sound much calmer than I felt. “How are you?”

William started banging on about calling the Vogue office, and sending Howie there and not being able to find anything out. In response, I bumbled something about being busy at work and having to get back to the office.

“Don’t hang up! Give me your number. And your address. We need to stay in touch.”

Shit! Think fast!
“Actually, I just happen to be moving back to England over Christmas.” My enunciation would’ve made the Queen proud. “I’ll be happy to provide you with my new telephone number and address in England.”

You know, the place where I have “Horse & Hound,” delivered! What was going on with my accent?

“Sure, sure,” he gushed. “I can’t believe I’m talking to you!”

You can’t believe it? My head screamed.

Shelby was now in such close proximity that her giant baby belly was pressing into my coat.  She was swaying from side to side, dangerously close to overdosing on glee and knocking herself into labour. Under her dutiful watch, I gave William my contact info, wished him a Happy Christmas then promptly hung up, leaving Shelby free to express her delight, for which she chose to shriek; “Wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow!”

I knew I was running out of time (and patience,) and had to get out of there, so I made my excuses and left as quickly as I could. Waiting for the lift, I had so many thoughts whizzing through my head. I should have told William the truth. I should have told him my real name, and that I don’t actually live in New York, or work at Vogue magazine. But that seemed a lot to share during a surprise phone call!

I knew I’d already missed call time, and was cutting it fine for pick-up so in an attempt to move quickly through the crowds I fixed a stern expression on my face in the same way the New Yorkers do but failed to carry it off as I found myself automatically apologizing to anyone who bumped into me!

Most of my crew were already in the lobby and I felt a few heads follow me as I legged it past them. When the lift doors opened on the twenty-eighth floor, I ran to my room at the end of the corridor, then realized I’d gone in the wrong direction.

By the time I got to my room, I was out of breath but still managed to change into uniform in record time, as well as slapping some make-up on while I peed!

I chucked all the shopping bags into my suitcase, gathered up the rest of my belongings and made a mad dash to the lift, before it dawned on me I’d forgotten my suitcase.

I sprinted back to my room and dragged my suitcase to the lift, which seemed to take forever to show up. In the lift’s smoke glassed mirror, I brushed my hair and popped my earrings in, then, with my heart beating wildly, I quickly made my way outside, to find the Cabin Service Director pacing back and forth at the foot of the steps of the crew bus.

In response to his questioning look, I smiled widely and stepped boldly past him, onto the crew bus, where I plopped down in the seat next to Emilio.

“You’re wearing two odd earrings,” he whispered, as the door closed behind the CSD, now making his way in our direction. “And you’re in trouble.”

“You have no idea,” I responded, before I burst out laughing.

 

December 20th, 1990

December 20th, 1990

Fight from LHR – JFK

Lexington Hotel, New York

The atmosphere onboard was rather festive today and judging by the amount of booze we served, the passengers were well into the holiday spirit! With a flight time of just under seven hours, there wasn’t much time to linger but the passengers I talked appeared happy to be “heading home for the holidays.” Home, it seems for many people, isn’t necessarily where they live.

Working with a fun guy from Glasgow called Emilio, who knew every word to the Grease soundtrack the driver played as the crew bus crawled towards Manhattan. Along with the music, we enjoyed what crew affectionately call, “brown milk,” a delicious concoction that kept us well-oiled on what could’ve otherwise been a tedious journey.

I left a message on Christopher’s answering machine to wish him Happy Christmas and wanted to wish him luck proposing but I figured if Laurie heard the message, he might not be very happy with me!

 

Ventured out with a few of the crew but calling it a night (four am UK time!) because I have a mad desire to get up early and join the frenzied shoppers.

 

December 19th, 1990

December 19th, 1990

At home, England

In an attempt to save a few quid on my heating bill, I was curled up under two blankets on the couch, halfway through a bar of Galaxy and my latest book, when the phone rang.

“Argh,” I groaned, no desire to leave my cocoon, until the ringing didn’t stop. “Note to self,” I said, getting up. “Buy an answering machine.”

“I don’t believe it!” the voice boomed.

“Oh, hello Millie, how are you?” I said, sarcastically.

“What were you thinking?” she yelled.

“What on earth are you talking about?”

“You! And Richard!”

“What about us?”

“You shagged him!”

“Who told you that?”

“A friend of mine was on your little Philly love fest trip.”

“And?”

“And she told me you two couldn’t keep your hands off each other!”

“Well your so-called friend is wrong. I barely kissed him let along shag him but if I did, it’s nobody’s bloody business!”

“You knew I liked him!” She screamed.

“Oh Millie, puh leeze, don’t give me that. You were vile to him on the night stop we did together and-”

“Was not!”

“Yes, yes you were,” I shouted. “So, zip it!”

I expected her to either hang up or continue yelling but instead she started laughing.

“What’s so funny?”

“Us.”

“What do you mean?”

“We’re like sisters,” she said, still chuckling.

“Then I’m glad I don’t have a sister!”

“Aw,” she uttered. “That’s mean.”

“Sorry but it’s sort of true. Is this really how sisters act?”

“Pretty much.”

“Sounds terrible.”

“It’s not, anyway, not to change the subject but will you be seeing Richard again?”

“I don’t know.”

“He really likes you.”

“How do you know?”

“Fiona told me.”

“Fiona’s your friend? That bloody flight deck floozie! Honestly Millie, she’s the one that was all over him, not me!”

“Yeah, she’s a bit of an old slapper, our Fiona.”

“You can say that again.”

“Regardless, I hope something good happens for you, especially after the fiasco with Mr. LA, you deserve some happiness.”

“Only some?”

She laughed. “You know what I mean and do you know what else?”

“What?”

“I wish we were on the same trip on Boxing Day, I’m so disappointed we won’t be spending New Year’s Eve together. I was really looking forward to that.”

“Me too, it’s such a shame.”

“I was thinking we could request another trip, maybe the fourteen day Antigua again.”

“No way!” I shrieked.

“Why not?”

“We can’t go back there, not with our fake names and identities and all that.”

“I doubt anyone would even remember us. Besides those military boys move around a lot.”

“That’s true,” I said. “Then maybe we should request another Antigua to start off nineteen ninety-one in style.”

“Madison and Millie return to Antigua, ooohh I can’t wait,” she squealed. “Something to look forward to.”

Definitely!

 

December 18th, 1990

December 18th, 1990

At home, England

“So,” Richard said at the staff car park, after retrieving our suitcases off the bus. “Are you heading home?”

I nodded yes.

“And do you expect we’ll be seeing each other again?”

I gave him a questioning look.

“I don’t want to be presumptuous.”

“Ehm, eh,” I stuttered.

“Oh dear,” he said.

“Oh dear, what?”

“Your hesitancy just told me everything.”

“I’m sorry,” I said, quietly.

“It’s quite alright. I get the impression you’re still, shall we say, recovering, from the experience with your chap in LA?”

I sighed. “I think so, yes.”

“Our day together in London and evening in Philadelphia were, well, I’d go as far as to say, outstanding.”

I laughed. “I agree. And thank you.”

“Not to mention the lovely chats and cups of tea and biscuits we shared on both sectors.”

“Yes,” I nodded. “I enjoyed that too.”

“So, perhaps when your heart is somewhat healed you’ll ring me again?”

“Perhaps.”

“I do hope so,” he said with a shy smirk. “May I kiss you?”

“Here?”

He glanced around. “Not a good idea?”

“I don’t think so, you never know who’s watching. Besides, it’s against uniform regulations.”

“Kissing is?”

“Uh-huh.”

“Oh,” he uttered. “I never knew that.”

“Well it is for cabin crew but you lot can probably do whatever you want!”

He laughed. “I doubt that but well, in that case, I shan’t kiss you but I hope you leave knowing how much I want to.”

“I do,” I smiled, suddenly feeling self-conscious.

“I sincerely hope our paths cross again, Karen. I have no plans other than family obligations over Christmas and like you I leave on Boxing Day but prior-”

“Where are you going?” I asked, if only to establish we wouldn’t be on the same flight.

“Los Angeles,” he said quietly.

“Oh.”

“Sorry, I was hoping that wouldn’t come up.”

“It’s ok,” I said. “It’s over. Life goes on, right?”

“I hope so,” he said, pecking my cheek. “I truly hope so.”

 

December 17th, 1990

December 17th, 1990

Night flight from PHL – EWR – LHR

A few hours after our first kiss, Richard rang and asked if I was, “Interested in eating.”

“Definitely, I’m starving. I’ll meet you in the lobby in half an hour.”

“Excellent.”

On our way through the lobby, we bumped into the Captain, who gave me the up down several times. I noticed he did the same to every female in sight last night, which didn’t bode well with me. After licking his lips (whilst still staring at me) he asked Richard if he had had, “an eventful evening.” I watched Richard’s cheeks flush and hated the way the Captain looked at him, waiting for an answer.

I linked my arm through Richard’s and flashing my best fake smile, chirped, “I have to confess, last night was the most memorable night I’ve ever had.” I watched as creepy Captain inched closer and when I knew I had his full attention, I purred, “Seniority in the cockpit is clearly, very overrated.”

I knew if I dared look at Richard, we’d both lose it so I kept my eyes and my fake smile fixed on slimy Samuel, who, clearing his throat sputtered, “Yes, indeed, yes, but of course,” as he shuffled away.

Once outside, Richard and I cracked up laughing.

“Well done you!”

“Sorry, I just couldn’t help myself. I didn’t like what he was insinuating so I thought he deserved to hear something that’d shut him up.”

“I didn’t appreciate his tone either but I have to work with him.”

“Ugh, I feel sorry for you. What’s he like to fly with?”

“He’s living up to his reputation as the biggest dickhead on the fleet.”

In a dodgy looking place with amazing pizza, Richard said, “The only thing missing is a cold beer.”

“I thought the rule was no drinking within eight feet of the aircraft,” I said, trying miserably to maintain a serious tone, to which Richard laughed heartily, even although I’m sure he’s heard the joke a million times before (the rule is no drinking within eight hours of a flight.)

Only three and a half hours to go before we land at Heathrow, where, according to Richard on his most recent visit to the galley, the weather is absolutely dreadful.