krakatoa by jmforceton

25 Apr


Saturday, July 26, 2008     Rome

Nineteen years old, Abigail Farrington was standing in line for baggage check-in at Rome’s Leonardo da Vinci Airport. A thirtyish mom with six crying kids, all under ten years-old, stumbled by yelling in Italian into a cell phone, simultaneously Abby thought she heard the businessman in front of her say in French, “Kracatowa, mon dieu!” He was on his cell, certainly getting excited, somehow it didn’t sound good.

She had just ended a text to her mom, saying, “See you tomorrow”, so she switched to Twitter and typed in, ‘Kracatowa’, nothing, then she thought again and tried, ‘Krakatoa’. Tweets were appearing ninety per minute.

jadamsthwaite@ssx.net RT b nn: RT@ thee: “… when Krakatoa erupted in 1883 there were no flights for 20 years.” #ashtag 3 seconds ago from Tweetie

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froelich@atd.com its chaos on the m65. It’s like krakatoa 2 seconds ago from TweetCaster

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mpeonies  RT @eet :OutPut_Bancho 不覚!せっかくライセンス借りたのにKrakatoa使ってねえ!!!about 2 seconds ago from TweetDeck

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juleshg@kfeeb Nos esperan atardeceres de colores extraños, como en el siglo XIX con el Krakatoa… 2 seconds ago from TweetDeck

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parenthesized@nrdds  la erupcion del volcan Krakatoa tuvo cenizas suspendidas por todo el mundo durante 3 años en 1883.No habia aviones.La vida continuo. 1 second ago from Echofon

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phoenix Office Dan: banging out about Krakatoa and nuclear   winters does NOT help me with my flight predicament…#ashcloud 1 second ago from web

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Oh, no, she thought, and as she looked over at the board with outgoing flights, it blinked and came up.

AF332            1:40 PM Paris (CDG)                 3:05 PM Boston               Air France    CANCELLED

She saw empty seats across the hall and briskly walked over and sat down. She was lucky and had an Internet connection three feet away; she pulled her laptop and cable out of her backpack.

After a couple of minutes on the Air France website, she knew there was no way she would make her flight to Logan, out of DeGaule, or anywhere else. She looked around and people everywhere were on cell phones or on laptops. The six screaming kids and disintegrating, screaming mom were about fifty feet away; Abby involuntarily shuddered. Now what?

A guy about her age sat down next to her, as he was texting he said something in Italian, saw her screen, then switched to English, ”Doesn’t look like we’ll be flying west, anywhere, today.”

She looked at him, smiled and said, ”No, I don’t think so. They must be having a good time in Iceland.” She was on the CNN website reading details of the story. Just her luck, the first eruption happened last night around midnight, in fact, there was an even bigger one this morning. The story had pushed all the Presidential campaign and the financial meltdown news to page two. She quickly watched three YouTube videos of the eruption in Iceland.

She logged on to Facebook and put a note on her wall about her situation, then a tweet on Twitter, and then a text home to her Mom; Dad still wasn’t into texting. Each message was crafted for the intended audience.

Text – “Mom, flights canceled because of volcano, everything fine. I’ll get back to you when I have things sorted out.”

Facebook, 335 fiends –  “Help guys, stranded in Rome. Anybody know where I can stay for a few days cheap? ”

Twitter, 103 followers – “stranded in rome airport volcano cute Italian guy sitting next to me now need cheap place to stay”

She would have liked water or something, on the other hand she didn’t want to give up the precious Internet connection; no hot spots in this terminal, unfortunately.

Less than a minute later her cell chirped. It was a text from Lisa, her brother’s ex-BFF and equally important someone Abby liked very much. “Just saw your tweet. Jump on a plane for Cairo for $100 and stay with me until we arrange to get you home. Don’t trust the Italian guy next to you.”

She texted back, “Thanks Lisa, perfect, see you in a few hours.”

She was on the Air Italia site to book the ticket; $97 econo seat, departure in 46 minutes, she’d be there for dinner. She was excited about the diversion; she hadn’t been in Egypt since she was 10 years old and she visited her grandparents with her mother.

Text to her mom, “Mom, going to stay with Lisa in Cairo until I arrange a flight home. I’ll let you know when I get there.”

Garden City, Cairo, Egypt  July 26, 2008

Lisa is next to a palm in the doorway of her small villa wearing shorts and a tank top, and Abby is just getting out of the tiny rusted cab with her carry-on and backpack. Her luggage apparently didn’t make it to the plane in time.

Inside, Abby drops her bags off in the share bedroom, Lisa’s small office space. “Lisa, it’s so good to be in Egypt again.”

“I was hoping you would think so. How tired are you?”

“Me tired, I don’t think so. What are you thinking?”

“Well it’s hours before dinner time. Let’s have a snack then how about a ride on the Nile? There are feluccas over at the Four Seasons Hotel about a miles from here.”

“Great plan, let’s do it.”

At the Four Seasons, several feluccas are tied up at the dock. It’s cool for July, about eighty-five degrees, still hot enough that most people ride at night when it’s cooler, and the city lights are spectacular.  Lisa approaches the first boat owner. “We’d like to go out for an hour what’s your fare?”

“Yes, Madame. For two beautiful ladies such as you, fare is seventy-five pounds.”

“Oh, I don’t think so, much too high. We’ll try the next boat.”

“Madame, Madame, please so sorry. Sixty-five I meant. Please, come on board.”

“Fifty pounds and I want an extra fifteen minutes.”

“Please, Madame is very persuasive. Come on board, fifty it shall be.”

“Wow, Lisa that was interesting. How much is that now?”

“Everything here is like that. It’s just a game. Fifty is about $10 he was trying to get $15, everybody local knows fifty is the price.”

Lisa’s cell phone buzzes and she excuses herself, walks away, and talks briefly. Rejoining Abby she says, “Just the office. We’ll have to stop there for a minute on the way back. It’s only a half-mile from my villa. It will give you a chance to walk the embassy grounds. It’s like a park”

On the boat, the large turquoise sail is raised; in a good breeze the felucca heels a bit and is quickly moving at a good pace, slicing through the dirty water.

They had been talking for twenty minutes, wind blowing their hair, when Abby says, ”Lisa, there’s a question I’ve wanted to ask you; you don’t have to answer.”

“Abby you know you can ask me just about anything.”

“Alright, so what happened with you and my brother, you were always so happy?”

The boat tacks and they duck under the boom, moving to the other side of the boat. The wind is picking up and some spray is starting to come over the bow, just enough to cool them a bit. “Abby, we were good together; your brother is such a great guy, but he was ready to settle down. Once he finished his degree, and started working in your Dad’s investment company, he wanted to have a home and kids; for a long time, I don’t think he knew how much. I saw it when we went out with married friends or when he saw young kids in the park. It’s just who he is now. I wasn’t in the same place. I love it in the diplomatic service, and I definitely wasn’t planning on a home in the burbs, or on kids any time soon. Then he ran into Amy again last year and everything unraveled. Now, it’s obvious to me that it was the best for all of us. Actually, I may be seeing him, and my brother-in-law in a few weeks.” The front of the felucca rises then dips, a big splash, and water comes over the bow as they sail through the wake of a red and white, hundred-foot, yacht, “I wonder if Amy knows that Pat and Jimmy are talking about a trip to Luxor. My grandfather is financing it and thinking about meeting them there; it’s something to do with the novel he’s writing.”

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5 Responses to “krakatoa by jmforceton”

  1. ingridfnl April 26, 2010 at 8:54 pm #

    The tweets are fun and great! 🙂

    I like the whole scene where they are haggling as well.

    Nice one.

  2. juleshg April 26, 2010 at 9:27 pm #

    I thought the tweets were a riot!

    ‘ A thirtyish mom with six crying kids, all under ten years-old, stumbled by yelling in Italian into a cell phone’ sounds like my version of hell! With my luck they would plunk down next to me.

  3. juleshg April 26, 2010 at 9:28 pm #

    BTW… what did my tweet say (in English) I understood we hope and 19th century

    • jmforceton April 26, 2010 at 9:52 pm #

      It’s Spanish, I think it would be something like. “Hoping for beautiful sunsets like in the 19th century with Krakatoa”

      • jmforceton April 26, 2010 at 10:00 pm #

        Those were actual tweets for Krakatoa the day I was writing this. I deleted all the links but my daughter informed me the address lines were wrong. Should have been @juleshg not juleshg@.

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