volcanic eruptions and immovable mountains by phoenix.writing

25 Apr

“Hi, mom, I don’t think I’ll be able to get home for a few days. Can you send me some money?”

Abby got the words out in a rush.


The entire Atlantic Ocean separated them, and the reproach in that one word still made Abby shudder.

“I’m sorry,” she hurried on.  “I didn’t plan any of this, you know.”

The sternness was unchanged.  “You should have planned for emergencies.”

“But mom,” Abby protested, “it was a volcano in Iceland.  Even the airlines were taken completely by surprise.”

“That’s what emergency funds are for, Abigail: the unexpected.  You will simply have to make do.”

“But mom—”

“I trust this will teach you to be more prudent in the future.  Telephone once you know when you will be returning.”


The dial tone interrupted her, and Abby stared mutinously at the phone for a moment before she hung it up, muttering words under her breath that her mother would surely reproach her for if she realized Abby knew them—but since her mother had just hung up on her, this was not an issue.

Her mother had thought that Abby should have saved the money from her grandmother, not blown it on this trip.  But Abby had wanted to see the world, had known that there was nothing that her grandmother would have wanted more than for Abby to do what she wanted with the money, do something she couldn’t achieved otherwise, and so Abby had had no qualms.

Only now it looked as though she was going to get to see a little more of the world than she’d bargained for because her mother had decided that this was a prime time for an object lesson.

Abby had been all over Europe, and the whole point had been to spend all the money, to enjoy herself thoroughly, and then to go home when she had no money left.  Maxing out her credit card in Paris hadn’t been the wisest decision she’d ever made, possibly, but it had been Paris, and it was too late to change that decision now.

She had about five quid to her name because it had cost her £4.50 to get back from Heathrow when she had realized that she and about a million other people were going to be stuck there indefinitely; it had been so loud and so crowded and filled with so many frustrated people.  Abby had figured it was better to be stranded in the city proper rather than in what was rapidly becoming one of the world’s most crowded airports.

If her dad had been home, she would have been fine; he would have shaken his head at her—she could sense that even over a phone connection, too—but he would have bailed her out, and he wouldn’t have expected her to have planned for a damn volcano.  But it would be a couple days, at least, before her dad got back from his business trip, and Abby had literally to figure out how to live on five pounds until then.

The weather was mild, anyway, and there were plenty of places in London that were open 24/7, so that was good.  She only had a backpack full mostly of clothes, so even if she pawned it, it wouldn’t be worth much; even the Paris fashions weren’t high-end enough for that.  Selling her passport in the black market was probably the only way to get cash at this point.  Almost tempting just so she could tell her mom that that was what she’d driven Abby to, but more trouble than it was worth.

She contemplated calling her mother back, but she knew she was lucky the woman had accepted the collect call the first time.  Abby would figure something out; she wasn’t about to let her mother win like this.

“Sounds like your mom would get along great with mine.”

Abby’s head snapped up.  The woman had short blonde hair, looked to be a few years older than Abby, and had a baby on her hip.  She looked vaguely familiar, but Abby couldn’t quite place her.  The accent was definitely North American.

The woman smiled at her.

“Couldn’t help overhearing.”

It was a little coffee shop; Abby suspected that the entire room had heard.

“Listen,” the other woman said.  “My break’s almost up.  I have a bookshop and a sitter who’s stuck in the Caribbean thanks to that volcano.”  She hefted the baby on her hip in emphasis.  “Hard to mind them both at once.  Fancy a babysitting gig for a few days, and I’ll tell you all about how my mother still hasn’t got over the fact that I live on this side of the pond?”

Abby smiled at the other woman, feeling a weight that she’d been trying really hard not to acknowledge lifting off her chest.  Maybe it was the baby, or maybe it was the shared history of obnoxious mothers; Abby felt certain that she could trust the woman—and it wasn’t as though she had a lot of other options.

Her mother would be horrified that Abby was about to head off with a stranger, but Abby was going to trust her instincts.

She held out her hand.  “Abby.  You’re a lifesaver.”

They shook.  “Lindsay.  This is Jessica.  And the only rule I have is this: as you value your life, don’t tell me I look like anyone famous.”

The resemblance crystallized, and Abby tried to nod as solemnly as possible.

Lindsay cracked a smile, and Abby grinned back.  It looked as though her European adventure wasn’t quite over after all, and she was going to have such a story to annoy her mother with when she got back.


Link to Leaping Before Looking.


2 Responses to “volcanic eruptions and immovable mountains by phoenix.writing”

  1. jmforceton April 26, 2010 at 3:43 am #

    Her mother would be horrified that Abby was about to head off with a stranger, but Abby was going to trust her instincts.

    Have a daughter who has cycled cross the USA and done this so often it makes my head spin.

  2. ingridfnl April 26, 2010 at 8:49 pm #

    Oh fantastic. 🙂 What a wonderful outcome. Somehow I liked Abby immediately. I hope her delay ends up being a welcome one. 🙂

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