Anything but Minor - Kate Stewart

DEDICATION

For Patty Tennyson, Charleston, and my hero, John Hughes...but mostly for Patty Tennyson. Thank you for being the amazing friend you are. I love you.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we’re just about ten minutes outside of Charleston. Current conditions are sunny and seventy-three degrees. We hope you’ve enjoyed your flight. Please keep your seatbelts fastened as we prepare for landing. We know you have a choice in air travel, and we appreciate you flying with us.”

Seconds later, a more muffled Darth Vader order was barked at a faster speed.

“Flight attendants, prepare for landing.”

Freedom.

That was the only thought that crossed my mind after my mother’s unexpected, tearful, and mortifying goodbye at the Ohio airport.

“Remember your virtue. It’s the most sacred thing a woman has,” she said as she eyed the man behind me with distaste.

“Mom, don’t start this,” I said as she looked me over with threatening tears. I’d never had the heart to tell her. At twenty-four, I hadn’t been a virgin for years. She’d raised me to wait for marriage. I’d let Brian Callahan lift my skirt instead. A move I regretted, but I’d been far too curious.

“You keep yourself safe,” she urged again as she looked around us for any sign of disorder. My mother, though nurturing at times, had the bedside manner of Carrie’s mother from that terrifying Stephen King movie. Though I was never beaten for menstruating or locked in a closet to pray, she’d sheltered me to the point of almost making me wear a chastity belt to my senior prom. It had been a miracle she’d even let me go. Though I’d never been much for breaking the rules, due to her constant harping and paranoia, I was convinced I would burn in hell for taking a hit off a joint at a senior party, which I snuck out to attend.

And when I lost my virginity, I was even more convinced my soul had no safe haven to depart to. It was only months later that I realized if I didn’t remove myself from her iron grasp, I too would start to reach that level of crazy.

She wasn’t so much religious as she was paranoid. She feared everything and everyone and was always sure she could find a motive in someone else’s kindness. She remained unmarried after my runaway father divorced her when I was five. I knew I was all she had, but I had to get away. I’d only remained well-rounded due to my movie mothers: M’Lynn, Clairee, Truvy, and Ouiser from the movie Steel Magnolias...and, well, Uncle Buck.

College was a five-year blur. I rarely ventured from my dorm room at Cornell. It took all of those five years of school and even a few more years of flight time to slip into my newer, less terrified self. College had only salvaged me until summer hit, and I’d ended up right back in hell: Dayton, Ohio.

If I wanted any semblance of a normal life, I had to move far away from her, where I wouldn’t feel like I had to report my every move.

No, this freedom would be completely different, and the cloudless, neon blue sky through the rectangle window to my right told me so. I pulled up the forecast on my iPhone as soon as the crew announced it was safe and saw that sunny skies would be a constant for the next week. True spring was in full swing in the south and a far cry from the bipolar weather from which I came.

I’d just left the dreary, bleak slosh of my former life behind and quickly discarded the thick sweater I’d