Varsha (Monsoon) 2021 Stories - Joan Leotta


Low Country Treasure Map
By Joan Leotta


Ugh, another middle seat assignment on a long flight. “Well, it’s worth it to see Mom,” I told myself as I stepped over the drowsing man to the seat between him and his mini-me in the windowseat a good looking dark-haired seven or eight -year -old who was sound asleep.


My mother was spending her first Mother’s Day in her hometown city, Pittsburgh. Since it was also her birthday, Dad had arranged a catered dinner and had invited a few of her high school chums and their families. I’d never met most of these people. But I’d be spending time with my Mom and Dad and that would be balm for my soul after the breakup with Devon who hated children and who I recently realized was cheating on me.


“You need to get out,” my friend Heather advised. “Going home now is not the way to meet eligible male.”


As I leaned over to put my carry bag under the seat in front of me my purse managed to smack the man in the arm. He opened his eyes. I’d never seen such deep pools of sparkling green in a pair of eyes.


“So sorry!”


“Oh, we were told this flight would be nearly empty, so I booked aisle and window. Let me change with you.”


I looked at his long legs, angled toward the aisle and knew that on the five plus hour flight he would likely have to stand several times. “No, that’s all right.”


“”Jeremy will sleep the whole way, I’m sure. He was up most of the night— excited about visiting Grandma and Grandpa. I’m Josh.”


“I’m Jenna. I’m a children’s librarian in LA county. Sitting next to Jeremy is fine.”


He smiled. I thought I was going to faint. “Easy girl, married man with child here,” I told myself.


“My wife used to take Jeremy to libraryprograms before she became ill.”


“She’s not well?”


“Actually, she died two years ago. She was sick for just a month before the cancer took her. My Mom came to stay with us, for a few months, but then my Dad got sick. We visited when we could, but all we did was stay inside and help Mom. Now that Dad’s well, we plan on taking Jeremy to the Zoo, to the Science Museum, and more.”


The flight attendant intonedseatbelt and take off announcements. I made sure Jeremy’s belt was fastened. Josh closed his eyes again as the plane ascended.


I immersed myself in the latest Donna Leon mystery. About two hours in, Jeremy began to whimper. “Mommy, Mommy.” I put my book down and stroked his shoulder until he quieted. Then I softly hummed “Twinkle, twinkle, little star” until his breathing resumed the regularity of deep sleep.


Sighing, I turned back to my book, which promptly slid off my lap, landing next to Josh’s feet.


“I’ll get it. Jeremy loves that song. My parents live on Mt. Washington , the best place in Pittsburgh for stargazing. We like to sing it as the stars come out.”


Realizing Josh had been watching me with Jeremy, I blushed.


“You grew up in Pittsburgh?”


“Yep. Moved to LA for work. You?”


“My Mom and Dad are from Pittsburgh. We visited only occasionally.”


“Have you ever been to Mt. Washington?”


“I don’t think so. My cousins lived on the other side of town.”


“Jeremy and I could show you.”


I blushed again.


“I’m sorry, I’m being forward. You probably have a lot of things planned with your family.”


“I’m staying a week. I think all they have planned is the birthday and Mother’s Day celebration dinner with a lot of my Mom’s old high school buddies and their families.”




I noticed those green eyes of his sparkling. I nodded.


“Is your Mom’s name, Ellie?”


“Yes!” Surprised, I dropped the book again. Josh chuckled as he reached for it.


“Jeremy and I will be there. My Mom is Lina Rose. Lina Rose Duncan now. Your Mom and my Mom were best friends.”


“My Mom told me a lot of great stories about fun times with her bestie, Lina.”


“Maybe all of us, Moms, Dads, Jeremy, and you and me can go up to Mt. Washington together. And to the Zoo. Do you like the Zoo?”


“I love the Zoo. It was one place I did see on childhood visits. Mt Washington sounds amazing.”


Josh and I chatted quietly until just before landing when Jeremy finally woke upand joined the conversation. As we left the plane, Josh said, “I’m looking forward to showing you around Pittsburgh.”


“Me too,” Jeremy chimed in.


“Don’t forget Twinkle, twinkle little star on Mt Washington,” Jeremy shouted ashe and his Dad headed to the rental car counter and I went the other way to meet my father.


Seems Heather was wrong. I’d never gone on a date with two sets of parents and a child along, but after all, children, and parents—a wonderful pairing for Mother’s Day.


Joan Leotta from U.S. is a writer and story performer. Her short stories, articles, and poems are widely published. She often focuses on food, family, nature, and strong women. Joan has played with words on page and stage since childhood. Her poems, articles, essays, and short stories have appeared or are forthcoming in dozens of journals around the world including: Ekphrastic Review, The Lake, Pine Song, A-3 Review, When Women Write, Verse Visual, and Verse Virtual, Mystery Tribune, two Guppy Anthologies, Saturday Writers, Saddlebag Dispatch,, Red Eft, Red Wolf Journal, anti-heroin chic, Drunk Monkeys, and others. She has been a Tupelo Press 30/30 author, and a Gilbert Chappell Fellow. Her short story, Simply a Smile took the Kai Xin prize in Australia. Her chapbook, Languid Lusciousness with Lemon, is out from Finishing Line Press. Her chapbooks Nature’s Gifts is free from Stanzaic Stylings. Dancing Under the Moon and Morning by Morning, mini-chapbooks are free through Origami Press. Her collection of award-winning short stories, Simply a Smile, is out of print.


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