Chapter 1 – Extract 1 from The Paradise Induction!
Chris peered out of the vehicle that was about to change his life forever.
From what he could see, hundreds of passengers ready to fly across the Atlantic had boarded the jumbo-size aeroplane. Excited chatter forced the reality upon him; he was travelling across to the other side of the world to start his life over – be born again in Caribbean paradise.
Pleased he was positioned in a seat with a window, the allotted flight time was over seven hours to his first stop JFK, New York. Thankfully, the view from the plane would remove any form of claustrophobia, that might attempt to afflict him.
He felt a tap on his shoulder.
“Excuse me,” said the woman seated beside him. “I’ve got a bit of a favour to ask you. I understand if you say ‘no’ but well…do you mind if my son swaps seats with you to sit by the window? He was really hoping for a seat with a view of the sky and that.”
Chris’ head flicked to look out the window before he turned back to the woman, whose tired eyes sagged with her forced smile of discoloured teeth.
“Sure,” he said and began unfastening his seat belt.
“Thank you so so much,” she said as if his answer took the world off her shoulders.
“That’s alright,” he replied as he rose and squeezed out from between the row of seats.
The boy of about ten, who was already stood in the aisle with a nervous smile on his face, jumped across his mother, and took his new place.
As he sat down beside the aisle and fastened his seat belt, Chris nodded at the child.
The kid peered out the window and Chris could see his inflated cheeks protruding, indicating his grin.
“Thank you ever so much,” repeated the woman in a way that sounded like she was catching her breath . “What’s your name?”
“Chris,” he said.
“I’m Eadie and this is Darren. What do you say to Chris?” said the mother, prodding her son.
“Thank you Chris,” said Darren.
“That’s okay,” replied Chris.
She extended her hand. “Nice to meet you and really, thank you for that. You’re very kind.”
“That’s quite alright, and nice to meet you too.” He shook her hand.
“Looks like we’re ready then, innit?” she said.
“Looks that way.”
“So are you headed to New York as well then?”
“No. Change of flights at New York to go to San Juan, and then onto the Pharisee Islands.”
“Wow, sounds very nice. Never heard of them.”
“Not many people have. They’re really an unknown location to us and we don’t even see them advertised in the UK, but they’re a group of Caribbean islands owned by the British just under Puerto Rico.”
“How long you there for then?”
“Could be a year. Could be many years. I’m not sure yet.”
“Oh, so you’re moving out there then?”
“Have you been there before?” she continued.
“Yeah I was there on holiday before so just um -” Chris paused to collect his thoughts. “Just seeing how things go when I arrive.”
“You got a job out there as well?”
“Um, yeah, uh – I’m going to be a bartender for the first time in my life.” He smiled.
“Oh wow – you’re gonna have a great time, all them lovely ladies,” she said, then leaned in close to Chris. “Bet they’re gonna love you.”
Chris continued to smile. “It’s definitely gonna be a new experience, that’s for sure.”
The woman leered. “Oh I’m sure it will be.” She turned back to her son. “Make sure you’re buckled in there love.”
Chris scanned the plane, seeing everyone seated, and the cabin crew walking backwards down the aisle checking seat belts. The plane’s automated announcement-bell rang; the Captain greeted his passengers through the intercom, and the screens on the backs of chairs broadcasted an airline safety video.
Chris let his chin rest on his chest and closed his eyes.
The night before, one of his friends had reassured him about his impending, life-changing journey: “no matter what Chris, when you hear that plane engine, you’ll be excited.”
Chris had guaranteed that his mind was in such a strange place about crossing to the other side of the world, that he wouldn’t be excited at all.
His friend had protested.
The low growling of the plane’s engine commenced. The vehicle began to gain speed. And then, the authoritative roar of the jet projecting them forward informed Chris of the uncompromising truth; no turning back now.
Chris’ face remained blank.
Before he digested it, the vessel was flying out of London Heathrow Airport, soaring toward New York. It all seemed like he was playing out a prophesied scenario – a segment of his life he’d known he was going to have to live. He was conscious that his feelings toward this transition were unusual – that most people would be brimming with enthusiasm over emigrating to tropical Caribbean paradise; the islands, with their soothing heat, white sand beaches, glowing sun, azure blue ocean, beautiful women, and tasty cocktails.
It was an escape plan he’d promised himself long ago, but now, it felt like an obligatory relocation – like he’d been forced out of London completely against his will.
With his eyes still closed, he swallowed hard and his eyes welled up. Just hours ago, he’d said goodbye to his parents. He replayed the last words he held with them in his mind.