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  • Isabel would hire a coach. That's what she would do. Everyone seemed to have one. Executive coach. Life coach. Sobriety coach. The more you repeat a word the less sense it makes. Coach. A horse-drawn carriage, especially a closed one, said the dictionary she carried with her. A well-thumbed paperback Webster's. As far as synonyms went, she liked brougham best. It was so Lady and Lord Grantham. Better than a wagon or railroad car though Pullman was nice, conjuring porters graciously stowing luggage, giving ladies in hats a white gloved hand as they stepped into their private compartment or entered the dining car. They'd say "ma'am" like they do in the American South. Did they say "ma'am" and "sir" to Ne . . . , African Americans too? She didn't know any one she could ask and it would be rude to approach a stranger with the question, wouldn't it? In any event, she had no plans to travel southward anytime soon. She picked up the dictionary again. Coach class, on airplanes. Economy. The troisième classe of the jet set. Back in the early '70s when she spent a post-collegiate year in Europe on a Eurail pass, no one in troisième classe smelled as if they'd bathed in days, weeks. She remembered the uproar when Disneyland Paris opened and asked its employees to shower every day. Old Walt offended the entire country. She giggled a little at that, calling attention to herself from the woman seated in 24D. Back in high school, there had only been football coaches. All other sports just had P.E. teachers. Well, what did anyone expect. Football was where it was at. Then and now. A few things didn't change. What she actually needed was a Digression Coach. Someone who would keep her on track. Bob, her husband, recently retired from the banana trade in Venezuela, import-export, leather on the side, needled her daily about the way she switched subjects. He couldn't keep track, he said. Was being driven crazy if you wanted to know the goddamn truth after 40 years of marriage. What were they waiting for, the kids to die? So he'd moved out the week before. Served papers on her yesterday. That's when she decided to just go to the airport and hop a plane to a random place. The stewardess, uh, "flight attendant," was announcing their landing in Juneau. She pulled her new Coach bag from beneath the seat in front of her and fished out her compact. She didn't look half bad. And everyone said any woman could find a husband in Alaska.

    400 words. 45 minutes
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