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Fool's Gold: Emily: Inconsolable

by Nikolle Freeman 9 months ago in Short Story
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Tears and turmoil. Emily finds some comfort.

When strangers become friends.

“Michael!”

Emily scrambled to her feet just as the door locked shut. She pulled at the door handle, her small hands losing their grip as she cried harder.

A few passengers shuffled uneasily in their seats, they dropped their eyes to their laps; unable to look out the windows at those they had left behind and too exhausted themselves to aid the girl crying at the front of the plane. The soldier who had thrown her on board had a flash of regret on his face before he steeled himself and scruffed the wailing child roughly.

“That’s enough,” he barked,” find a seat and quiet down. We have a long flight ahead of us and no one has the energy for your cryin’.” He scanned the rows quickly, looking for an open spot.

Emily tugged at her shirt neck,” You’re choking me.”

She wheezed wetly and began to kick her feet as he dragged her down the aisle. A hand shot out just as he passed the 12th row, the soldier paused and prepared himself for an argument. Wasn’t this hard enough as it was? What had he done to deserve this? He squeezed his eyes shut and turned a scowl to the owner of the hand that had snagged his elbow.

“She can sit here.”

The soldier felt the tension in his shoulders sag out, he loosened his grip on the girl and tugged her towards the row of seats. Emily pushed his hands off and staggered into gentle, waiting arms. The situation now under control, the soldier made his way back to the front of the plane. With any luck there would be some first class alcohol he could drown himself in.

Emily was scooped into the lap of a middle aged woman, two other adults sat beside her and Emily wasn’t sure if the three of them were family or not. The woman tucked Emily’s head into her neck and shushed her quietly.

“Now, now,” the woman soothed, her voice hoarse but gentle,”I’ve got you.” Emily hiccuped and tucked herself into the embrace,”..my Michael..,” she warbled,” I want my Michael.”

Emily could feel the woman’s hands shake as she brushed back Emily’s hair. “I know,” came the shaky reply,” we all want our Michael back. Unfortunately there’s no way I, nor anyone on board, can get him back for you.” Emily felt more tears stream down her cheeks and soak into the woman’s shirt,” you...you had a Michael?” She unconsciously stuck her thumb into her mouth, a habit Michael used to tease her about.

The woman cupped the back of Emily’s head and rocked the two of them side to side in her seat,” Oh, yes,” she whispered thickly,” my Michael was about your age, his name was Joshua” Emily felt the woman’s chest shake as she held back a sob.

“Everyone on board has lost their own ‘Michael’ themselves. We all have to look after each other now. Are your parents on board?”

Emily bit her thumb and cried harder,” They left,” she sobbed around her hand,” we’re...I..I’m all alone!” Her crying started anew, only this time she was pulled in tight and muffled into a shoulder.

The plane had taken off some time ago. The previously stone-like passengers had wilted into their seats and succumbed to their grief. Now, the sound of the distraught child caused others to weep.

“I’m all alone,” Emily choked out, thumb wet with spit and her face drenched with tears,” I’m all alone.”

“I have you,” the woman’s voice wavered but her hold was firm,” I have you.” Emily wasn’t sure how long she cried but she took comfort from the stranger who hummed and rocked her carefully.

“My name is Tara,” the woman whispered,” Tara Langfield.” Emily thought she murmured the name back, but her eyelids were getting heavy and she felt so tired. Tara leaned Emily back and stroked her cheek softly,” That’s right,” she smiled sadly,” get some rest. We all have long days ahead of us.”

Emily let her thumb fall out of her mouth and she hooked her fingers into her locket chain. Tara readjusted the small body tucked against her breast, she wasn’t sure how much longer the flight was going to be; nor was she sure exactly where they were going. But Tara knew that she was now the only person who would, or could, look after the young girl in her lap.

“I’m not replacing you,” Tara whispered,” I could never replace you, Joshua, but she needs me. I won’t let her down like I let you down.”

Tara laid her temple against the crown of Emily’s head, she squeezed her eyes shut and finally allowed her own tears to fall. The plane shuddered from turbulence and Tara drifted into a much needed sleep of her own.

Short Story

About the author

Nikolle Freeman

Aspiring horror/thriller writer. Currently working on short stories/prompt fills. I have a larger piece I am working on and look forward to opportunities on Vocal.

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