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I'm Broken

Warning: Emotional trauma

By JBazPublished 6 months ago Updated 4 months ago 10 min read
Top Story - April 2023
I'm Broken
Photo by lauren lulu taylor on Unsplash

"Daddy, I'm broken."

A phone call at two in the morning, and those words crying out in the dark are the reason I am on this flight. I went to find my daughter, my little girl.

It wasn't easy, but she was coherent enough to give me directions, and from her history I can now fly into any city and know where to find her. It's usually where they all hang out.

That was five days ago, I am now on another flight, returning home.

Sitting in silence, there is only one other person in the row, and he isn't much of a talker. Leaning back in my chair I stare at the empty window seat, imagining another time. She was five and excited for her first plane trip, her face pressed up against the window. Turning to me she smiled and said, 'Daddy, I want to fly.'


I open my eyes and see beautiful soft dark eyes staring at me. "Yes?" I reply.

"Would you care for a beverage and something to eat?" She inquires.

The man beside me speaks up. "No."

The flight attendant keeps eye contact with me. "I wasn't asking you... sir. I was talking to the gentleman next to you."

I smile and shrug my shoulders. She leans over and pulls down my tray, retrieving items from her cart, then sets a sandwich, bag of chips and a cola in front of me. Giving me a nod, she says. "My name is Anna, if you need anything let me know." She moves on.

"Hey what about me?" Calls out my seating companion.

Without turning around Anna replies. "You said no."

I chuckle.

The man leans forward, lifts his arm towards my tray. From a couple of rows away we hear Anna call out. "And don't even think about eating his food."

I really wasn't hungry, but ate half my sandwich, so as not to be rude.

"Go ahead you can take the other half. " I whisper.

"And get on her bad side, no thanks." But he takes the chips.

While he is munching away I let my mind drift back to events five days ago. After landing and asking certain people, certain questions I knew where to go, after doing this so many times, it really is that easy. Angela would call from some strange place, I would find her, bring her back, place her in treatment. Promises given , never kept and the cycle would continue. Finally, my wife couldn't do it anymore, our friends and family said I had to let her go. I couldn't, she is my little girl, I will always be her father. She was a bright child, energetic and loving.

She came home at sixteen with angel wings tattooed on her back, she said it was to help her fly. Her mother lost it, she wanted to sue the tattoo parlor. That was the start, one or two more bad choices and suddenly she was lost.

"You going to drink that cola?"

My eyes snap open. "What?"

"The cola, you going to drink it? The chips are salty, I need something to wash it down."

"Go ahead, it's all yours."

"Thanks man."

In a few moments Anna returns, with a fresh soda for myself and a disgusted look for my seat partner.

Because we are seated in the back, just in front of the washrooms there is a steady stream of people who walk past. Most give me a nod and a half-hearted smile. Others avoid eye contact. I was the last one on the plane, so they all saw me arrive. Unless you were a hermit, with no visibility to the outside world, you would recognize me. I do my best to smile back, I do not wish anyone to feel uncomfortable.

The cabin lights dim as we continue the flight into the night. Most passengers begin to settle down and try to rest. I cannot sleep.

I stare out the darkened window, tiny drops of rain dance and slide on the clear pane. The hum of the engines soothe me.

Closing my eyes, I revisit my trip.

The Uber driver refused to drive me to the exact destination. Pulling over he said I would have to walk the rest of the way, but strongly suggested I change my mind. Saying he could take me to a nice hotel instead. I politely thanked him for his concern, told him I would be fine and then walked away. It was no more than fifteen minutes, and I was there. I found my self standing in front of an old derelict hotel. You could tell it was magnificent at one time. Gorgeous stonework, with gargoyles gracing the skyline, at one time looking down and protecting all who entered. Now they look down in disgust and pity.

Pulling out my flashlight, as I said I've done this before and normally it is always dark, I step into a living hell. It is the smell that assaults your senses first, urine and feces mixed with body odor. You'll never find that combination in any perfume bottle. If the upper floors were anything like the main lobby I should be able to find her quickly, as most of the walls were torn down and there wasn't a single door on any of the rooms. I know my daughter, even in her state she needs to be close to a window and up high. She loved to look at the sky and the stars, she always wanted to fly. Stepping over bodies splayed out on the stairs I climb. Careful, so I do not disturb these poor souls. Sleep is the only peace they have. I do not wish to wake them back into the nightmare world they are now forced to live in.

I am once more brought back to reality as the plane takes a sharp drop, I feel the seat belt bite into my hip. The drink flies up and lands on my neighbors lap, right in the one spot you do not want a spill to occur.

"Oh, for Christ sake." These are the only words he gets out before an announcement echoes throughout the plane.

'Attention passengers, we are flying into a storm, and as you can see we may experience some turbulence. Please keep seat belts on at all times and remain in your seat. We should be through this shortly.'

The continuous drop and rise cause a queasy sensation, in my stomach. An all to familiar feeling as of late. My partners fingers are clenched into the arm rest so tight it will have permanent divots. My hands were clenched just like that recently.

I drift away, remembering.

Continuing up the stairs, hand tight on the railing, I climb to the top, figuring to work my way down, it is only seven flights, but it is more crowded than I expected. Having no luck on the top two floors I started to have doubts whether I had the correct place, it was less then ten hours since her call, Angela should still be here. I'm not sure if it was instinct, but instead of continuing down I went back up to the top floor. I already circled the outer area, I now focused on the areas in the middle with sheets hung up like makeshift rooms. Broken windows allowed the afternoon light to shine an eerie haze throughout the floor and wind gusts to weave through, stirring the stained bedsheets. It was behind one of those that I could hear coherent words, unlike the babble that would normally come from this lot.

I hear someone speak in a high pitch. "Jesus, what the fuck do we do with this?"

"Ya know the routine, wrap it up and roll it in the river."

A deep voice slowly asks. "Why the fuck did you do that, man? Cleo is going to be pissed.”

My heart begins to pound, my mouth is dry. I continue forward toward the voices. A gust blows past and raises the curtain. I see four men standing staring at a lump laying at their feet. The sheet falls back and blocks my view.

The voices continue.

"Why don't we just dump it down the street in some garbage bin?"

"We don't want the cops hanging around. Right now, they leave us alone, this is going to complicate things."

"Just do it."

I hear my own voice sounding hollow. "Do what?"

The four turn to face me, one draws a gun. I raise my hands showing I am unarmed.

"Hey Guys, I'm just looking for my daughter, once I get her I'll be gone."

The one with the gun, steps closer and yells. "You a cop?"

I keep my hands out and say calmly. "No, I'm just a father who wants to bring his daughter home."

"She ain't here man."

I notice they all sport teardrop tats, these aren’t junkies, they’re bad men.

"Well, She said she was, so I am going to look for ....." In the shadowed light I see wings, angels wings. I don't think, I just rush forward and fall on my knees at the half naked form curled at their feet.

I begin screaming, there is yelling, a gun shot rings out. All turns silent.

I look, the gun pointing up now lowers towards me, as plaster dust settles around us. I stand up, rage begins to build inside. Cursing the pharmaceutical companies, the doctors who prescribe the drugs, fully aware of the consequences. I rage inside, thinking about our government who allow needles to be handed out freely, yet won't offer assistance for the high cost of treatment. And these assholes who deal it.

Deep voice turns to the man with the gun. "He's seen to much."

This part is vague, my mind either doesn't fully recall or I chose not too. I only remember every hurt, every anger I had locked up inside me released. I’m guessing my military training kicked in, instinct and penned up anger took over. The next clear thing I remember is dozens of drugged out junkies running everywhere, and four bodies lying in their own pool of blood. The gun, hot and smoking in my hand.

They won't be selling their shit anymore.

As sirens echoed in the distance. I wrapped my little girl in a dirty blanket, picked her up and held her until the police came.

An announcement wakes me from my nightmare, the pilot is saying we are preparing for landing. He asks everyone to remain seated as they have a passenger who will be off loaded first.

Meaning me.

From somewhere up front a single clap can be heard. I look up to see Anna staring at me, her hands come together again, then a second person joins in, and another until the cabin fills with one continuous clap in unison.

Sheriff Connelly turns to me. ”Looks like you’re a celebrity.”

I rub the steel cuffs on my wrist.

”I don't want to be a celebrity. I want to be a father.”

Glancing at the empty window seat. I see my little girl staring out the window, a smile on her face.

'Fly little girl, you're free at last.'

As always, I wish to thank you for reading my story.



About the Creator


I have enjoyed writing for most of my life, never professionally.

I wish to now share my stories with others, lets see where it goes.

Born and raised on the Canadian Prairies, I currently reside on the West Coast. I call both places home.

Reader insights


Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

Top insights

  1. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

  2. Heartfelt and relatable

    The story invoked strong personal emotions

  3. On-point and relevant

    Writing reflected the title & theme

  1. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

  2. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  3. Eye opening

    Niche topic & fresh perspectives

  4. Expert insights and opinions

    Arguments were carefully researched and presented

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Comments (41)

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  • Saad Zafar5 months ago

    Wow, great it was amazing!!! Why not check out my stories?

  • mohamed nawfan5 months ago

    Wow! . You are a great storyteller! Awesome take on the challenge!

  • Loryne Andawey5 months ago

    You did warn me this contained emotional trauma, which was why I steered away from it until now. But if you told me I would get to see a bit of John Wick I would have come running 😆. This was a beautiful and bittersweet story and I'm so glad it got the Top Story recognition it deserved! Well done!

  • Heather Hubler5 months ago

    This hits extra close to home as I just found out one of my son's classmates passed at the age of 22 from a drug overdose. He was in and out of rehab for the last several years. I also worked in a drug and alcohol counseling center when I was younger. This is such a sad reality for too many families. What a beautifully told heartbreaking tragedy. Amazing writing, my friend :) Congratulations on Top Story!

  • Shadow James5 months ago

    Thoroughly enjoyed it.. Thanks so much. I look forward to reading more of your work. You are a very talented writer.

  • Oh wow! That was so damn good! I will say, I didn't expect that twist at the end, but you went through it all with this story! It was emotional, it had some humor, suspense, I was trying to figure it out as it went along and you kept peeling back layer after layer, so expertly done. That was an amazing story and definitely worthy of a top story, congratulations!

  • Charlotte Flores6 months ago

    What a beautiful story. I really enjoyed reading your story. It is clear that you are a talented writer. How beautifully you described the flashback to the past and the present and reminiscing, and this was one of the strengths of your story. The end of the story was very beautiful. Congratulations. I hope I can read your stories again in the future. If you want to read my stories too. I would be happy to know your opinion.

  • PJ Jackelman6 months ago're ready - for that novel, I mean. What are you waiting for?

  • Wow...I work for an organization where we hear stories of death, heros and lives made better that tear me up/make me cry. This is the first time a story has done so. Incredibly well done, I knew what was coming but I couldn't stop reading. I wanted to share in the father's grief. I am awed and humbled. Beautiful.

  • Gerald Holmes6 months ago

    This is so well penned. Truly great story-telling. I really hope that this gets recognized in the challenge.

  • Harmony Kent6 months ago

    Oh, Jason, I’m so delighted to see this as Top Story! Congratulations 😁😁😁

  • K. C. Wexlar6 months ago

    Great story and imagery - congratulations!!

  • Great Storytelling ❤️Congratulations on your Top Story✨🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉📝💯

  • Liz Sinclair6 months ago

    oh what a beautiful and sad story - really hope you win the top prize. so well written.

  • Farhan Mirza 6 months ago

    true dedication

  • Phil Flannery6 months ago

    Thank you, that was great. Well done getting top story.

  • Adil Rasool6 months ago


  • Brenton F6 months ago

    Twenty four hours later and I'm back still trying to conjure a decent comment for this wonderful piece of work. I've read it three times and it just gets better - well done!

  • Mariann Carroll6 months ago

    Congratulations on Top Story. This was a very Captivating story. Did not expected that ending .

  • Kristen Balyeat6 months ago

    Oh my, this broke my heart! Beautifully written! Congrats on top story!

  • Caroline Craven6 months ago

    This was brilliant… but incredibly sad. Great writing.

  • Ahna Lewis6 months ago

    This storytelling was so excellent! I loved how you slowly gave away more and more details as the reader tries to put together the pieces. You definitely caught me by surprise at the end. Congrats on a well-deserved Top Story!

  • Congratulations on Top Story!

  • Babs Iverson6 months ago

    So emotional!!! Beautiful job of weaving the stories!!! Left some love!!!!💖😊💕

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