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a short story in the Sky

By Annie WoodPublished 11 months ago 4 min read
Photo by Leio McLaren on Unsplash

Traveling alone means you don’t know who you’ll get stuck sitting next to. It’s a good idea to always bring a book on long flights. But on the day that Jocelyn chose to fly to Hawaii for a private getaway, she packed her book in her check-in luggage and only had the thrilling inflight magazine to keep her busy. And busy is how she tried desperately to look when her flight mate, Horace, sat down beside her.

Horace was a well-dressed, older, business-type gent who apparently didn’t get much of an opportunity to talk. He seized his moment with Jocelyn, whether she liked it or not.

“So, are you meeting your husband in Hawaii?” he inquired.

“No,” answered Jocelyn as she pushed her seat back and pretended to be interested in taking a nap.

“Traveling for business?” he pushed on.

“No,” she once again replied. Feeling a bit guilty for her abruptness, she softly added, “Just taking some time off for myself.”

Evidently, that was enough to start Horace in on his unstoppable monologue. “Oh. Yes! That is important!” Horace said, delighted that his fish bit, “I remember the first time I flew alone. I was terrified. And I certainly don’t scare easily. In fact, my ex used to say that I was fearless. Oh! Did you see that movie? Fearless? Terrific film.”

And before Jocelyn knew what hit her, she was sucked into the non-stop gab machine called Horace. He asked questions without waiting for answers. He repeated himself and didn’t care if anyone was listening. He spoke of his three ex-wives, aging father, selfish cousin Irving, and occasional alien abduction. He didn’t stop for his complimentary beverage, and he never got up to pee. He was a man on a mission — to bore Jocelyn to tears.

Horace continued, “Daughters are much harder to raise than sons. You have a lot more to worry about. Are you going to eat your peanuts?”

Jocelyn shook her head and watched as Horace gobbled down her peanuts and proceeded to explain his child-rearing philosophies.

“Daughters are more fragile. More susceptible to the world’s wrongdoers and such.”

He was relentless. It was as if it were actually painful for him to hear any other voice than his own.

For years Jocelyn looked forward to taking a trip to the islands. Now Jocelyn looked forward to one thing and one thing only.

Landing. And it couldn’t come fast enough.

Jocelyn was about to close her eyes to fake a nap, but something stopped her. She didn’t feel like Horace was hitting on her, and he wasn’t being offensive, just unable to read a room, which annoyed her. She remembered something her mother used to tell her.

When you find someone annoying, just picture them as a sweet, five-year-old child, and try to hear what they are really saying.

Jocelyn looked at Horace. She sculpted with her imagination a new face on Horace. It was a round, adorably soft face, and in this toddler Horace face, his wide eyes spoke to her. They said, “I just want someone to listen to me. Just for a little while.”

Jocelyn couldn’t help but smile a little because she could feel her annoyance slowly slipping away. She was only slightly put out and didn’t feel like shutting Horace completely down. But she didn’t lose sight of her own wants either. Jocelyn took out her smartphone and settled on a compromise. She set her timer for ten minutes. She will listen, really listen, for ten full minutes, and that’s it.

In those ten minutes, the unexpected happened. Jocelyn began to feel more relaxed than she had in a long time. In fact, she even began to enjoy the stories Horace was telling. She asked him questions which led to a back and forth, and the next thing you know, the ten minutes turned into an hour, the hour into two, and Jocelyn was actively, happily participating in a lively discussion about life, philosophy, movies, love, death and how yellow mustard is underrated.

Jocelyn was so involved in their lively conversation she didn’t even watch the inflight entertainment.

After the meal service, Horace is the one to drift off into a nap. Jocelyn watches him sleep peacefully and wonders how many people she had written off so quickly in her life. And for the first time ever, she wonders how many have done that to her.

When the seatbelt sign dings and the captain announces to prepare for landing. All Jocelyn could think was…

Oh, no. So soon?


written by anniewood

Short Story

About the Creator

Annie Wood

I'm a neurodiverse Hollywood native who writes fiction, plays & poetry. A common theme of mine is embracing your youness by not following the fold. I am in perpetual motion.

+ TV/Film/VO actor & mixed media artist.

Find all the links HERE!

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