Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Did y'all know I write fiction sometimes?

I found this short story I wrote a couple years ago buried in a file inside a file on my external hard drive. I originally wrote this for an English class in college. Hope you like it. I'd like to do this more often. Write, I mean. And maybe share. Maybe not.

Before we get started, I'd like to point out a couple things. Firstly, the formatting...blogger will not let me put spaces between paragraphs as I'd like, no matter how many times I hit the enter key. Except in a few places for some reason. Also, that I chose the name "Cody" before I actually knew anybody by that name except my step-dad's brother's step-kid. If that makes sense. My "cousin", let's just say. And it seems like a lot of work to change it. So there's that.

The file I found this in was titled "found story". I think we had to find words that didn't go together and make a story, or use a newspaper article or something like that.


The Sunshine

Cody sat down in the airport pre-board waiting room. After the routine check-in did-you-pack-your-bags-yourself and do-you-have-a-laptop-or-liquids-in-your-carry-on, he was tired. Airports have a kind of frantic monotony about them that is exhausting. Hurry up and wait. Don’t leave anything unattended. Be on time and be organized. Don’t raise your voice in exasperation when you hear that your flight has been cancelled for the third time. Be quiet. Be friendly but don’t draw attention to yourself (especially if you have brown skin these days). Don’t look suspicious. 
 Cody was on time. He was organized. He was ready.
He had, in fact, arrived at the airport before the recommended time, three-hours-early and had checked in immediately. He had purchased his bottled water and magazines after he went through the security screening area (where he took his shoes off without being asked, to speed things up). He knew when to show his boarding pass, and when to walk through the metal detectors. His toothpaste was regulation size, and packed neatly in a Ziploc bag, along with his travel sized deodorant and his travel sized contact solution.
When the flight attendants finally announced boarding for any passengers with disabilities or small children, Cody got in line. He didn’t need the extra time to board the airplane; he just liked to find his seat before the airplane gets too crowded. All the elbows and jostling made him feel claustrophobic. The air always seemed to get too warm when all those people were searching for their own tiny space in the aircraft. 
Cody checked his ticket twice, found his seat (6F), and sat down. He buckled his seatbelt immediately and pushed his laptop bag underneath the seat in front of him. He had flown a hundred times before, and knew what to do. He wanted to be ready for take-off without having to be told by a flight attendant. He adjusted his button-front shirt so the buckle of his seatbelt would be in plain view from the aisle.
“Watch it, asshole”
General boarding had commenced. People were flooding into the cabin, practically shoving each other out of the way as even more impatient people waited in a never-ending line-up of passengers with carry-on bags.
Why must people bring so much luggage? Cody wondered idly from the comfort of his window seat. He felt cool and collected. He was far removed from the herd of cattle that was stampeding into the airplane.

“Okay. Mister Purdom, Mister Quinney, you will be in seats 6E and 6D.” Said the flight attendant at the front of the plane, checking their tickets.
Cody glanced up at his soon-to-be in-flight neighbours. Oh no. Teenagers.
 “Did you hear that?” said one of them, a tall boy whose legs were misleadingly shortened by the low rise of his shorts, “MISTER Quinney. I be thuggin’ so hard.”
“Can it, Tyrone, I don’t even know what that means.” 
“Whatever white boy. Whatever Nelson.”
“No, man, it’s MISTER PURDOM to you. No…actually you can call me…Mister PurDUNK, seat 6E.”
“Nelson PurdUMB, more like it. You got the middle seat.”
“Ah shit. I gotta sit next to this strange dude and you? That’s fuckin’ gay. No offence man.” He said to Cody, rubbing his shaved head.
Cody sighed as he watched more and more kids enter the cabin. Of course he had to be stuck on the same plane as an entire high-school basketball team. 
He was already quite annoyed that the Helicopter Society hadn’t told him about the sales convention in Argentina until two days ago. He had hardly had time to pack his bag and ask his neighbour to feed Barkley while he was away. Sure, they were comping his food and hotel room for the week, but it was still an inconvenience. He can’t always be expected to drop everything for his job, can he?
And Renee. She said it was alright, and she understood, but she was obviously disappointed that he was breaking their big date. They were supposed to go to the museum where they had first met, to check something out. She wouldn’t say what it was, except that she was really excited to see his reaction to it. They were also supposed to go out that weekend with friends to celebrate an 
At least there were no babies on this flight.  
The boys tossed their bags into the overhead compartment, and sat down. Cody noticed that the boy in the far seat had written on the front of his plain blue t-shirt with a marker. It said “Mr. Hansome on Deck”, with an arrow pointing to his head. 
Cody looked away, afraid he would laugh. He tried to remember what it was like to be in high school but could not seem to imagine his self being so stupid, although somewhere deep down, he knows that he must have been. Everybody was. 
“Dude, I cannot believe we are going to be playing in the green magic. It’s, like, an amazing opportunity for our team.”
Ah, that makes sense. He had once heard that Argentinians are crazy about sports. The Green Magic is some sort of tournament or stadium or something, he thought. It was famous, but he couldn’t remember why.
After the standard making-fun-of-the-safety-demonstration pamphlet by his seat neighbors, and the taking-off staring out the window, Cody pulled his trusty eye mask from his bag. He didn’t always use it to fall asleep. It was more of a chatty-neighbour deterrent, and he was afraid these little homeboys were going to start talking to him about sports, something he knew nothing about. He glanced at the boys. They were watching him. In an uncharacteristic moment of self-conscious defeat, though, he tucked it back into his laptop bag’s front pocket. He didn’t want to use it in front of these boys. They might call me gay again.
He pulled the in-flight magazine out of the back pocket of the seat in front of him instead and thumbed through to the article on time-zones and jet lag. The magazine suggested the reader change his watch as soon as possible in order to allow himself to adapt to the new time as soon as possible, and that spending time outdoors during daylight hours would allow the circadian rhythms to adapt to the new time zone because of the body’s reaction to natural light. 
Cody changed his watch to Eastern Argentinian time, and tried to tell himself that that was the actual time. It seemed strange for him to be able to change the actual time manually, but logically the idea made sense. 
The boys beside him were watching. They looked at each other.
“Yo, Tron. What time is it in Argentina?” said the boy with the shaved head to somebody across the aisle.
Cody turned his wrist so that his watch face was pointing directly toward the boy, hoping that they wouldn’t feel the need to ask him the time. The boy slyly shifted his eyes toward Cody’s arm, trying to make it look as though he came up with the time on his own, 
“Six thirty three.” He declared, crossing his arms definitively.  
The boy sitting across the aisle leaned toward them. 
“The magazine says that the best things to do in Rivadavia are...”
“Whats a riverdavina?” Asked the boy closest to Cody.
“I said RIVADAVIA idiot...it’s where our airplane is landing. Duh.”
“Oh...I knew that.
“So anyway it says that the best things to do are go fishing, go to the beach, go surfing, and...land...yachting.”
“Landyashting? What the hell is that?”
“Dude I have no idea. Look at the picture.” He leaned harder, straining against his seatbelt and the armrest, brandishing the magazine which was folded open to a two-page spread of a man on what appeared to be a surfboard bicycle with a sail attached to it.
“It says this guy made this thing go 160 kilometers an hour. How fast is that in American?”
“I dunno. Like, really fast. That’s crazy. We should totally try it.”
They were interrupted by the tall, dark flight attendant pushing the drink cart down the narrow aisle.
“Can I get you a drink?” He asked, smiling serenely and nodding his head to indicate he meant to ask Cody first.
Cody leaned forward and said too-loudly that he would like some Orange Juice with No Ice. What he really wanted was to order a beer, if only to distinguish himself from the high-school students he was surrounded by. They might be able to copy his watch changing and his magazine reading, but none of them could purchase alcohol legally yet. Unfortunately, he had heard that you get three times as drunk when you drink on an airplane than on the ground, and he hated being out-of-control drunk. Orange juice would have to do.
Cody unlatched the tray table in front of him, and the flight attendant, (Mark his nametag proclaimed), handed him a tiny plastic tumbler of lukewarm orange juice, wrapped in a napkin. 
“Would you like bits and bites, or pretzels?”
“Uhm...pretzels, please.” What the hell are bits and bites?
Both of the boys to his right ordered cokes and bits and bites, which turned out to be different types of cereal and pretzels mixed together in an airplane-serving sized bag. Cody was glad he asked for pretzels. At least they didn’t smell like dried ketchup. He took a drink of his orange juice.
The kid beside Cody chose that exact moment to gesture wildly with his arms, bumping Cody’s hand, and sloshing juice all over his arm and the tray-table. The seatbelt light was on, so he didn’t want to unbuckle to go to the washroom to clean up. He didn’t want to risk a reprimand from Mark.
Cody was always prepared for moments such as this. He pulled a package of wet-naps from his pants pocket, and with this and the napkin Mark had given him, efficiently cleaned his hands, and the tray table. 
“For real, you have one of those in your pocket?” The kid with the shaved head asked, smirking.
After the seatbelt light was turned off, Cody stood up and shuffled sideways past the two boys and walked to the bathroom. He didn’t really have to go, and his hands were clean enough, but he was paranoid about getting blood-clots from sitting in the same position too long. He wanted to stretch his legs. He went into the washroom and washed his hands. He checked to make sure his collar and tie were just the way he liked them, and then went back to his seat, where he sat and listened to the inane banter of the high-school boys for a while:
“I’m bored. I wish I knew how to do, like, origami or something.”
“Yeah, like...weed cultivation runs in my family. I totally know how to grow it.”
 “I’m still hungry. I could totally scarp down a horse. What... Scarp? Yeah, it’s totally a word. Yes it is! Oh.... Yeah. Scarf...that’s what I said.”
“And she was like Shut up and I was like You shut up bitch. You know what I mean?”
Cody was bored, and decided that the time he was spending in the airplane could be at least 70% more productive if he listened to the Learning Spanish podcast he had downloaded onto his IPod that morning, rather than listening to the teenaged nonsense that was surrounding him.
Pocas horas mas tarde, a few hours later, the airplane rolled to a stop in Argentina. The pilot’s voice filled the air:
“Ladies and Gentlemen, it has come to my attention that your luggage has been mixed up with another flight on its way to Brussels, Germany, and will not be arriving here until tomorrow afternoon. We at ___ Airlines would like to take this opportunity to thank you for choosing to fly with us, and please, if you need anything, do not hesitate to approach the service desk, located inside the airport.”
There was a unanimous groan from the passengers. Some people were furious. 
A hippie girl with huge blue eyes burst into tears: “Where did they send my dog? Is he in Germany?!”
Cody wasn’t especially affected by this news. He had packed the majority of his important documents and toiletries in his carry-on bag, along with a change of clothes. He stood up calmly among the chaos, as tall as he could in the low-ceilinged aircraft and turned on his cell-phone. He could check his messages while everybody else got their shit together and exited the airplane. 
He only had one message on his phone. 
Hi Cody...it’s me, it’s Renee. 
Cody smiled. Renee always made him feel better.
Um...I know this is weird, leaving a message like this on your cell phone, but I’m just going to say it.
 There was a brief pause.
Okay...uh...this isn’t working anymore. 
Cody stopped smiling and started to sweat. It was too hot in the airplane.
I’m done being second best to your job. I hate waiting for you. The thing at the museum wasn’t just a thing. It was me...I was going to propose to you. I wanted to get married to you! 
Cody stood perfectly still, only hearing the voice on the phone that was breaking his heart and turning his mind into chaos. 
I’ve changed my mind. I’m sorry. Phone me when you get back, I know I still have all of your movies...at my house...sorry, that sounded stupid...um...so...yeah. That’s all. Call me when you get back. Okay. Bye.
The aisle was clear enough for Cody to exit the plane without bumping into anybody after he hung up. He walked to the front door, where Mark the flight attendant was waiting. 
“Bienvenidos a Argentina!” He said to Cody, smiling.
Cody gave a cursory nod and exited the plane. He walked halfway through the terminal before realizing he had forgotten his carry-on bag under the seat. He stood, thinking about it for a moment, and then walked outside into the sunshine.

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