The Nice Thing About Strangers

Creative Non-Fiction Short Stories. :) Travel, Oldsters, Love, and Compassion.

Nothing to See Here

The little boy sat with his legs folded under him and labored carefully in his notebook, writing plays for Arsenal, his favorite soccer club. A chilly Serbian woman and her boyfriend rested across from the boy, also waiting on a morning flight. As the tiny arms worked, she stared at his labors, enraptured. She became more beautiful. She leaned into her boyfriend, who put his arm around her. They both slipped into a trance: the boyfriend staring at the TV screen above, the woman focused on the studious boy.

The boy wore a grey and black striped sweater, black corduroy pants, brown loafers. His father stretched out over four nearby seats to sleep.  The boy had a red Arsenal pencil bag with a plastic pencil sharpener and ruler, both of which he dropped under the seats, the sharpener skittering away. He had to cross two rows of groggy adults to recover it.

He removed three pencils: yellow, purple, and red, then slowly zipped the bag closed again.  He nibbled at his lips as he worked, thumbing through the notebook’s pages, most of which had sketches of castles, soccer plays, or the flags of various countries. He read: “A. R. S. Eeeeee. N. Aaaaa. L.” Then he tried writing it backwards. “L. Aaaa. N. No no no,” he turned to another page and stared at the blank sheet to ponder, his forehead in his hand. Then he exhaled–“Phew!”–and flipped through again, talking his way through his work.

On the front of the notebook he had sloppily written his own name J-O-E. Then, again JOE underneath more carefully, reflecting pride of his name, the pride of ownership.  The Serbian woman’s eyes filled with tears, and she turned her smile at her boyfriend. As he gazed down at her expectant face, the boyfriend saw what she saw and began to cough, clear his throat, and grow nervous.  He elbowed her and gave a tight smile, then he gestured to his ipad and tried to distract her with other, less permanent, features of life.

-Vienna airport, Austria.

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This entry was posted on December 16, 2011 by in Europe, Inspiration, Travel and tagged , , , , , , .

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