The Nice Thing About Strangers

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

The Well-Behaved

The baby has more hair than most of Economy Class. Her mother totes the tot in a carrier over her front, like a nervous tourist who carries their backpack over their stomach, but this mother is calm. She also guides a toddler who clutches a set of pink headphones.  They find their way to a center row, preparing for the long flight to Europe. Also boarding around them are members of an elderly tour group, most with lanyards and nametags. Those near to the mother and children are in quick to compliment the baby girl’s hair. Her slightly older sister settles in for take off, then seems to know the moment when her ipad will be allowed. She watches cartoons quietly. She snacks, she helps her mother, she naps, she sits patiently.

As the flight wears beyond the six hour mark, the other passengers try unsuccessfully to sleep, they stand, pace, stretch, hunt the cabin for their sleeping friends–more restless than the mother and her tiny girls. An antique woman watches several of the Planet of the Apes movies on her in-seat television while her adult daughter snores.

By the end of the flight, the baby’s hair stands out from her head like a five-pointed mohawk hairstyle. Some of the old men look the same after attempts to rest, but the grey spikes and tufts don’t inspire oooos and awwws in their neighbors.  The baby gazes over her mother’s shoulder at the crowd of groggy admirers, waiting for the doors to finally open, wondering what the future holds.

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