Tuesday, May 28, 2013


Homework: up to 500 words on the following prompts.

An out of work flight attendant
Top hat

Katherine sipped cold latte at a café table in an outdoor market. The touristy area was crowded for a Monday. Weekend street performers who usually returned to day jobs were in full force, juggling, on unicycles and in top hats. Those painted like bronze statues jerked to life in response to donated coins and bills. Foot traffic was unusually heavy. Out of towners mingled with college kids. Backpacks, baseball caps and baggy jeans abounded.

Her coffee was hot when she arrived an hour earlier. At 49 degrees, the day chilled her beverage almost to the temperature of her blood. Yesterday had been warmer, but yesterday seemed eons ago, and her job with Swiss Air felt like a memory from another lifetime.

She waited for a phone call in the cool sunshine. Her stern demeanor kept strangers at a distance. Even foraging birds knew better than to approach. An aggressor who asked to join her at the table appeared perplexed, even violated at the suddenness with which he found himself alone. Without a word, she stood and moved to a less congested location. Her sunglasses hid dark circles and darting glances.

Occasionally tilting the undrinkable coffee to her lips, she reached into her oversized handbag for a newspaper. It occupied the open tabletop as a deterrent to future interlopers and provided a backdrop to the cellphone at her fingertips.

They rehearsed and reviewed a hundred times at her insistence. Drop. Call. Confirm. The protocol was solid, but time drained her of confidence and fed her angst. It was a recipe that had proved to be her undoing on the final flight in her four-on-three-off overnight schedule. The passengers were restless and demanding, the Atlantic crossing choppy and her nerves frayed by the time they approached Logan. They circled for two hours as her anger mounted. 12C pushed her too far.

The phone rang. She fumbled, edgy despite her readiness.

“Clear, Go” came the message. The call ended.

Moments later a second caller.

“Clear Go.”

Katherine reached into her handbag. She counted to fifteen as practiced. Her fingers stroked plastic shields and flipped them open. She pressed firmly, first one, a count of ten, then the other. Canon fire echoed twice in the distance. Commotion ensued in Quincy Market.

Tamerlan would be proud.

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