A holiday woe gives stories flight.
Writers responded to the prompt, and what follows is a collection of perspectives in 99-word stories arranged like literary anthropology.
Those published at Carrot Ranch are The Congress of Rough Writers.
Friendly Skies by Michael Fishman
The announcement came at 7:55, just minutes before boarding.
“We’re sorry to announce that flight 497 to Minot has been cancelled—”
Thinking about the merger meeting at 11:00 I joined the grumbles from the other passengers. I opened my phone.
“—has partnered with Twilight Wish and today we’re fulfilling Edward Bendix’s wish. Mr. Bendix was an Air Force pilot during WW2. Today is his 100th birthday, and his wish is to pilot once more.”
The flight crew wheeled Edward toward the gate. His smile shone as bright as his Medal of Honor. I stood, returned his wave and applauded.
Repercussions of a Blizzard by Duane L Herrmann
I took my sons, 18 and 12, to Germany to visit relatives, then to Israel to the Baha’i World Center. Our first flight originated in Denver before coming to Kansas City, then to Chicago, then Germany. A blizzard in the Rockies canceled the first flight. We managed a second, but in Chicago the only seats to Germany were first class at regular price. I didn’t mind. Leaving Israel, I checked to be sure our flights were still good. They were. In Germany, I learned we had no flights home. I had the printed tickets, an alternative was found. Memorable!
Me First by Madeline Murphy
“Me first!” said Dottie, rising from her wheelchair and teetering towards a line. Marie palmed her forehead, her eyes closed, worried her friend would topple over.
Dottie wandered through the waiting area, searching for an agent.
“Come on!” She waved at her friend. Marie texted.
Sit down. It’s not our plane.
“It is, and I’m first,” Dottie said, back in her wheelchair.
“Ma’am, are you using that wheelchair?” said an agent.
“Am I sitting in it?”
“You’ve been walking around.”
“Excuse me! The plane is loading, and wheelchairs are first.”
“Your plane’s not loading. It’s canceled.”
“Again? Damn airlines!”
Let It Be by Donna Matthews
The counter attendant comes over the loudspeaker with the not at all surprising verdict…our flight is canceled after a three-hour delay. She has more to say but is drowned out by the moans, curses, and general discontent of my fellow travelers. Certainly, I feel the same disappointment but at least we have a course of action.
“At least,” I chuckle to myself – ever the optimist.
“Shit!” my husband exclaims.
I see a familiar dark cloud forming in his eyes, a wave of irritably coming into mine. A fight brewing. I take a deep breath and hum, Let it Be…
The Missed Flight by Reena Saxena
His brother plays the drum in a local band in Virginia, USA.
They grew up in the same house, with similar interests. They applied for admission to foreign universities, and cleared all exams by studying together.
“Would you like to tell us how you reached where you are today?” asks the interviewer.
I missed a flight due to a small error in documentation, and my brother boarded the flight to USA. But on that fateful afternoon, I met a producer at the airport who offered me a small role in his next movie.”
The Balloonatics by Geoff Le Pard
Godfrey Pricktingle held two important positions in Little Tittweaking society: chair of the hot air balloon club, the ‘Balloonatics’; and umpire of the spring betfest, when the village cow, Moose was released after her winter’s incarceration, enabling the residents to bet on where she would defecate first. Each year Godfrey offered to fly the winner around the village as a treat and each declined. Godfrey feared it was the smell that put people off; others worried someone might literally ‘take flight’ to avoid inhaling. In truth, the agglomeration of methane about his person rendered Godfrey a distinct fire hazard.
Surviving a Qantas Crash by Doug Jacquier
It’s 29 October 2011 and never-crashed Qantas has grounded its entire fleet over an industrial dispute. We’ve booked with them to England for the following day, with connections and accommodation all locked in. Panic ensues and my wife and I hit our laptops to try to book with alternative airlines, only to find their sites totally overwhelmed. Miraculously, on the umpteenth try, my wife gets through to Singapore Airlines and books the only two seats left for their flight leaving next day for London. Months later we get a free ‘sorry’ trip to New Zealand. Never flown Qantas since.
Scary Experience by Jane Aguiar
All airline pilots have had extensive training and flying experience so I had my training and flew for the first time in a private aircraft from Delhi to Mumbai.
Delhi was smoggy. Clouds seemed like smog mountains. So I tried to contact airport authorities about my flight and compass but I couldn’t contact them.
As I was in trouble, my brain stopped working. I had lost my way in smog but had a strong desire to meet my husband and family. That’s why I cancelled my flight and flew back to Delhi. It was a horrific and scary experience.
Cancelled by C.E. Ayr
The airport is packed with people desperate to fly south.
The blizzard still prohibits any take-offs.
Outside the streets are gridlocked.
No one is going anywhere.
There is no sign of a break in the weather.
We watch the news anxiously.
Almost everyone has a phone pressed to an ear.
What is happening elsewhere?
I get a call from my son, only fifty miles north of here.
Did you get away yet, he asks.
I can barely hear him above the background chaos.
You’ve got an hour, he says.
These things are indestructible.
We can’t stop th…
Canceled Flight by Rebecca Glaessner
She detected heat, movement. No one’s stupid enough to be that exposed in the snow.
“Hide,” Narra commanded Jae. She nocked an arrow, elbow up, eyes trained, just as Diannao once taught.
Jae had drawn over Diannao’s face one day, but Diannao taught her to focus despite distractions.
The cabin door slammed.
Narra watched in horror as Jae ran by, “no!” She grabbed at him. Missed. Fumbled with the arrow. Dropped it.
“You’ve forgotten to breathe.” Diannao emerged, carrying supplies and Jae.
Narra gawked, “how-” and noticed the scribbles on Diannao’s metal face had persisted, despite everything.
Ms Thunberg Regrets by Anne Goodwin
She’d been an oddball, a lone protester, Donald Trump’s nemesis, the most famous climate-crisis activist in the world. But now? Greta’s grown up, say her former critics. She’s sold out, say her former friends. But no-one imagined she’d accept Jeff’s invitation to board the flying penis. Why not? he says, as they don their spacesuits. She missed out on being a teenager. Let her have fun.
The media show the countdown. They screen the aborted launch. Jeff being unavailable, journalists ask Greta what went wrong. Nothing, she says. I told him I was on my period, exactly as planned.
Ready For Take-Off? by Hugh W. Roberts
“Are you kidding? Why’s the flight cancelled again? We’re all desperate to get out of here.”
“I don’t know, Dave. Something about the pilot having a headache.”
“A headache? That’s no excuse. Doesn’t the pilot know we all got a job to do? Not another 24-hours stuck in this crowded place with you lot.”
“Maybe the flight will take off tomorrow when the pilot is feeling better?”
“I hope so. We’ve all got long journies ahead of us.”
Two days later, Dave’s flight took off. He made it to the egg first. Nine months later, baby David was born.
Ice Up by D. Avery
After a mild lingering fall, winter came on fast. Maybe that’s why the loon stayed too long and had become trapped in a shrinking pool of open water.
After skidding the canoe over the shore ice, she paddled close and threw a blanket. She bundled the anxious bird away to a larger lake that had enough open water left for the loon to run on the surface, wings flapping until it could lift off and take flight.
Blinking, she watched the loon disappear into the gray sky, before returning to her small chilly home. Snow was in the air.
Canceled Flight Canceled by Liz Husebye Hartmann
He peered over the edge, at the green and white rush and pull of salt water. He knew he wasn’t ready, felt he never would be. He was different than the others.
Leaning back in the nest’s twigs and grass, he looked up longingly. The others twirled, glinting in the sky, shards of rainbows and fire. They dove and darted, calling him to join them. They’d flown weeks before; soon they wouldn’t return at all.
His mother landed beside him.
I can’t. I’m not like them.
You are. More than you know. She shoved him, gently, from the nest.
Flight Cancelled by Norah Colvin
Heron balanced on one leg on the bare tree branch above the water. He spread his wings and stretched his neck to face the breeze. He revelled in the freedom of flight even before his feet lifted from their base — the exultation of gliding through the thermals. Superhero Heron — like his namesake — was ready for take-off.
‘Heron! Heron! Get down. This instance.’
‘I am. I’m flying down.’
‘No. You are using the same ladder you used to get up.’
‘You called me Heron, so I can fly.’
‘You will not fly today. This flight is cancelled. You are grounded.’
Canceled Flight by FloridaBorne
When people ask, “How did both your kids turn out so great?”
I reply, “They raised themselves well.”
We moved to different parts of the USA; from Minnesota to 5 other states, and back to Wisconsin for 7 years. Once my kids were 8 and 10, we moved to California.
My daughter was on a flight that arrived late. She immediately found out where the next connection was, and asked to be booked on that flight. There were only two people who immediately rescheduled, and she arrived home on time.
She was 14.
Indeed, she raised herself well.
A Letter of Regret by Sue Spitulnik
To my son and granddaughter I will never get to know. It pains me to admit I have not aged well, so the travel time between our two countries is prohibitive. Though my heart desires to get reacquainted with my long-ago friend and meet my descendants, I fear the current trend of many flight cancelations has made me realize my hope to visit is unrealistic. Instead, may I ask you to send recent photos and letters about yourselves. I have included pictures of the familiar places in my life where I have imagined you sitting or walking with me.
Author’s Note: Thad’s biological mother lives in Vietnam. She hasn’t seen Thad since he was about six months old and has never met her granddaughter, Katie.
Is Death Really an Ending? (Part I) by JulesPaige
Maureen had a legitimate reason to dislike flying. Seeing a newscast of a plane shatter when it hit the ground on the news when young didn’t help. She told her mother, “Just because I’d rather take the train to c’mon down to see you – yes I know that means less time with y’all, it doesn’t mean I don’t love you.”
When her Mom died she had to take a flight. Winter weather delayed it and then canceled it. Maureen took that as a sign to go home. After all, it didn’t matter to the dead body, did it?
Is Death Really an Ending? (Part II) by JulesPaige
Maureen called her siblings. There just wasn’t any way she could make it in time for anything. Mom had been in a retirement community and didn’t have all that much left to distribute or ‘clean up’. The woman had taken care of all the ‘arrangements’ dealing with her death. So Maureen didn’t really feel bad about not showing up.
Maureen called her siblings with regrets. They would have to deal with whatever ‘hands on’ was needed. A final cutting of apron strings, that held little comfort. That canceled flight, that could be a new beginning for Maureen ~ freedom.
Is Death Really an Ending? (Part III) by JulesPaige
That night in her journal Maureen poetically filled the page with questions
that she really didn’t care if they were ever answered;
Why Me, Why Me, Why?
Why is death something to be feared yet celebrated?
Why do siblings flee the nest?
Why then expect those left home to be the responsible ones?
Why be buried in hallowed ground where no one will visit?
Why is there a death tax, haven’t enough been paid in life?
Why be afraid of flying when there are drunk drivers everywhere?
Why should we honor the dead who gave us grief in life…?
Cancelled Flight by Joanne Fisher
Princess Saphielle woke up excitedly. Today she was flying across the Broken Sea to the Kingdom of Strasal on her gold dragon Vanarth. There was a knock on her door. It was her servant, Tialha.
“Your highness Vanarth has dragonpox and cannot fly today.” Tialha informed her.
“What?!” Saphielle exclaimed. She ran to the dragon roost, and sure enough, Vanarth had red spots all over her golden scales.
“You could always fly on Ommyth.” Tialha suggested.
“My life is so terrible!” Saphielle wailed. She wouldn’t look so impressive flying on a silver dragon. The flight would have to wait.
A Relief by Charli Mills
Snow blew in horizontal lines. The gate agent assured the twenty-four passengers the flight would depart. Downstate, Clarice knew small planes as puddle-jumpers but above the Arctic Circle, they were called ice-breakers. She shuddered at unwanted images of airplanes crashing through expansive sea ice. She wrapped her arms around a worn travel bag, willing the screen above the single gate to read, FLIGHT CANCELED. Winds howled outside the Quonset hut. Clarice missed family, her cat, her university friends. Luck had landed her an internship on Baffin Island. Would her luck run out? The screen flickered. Others groaned. Clarice rejoiced.
Marta by Saifun Hassam
Marta, a commercial pilot for the Larue Mountain Range Services, frequently flew supplies and passengers to rural areas.
She was also a paramedic. Today she was on a medical mission flying from her home city of Porterville to the Larue Medical Center at the foothills of the snowcapped mountains. A patient was in a deep coma following seizures.
Dr. Jenny Marse and NP Jerry Walcott flew with Marta. Crosswinds picked up as they landed at Larue Airport. Jenny and Jeremy went immediately to the Medical Center. Marta’s return flight was canceled.
At sunrise, Marta flew the patient to Porterville.
Long Way Home by Quinten Thomas
The Hawkins’s enjoy Berlin. Checkpoint Charlie, the Brandenburg Gate, the TV tower and the Holocaust Memorial.
The final morning, a taxi to the airport. Upon arrival, they discover their airline was on strike. Their flight home struck off. CANCELLED.
Check-in desks are empty. A TV crew accost them for a statement. Mr. Hawkins admits surprise.
Instructions next to a solitary phone. They wait in line and state details on their turn. The anonymous operator applies international rules and sends them to London, not Manchester.
Twelve hours later on home soil. Only three hundred miles to the car.
Transpertashuns by D. Avery
“What’sa matter Kid?”
“Jist once it’d be nice ta git a prompt that’s smooth sailin’. Was hopin’ my ship would come in Pal, but now Shorty’s got us off ta the airport. My storyin’ ideas is grounded.”
“Really? It’s plain ta see yer given ta flights a fancy. Somethin’s sure ta take off.”
“Writin’s hard. I keep losin’ my train a thought.”
“Thinkin’ thet train’s gone roun’ the bend.”
“Jist wing it Kid.”
It was a dark and stormy night…”
“Keep chuggin’ Kid.”
“So flights was cancelled.”
“Yer drivin’ me crazy Kid.”
“Roun’ the bend?”