We Used To Be Them

We weren’t married and we didn’t have any responsibilities to anyone other than each other.

It was long before the days of 9-11 when you could show up a few minutes before a flight and be assured that you could make it through security in plenty of time.

Back then the flight attendants didn’t pay attention to whether one person at a time was entering or exiting the bathroom. They didn’t care what happened underneath the blanket either.

The back of the plane was where we liked to be. Empty rows and easy access to those bathrooms helped make the time go by.

You were more daring than I was; much more willing to take a chance getting caught doing something others wouldn’t want to see. I’d tell you to stop because they were approaching with the drink cart but that would only make you try harder to make me squirm.

But that was then and this is now.

Now I sit here waiting for them start the boarding process, watching and waiting.

There must be several hundred people here with me but I am alone. I am lost in the moments and memories of people and places.

Stuck with images that always come back to me here.

This is where we said goodbye that day. You put your head on my shoulder and cried. I kissed your tears away and said I love you.

You just nodded.

I promised to come back.

You just nodded.

I hugged you again and buried my face in your neck. I inhaled, closed my eyes and did my best to make your scent a part of my forever memory.

When I opened my eyes you weren’t crying any longer. I thought you were ok. I figured that you had calmed down and that you knew I was coming back.

But you weren’t calm because I was coming back, you were calm because you were already gone.

Sometimes when I sit here I remember the last time we had sex. It wasn’t love making, it was just two people going at it. I should have known it was just part of your goodbye.

I should have known you were doing your duty. You were going through the motions so that I could get on the plane and we wouldn’t fight.

There is a couple standing at the window. They are holding hands and smiling. I can hear them talking and feel the smile in their voices.

When I stand up I can see my reflection in the window. It appears just behind their reflections.

I don’t know what to make of that if anything. We used to be them.

This is part of The Terminal, a prompt for Write on Edge.



Categories: Uncategorized | 13 Comments

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13 thoughts on “We Used To Be Them

  1. I like the heartfelt sorrow of this piece. I can sense the regret and finality of what had happened in an airport terminal long ago. It’s a wonderful poignant piece that I’d love to read again and again.

    • TheJackB

      Thank you. I think airports are a good setting for reflection so the prompt really worked for this.

  2. Wow, I initially thought this was going to be a fun lighthearted memory piece, but it really hits right where it counts. The difference between memory and reality – harsh, but certainly relatable. And the lack of detail (where the narrator is going, why they’re leaving, etc) only adds to the feeling of longing, the sense that the narrator is simply “going through the motions” without taking anything in. This is a great read!

    • TheJackB

      I had intended to make it light and fun but the narrator took it a different direction and since felt like it worked I just ran with it.

      I appreciate your feedback. Thank you.

  3. Really good how you lead the reader and allow them to fill in the blanks of memory. Well done.

  4. The end of this was so poignant, and I like the added visual of him seeing the three of them reflected together. Something that might have made it slightly stronger would have been to “show” us one of their airplane adventures instead of just an account of it, in order to make it a little more visceral. I liked what you did with this, though; memories that come up whether we want them to or not are an interesting thing.

    • TheJackB

      I wanted to do that but I struggled with limited time and the word count. I think you are right that it would have made it stronger.

  5. This is a piece you could feel. I understood that goodbye and the motions and emotions. Yes, flying has changed ;-).

    The ending felt real with the reflection of him with the “happy” couple. Sad. Lonely. Missing

    • TheJackB

      I don’t like flying very much anymore and I used to love it. There was something special about being able to walk to the gate to pick up or drop off the passenger.

      My business trips were easier than too. Used to show up with just enough time to walk onto the plane. I loved that.

      That wistful moment always looks powerful in the movies, was trying to capture it.

  6. The sadness and longing in this piece is palpable. I had a break-up last year and when you wrote “I inhaled, closed my eyes and did my best to make your scent a part of my forever memory,” I had to stop reading. The smell of his neck, the view of his chin and the soft smile on his lips will never leave me.
    Well done.

  7. You captured the emotion perfectly I think. You’re right, there is power in the “movie wistful”, but I actually think you provided more than that. Movies have a musical score to help build drama, and computer generated effects and actors that cry on cue. You only have words, and I don’t think a movie could have done this scene justice.

    i love how you ended it. Those last two lines were brilliant, the kind of lines that I wish I wrote. Well done!

    • TheJackB

      Hi Shelton,

      Sometimes I include links to music in my posts because I wish there was a soundtrack that would play in the background. You are right about how the movies have some very specific resources.

      My goal in these posts is to try to tap into the reader’s imagination. If I can do that properly I think I have a good shot of making something special come from it.

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