Good afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen, I hope you`re feeling fine today. This is the pre-boarding announcement for flight 73E. We are inviting everyone to fasten their seat belts and secure all baggage as we expect to take off in 20 minutes.
10 minutes later, the blind man who did not speak was still trying to find his seat belt. He was searching with his hands, hoping to feel the flip-flop buckle somewhere around his seat when he suddenly felt a strong slap on his face, followed by a hysterical scream.
-Security I need security, someone please come immediately! I am being harassed by this man, sitting next to me! How dare you dirty old man, put your filthy hands away from me! I can`t believe it, this is why I didn`t want to be in the economy class in the first place! Everyone is so close to each other that they can get use of your body anytime they want to… but you`ve picked the wrong lady old man, you`ve picked the wrong lady to mess with!
-I am here madam I am so sorry for this inconvenience, let me rearrange your seat right of this moment. We have all kinds of safety measures taken care of, but unfortunately we cannot predict the unacceptable behavior of that man. We sincerely do apologize and therefore, will compensate for this traumatic incident by offering you free subscription to Fame Magazine every time you are using our airlines.
-I`m a daily reader of Fame Magazine, don`t get me wrong, but you don`t understand what this man just did to me miss, miss..?
-Dolores, chief of cabin crew since 1986 madam.
-Okay Dolores, you`re a woman like me, so I hope you could understand. I`ve recently had my heart broken by the man I loved for three years. Three years of premium subscription to his social media accounts, to his friends, to his mom, to his neighbors… I loved Johny and I did everything I could to build his name and life- together, as a family. Till yesterday when he dumped me…for another woman.
-I had to plug in all the courage I had left in me Dolores, to get on this plane and what do I receive in return? Another filthy man, putting his hands on my lap! I`m devastated Dolores, neither angry nor sad, devastated… when I`m devastated I cannot even read Fame Magazine!
-I understand the extreme circumstances you`re facing madam and I assure you that I felt every word you said. Your story truly touched me, even I don`t know, in a strange way inspired me to be a stronger woman who supports other women in need. I know just the perfect seat for you!
-You do? You`re moving me to business class without overpayment?
-The plane is full madam I`m afraid, but I will place you to someone very special, who I`ve tried keeping in secret since I don`t want any chaos on my flight. I will place you to Travis Dull, the modern sensation and most successful influencer “30 under 30 “. As you know he often gets published in Fame for his inspiring daily quotes and honest life hacks.
-Oh my god, I will meet Travis Dull? Okay, this is much better Dolores, I`m glad you understood me and related to my situation. This will definitely alleviate my psychological discomfort. I wonder if I could do a life stream with him afterwards… That will make my life complete and I`ll prove to Johny that he`s dumped me for the wrong woman who`s not even popular!
-Just follow me this way madam and let`s keep this “compensation package” between us please, so we can avoid jealousy and unnecessary rumor okay?
-Yes yes, of course. Not everybody gets the privilege to travel next to Travis Dull, obviously. I feel much better now. I could even give you extra point rates for supreme customer service in emergency cases.
20 minutes later, flight 73E was already in the air and Dolores has returned to her crew with the proud smile of victory. Not only did she handle the situation professionally, but she also took care of her reputation.
As for the blind man, he managed to get his belt seated by the boy who was watching the whole scene from behind. Ever since he helped him, they`ve been sitting in silence, till the first turbulence appeared and made both of them uncomfortable.
-Sir, can you clap once if you feel better and twice if you need something else?
-I could play you the whole anthem if you want boy, but I think we`ve made enough noise around us already.
-You could speak? I thought you were either a foreigner or numb, that woman said so many bad things about you, why didn`t you say something back, why didn`t you tell her that you`re blind and could search only through your hands?
-What`s your name boy?
-Spark sir, I`m 9 years old and that`s the first flight I`m taking on my own.
- Nice name you have Spark, my name is Silver and I`m 73. I didn`t speak up back there because neither of them would have listened to me or as a matter of fact seen me.
- How come? You`re the blind one and they are the ones who see!
-That`s right boy, but here`s the thing. Sometimes, you watch but you don`t see and you hear but you don`t listen. I don`t have eyes to watch with, but I`m able to see through people. I listen to their minds, to the way their voice flows and their heart pounds when they talk about the things they love. I listen to the way they speak when they`re hurt and the way they speak when they`re happy. I listen to their melody and follow that into their hearts.
This is how I learnt to see.
-Why do you think then, they were unable to see what I saw sir?
-Because I listened to their voices, but I didn`t see anything in their hearts. Nothing. Everything they screamed and said was disillusioned by their own misery.
By now the turbulence have stopped and the plane was flying horizontally. A slightly different conversation was happening a few rows further.
-Mr. Travis Dull! What an Honor to meet you! You look even better than your pictures in Fame. I must say that I`ve read every article published about you there and your daily quotes are truly influencing me!
- Are you a journalist?
-No, you think I sound like a journalist? I had excellent marks in university, I guess they`re speaking for themselves now…
-Do you work for the Yellow Press?
-No, Mr. Travis Dull! I`m a big fan of yours. Can we make a picture together, please?
-No pictures no. I don`t need more paparazzi around me, if anyone finds out where I fly, I`m done with my career. “Travis Dull, travelling with public airlines in the economy class on his way to his motivational speech on how to be successful”. Even the thought of this headline makes me sick.
-But, Mr. Dull, didn`t you say that we must accept everyone equally, live in the present moment and share our happiness with others? I would share a picture with you right now, which would bring me lots of happiness!
-Listen madam, I`ve heard you over there a while ago, making a whole bunch of mess screaming for some nonsense about a man. I`m trying to keep it low here, so it would be better if you don`t speak to me at all just pretend you don`t know me.
- I don`t understand Mr. Dull, I`ve read everything about you, I follow your daily life hacks and quotes, what are you trying to tell me?
-You want money? I guess I could give you money, how much do you want?
Suddenly the old hysteric scream appeared once again.
-All men are disappointment, I need security again, someone please come immediately! I need to get off this seat, help!
The passengers were already acquainted with that voice and this time, they responded quickly. A bunch of people came in to the rescue leaded by Dolores. They`ve gathered around them asking if this man also harassed her, when a third voice made its appearance.
–“Is this Travis Dull? Travis Dull is harassing the woman!”
For a moment the plane looked like a mini storm inside filled with flashes of cameras and screams from various sides and seat rows. Spark and Silver were sitting on their places quietly listening to this strange mixture of melodies.
-You know sir, I think I now begin to understand you. I`m listening to them and I think I can see through them quite clearly.
- What do you see boy, tell me what do you see?
- I can`t see anything in their hearts. Nothing. Everything they scream and say is disillusioned by their own misery.
Please, read this:
This was Margarita Toneva’s graduation short story, published here exactly as submitted.