It’s Friday and I’m hoping for the best!
Since entering the NYC Midnight Short Story Contest, I’m planning on moving on to the next round. However, there are a variety of possible assigned genres that I’ve NEVER written before and I don’t want the next round to be my first foray into a genre, especially since I’ll only have THREE days to write, edit, and submit.
This is my first take at comedy based on a prompt from my writing group.
Prompt: All the things she said
Rochelle took one last glance around her apartment, bags packed and purse slung over her shoulder.
“Okay,” she breathed, touching each item. “Checked bag, carry on bag, purse.” She opened her purse and pulled out her wallet. “Plane ticket, ID, cash, credit card.”
Rochelle’s phone rang and she dug into her purse to answer. It was Marianne.
“What’s up, Marianne?”
“Rochelle!” Marianne yelled. “Have you left yet?”
“Not yet,” Rochelle said. She absently tucked her wallet into her carry on as her purse slid down her arm. “I’m just doing a final check of all my stuff. I’m trying so hard to be organized and I think it’s finally working for once!”
“Okay, I really need you right now.”
“Like, in person?”
“No, no, on the phone is fine.”
“That I can do. One sec.” Rochelle grunted as she locked her carry on to her rolling suitcase. She pulled it out her door and locked her door, dropping her keys back into her purse, zipping it closed.
“Okay. What’s up?” Rochelle asked.
“Of course. What has he done now?”
Marianne recounted Ray’s latest incompetency as Rochelle rode the elevator down from her fifth floor apartment to the ground floor, giving the appropriate “yeahs” and “I knows” as Marianne talked. She pulled her bags outside and stood on the sidewalk, the clouds low and gray, waiting for her Uber to arrive. Minutes passed.
“Oh no!” Rochelle shouted, Marianne in mid-sentence.
“What?” Marianne asked.
“I never actually booked the Uber! I have to go. I’ll call you right back.”
“Okay,” Marianne said slowly. “But I just need one more second. What should I do?”
Rochelle couldn’t even remember exactly what her friend had been talking about. Looking around at the cars driving by, she struggled to come up with any advice.
“Roch? You there?”
“Yeah, yeah,” she said. “I just, I’m not really sure. He’s just so, um, impossible, you know?”
“Yeah, I totally know!”
“Let me think about it on the way to the airport, okay? I really have to go. I’m going to be late.”
“Okay, call me back right away!”
“Yeah, yeah, I will.” Rochelle hung up and pulled up her Uber app. “No, $98 to the airport? Are you kidding me?” She paced around, waiting for the prices to go down, checking the time every thirty seconds or so. Checking again, the price had only dropped $8, but she should have been on the road 10 minutes ago already. She didn’t have time to wait and so she jabbed the button to book a car. “Four minutes?” Thunder rumbled ominously above.
“Come on, come on,” she whispered, eyeing the darkening clouds above.
Again, she paced, checking the time, breathing, trying to keep an eye out for the red Focus. A red Focus turned on her street and she stepped forward, seeing the Uber sticker, and the car drove right by her.
“No! I’m right here!” she yelled, waving, as the brake lights lit up and the car wove a bit in the lane, turning right at the end of the block. She checked her app and it was the car that should have picked her up. Thunder rolled again and rain started to sprinkle down. Shielding her phone, she watched as the car drove around the block, wasting another four minutes, and Rochelle’s stomach knotted up in anxiety. The sprinkle quickly turned to a drizzle, then an outright downpour. The car came back around and parked.
A man with midnight black skin wearing a white, short-sleeved button down shirt opened the door and climbed out.
“Sorry, sorry,” he said in a thick accent of some kind. Rochelle tried to keep from rolling her eyes and sighing out loud. So far this morning, she’d done so well trying to be organized and get out the door. Then Marianne, now this guy, and of course, she was drenched already. He awkwardly lifted her bags into the trunk as she dove into the backseat, trying to wring some of the water out of her long, black hair on to the rubber mat on the floor. The trunk slammed shut and the driver climbed into the front seat.
“You are going to airport?” he asked, looking at her in the rearview mirror.
“Yeah, that’s where I’m going.” She looked down at her phone and the time again. She was never going to catch her plane.
He checked and rechecked the route before slowly pulling away, wasting even more minutes.
“Your skin is lovely.”
Rochelle glanced up. “Thank you?”
“You have boyfriend?”
Her eyes bulged involuntarily, but she was pretty sure he hadn’t seen it, his eyes focused on the road ahead. Was this seriously happening?
The driver glanced back again in the mirror. “Very lucky man you have.”
“Right,” Rochelle mumbled. Man! Marianne!
Rochelle glanced at the GPS, still 35 minutes to the airport. She called Marianne.
“I thought you’d never call me back!”
“Yeah, sorry.” Rochelle didn’t want to talk bad about this guy in front of him. “So, have you thought about what you want to do?”
“I just don’t know what to do. I mean, how many times can we really have this conversation?” Marianne sighed on the other end of the phone. Rochelle still tried desperately to remember what Marianne had been talking about.
“Okay, how about this? What if it was me? What would you tell me?” Rochelle asked. She’d heard about trying this to make decisions, but had never used it. Rochelle was good at giving advice. She wasn’t good at helping other people figure out their own solutions.
The driver said something in a foreign language and Rochelle looked up. Traffic had slowed to a crawl. Her eyes widened as the line of cars stretched to forever.
“Can’t you take a back road?” Rochelle burst out.
“A back road? In the city?” He turned to look at her, a small mischievous smile tugging at his lips. “Anything for the lovely lady in the back.” He turned back around and wrenched the car onto the shoulder, taking the next exit. The GPS recalculated his route and soon they were at least moving again.
Marianne had talked the entire time and Rochelle realized that, once again, she hadn’t heard anything her friend was saying.
The houses and businesses passed in a district Rochelle had never been to as Marianne carried the entire conversation on her own, Rochelle trying to comment every so often. Within 20 minutes, they merged back onto the freeway, past whatever had slowed traffic, time ticking down dangerously close to her flight. She still had an hour and half, but even that might not be enough time. The rain continued to pour down, getting even heavier if that was possible and the driver was forced to slow down again.
Rochelle’s phone beeped a low battery and she tried to cut into Marianne’s monologue. Unexpectedly, her phone beeped again and died, right in the middle of Marianne’s thought. Rochelle stared at the black screen and tucked the phone into her sweater pocket, staring out the window as they drew closer and closer to the airport. After an agonizing 45 minute ride, they were finally pulling into the outer limits of the airport. Weaving his way through the roads, he found the only available spot as far away from the doors as possible. Rochelle sighed again and tugged on the door handle, but it was locked.
“You have a nice ride? Your friend okay?” The driver was turned around again, his arm slung across the back of his seat.
“Yeah, thank you. She’s fine.”
“Good. Good for a nice lady.” He punched the unlock button and Rochelle jumped at the sharp click. She yanked on the door handle and scrambled out. The trunk was popped and she pushed it open, wrestling her bags out in the still-pouring rain before he could get to the trunk.
“Let me help,” he said.
“I’m fine. Thank you.” With one final tug, the bag came free and she tumbled to the ground, landing hard on her hip. Grimacing and embarrassed, she closed her eyes for a second. A firm hand grasped hers and she opened her eyes to see the driver right in her face.
“Let me help,” he said softly, smiling warmly. He wasn’t flirting with her anymore. She smiled and let him help her.
“Thank you. I have to go. I’ll miss my flight.” Rochelle turned and raced into the terminal, pulling her suitcase behind her. She got to the security line and reached for her purse, only to realize that she didn’t have it on her. Looking around frantically, she tried to see if it had fallen. Already, there were fifteen people in line behind her. She couldn’t afford to lose her spot, but she wouldn’t be able to go anywhere without it.
“Lovely lady,” the now-familiar voice called. Rochelle turned to see the driver holding up her bag. She smiled gratefully and the lady in line behind her coughed, drawing Rochelle’s attention to the fact that people were starting to stare. Her face heated up as he sauntered through the line, people giving way, everyone in the surrounding area now staring at her. She ducked her head, trying to hide her reddened face, embarrassed at all the attention. He stood in front of her, holding out her purse and she grabbed it, tucking it under her arm.
“Thank you,” she mumbled.
“Lovely lady dropped it when she fell. I tried to call after you, but you are very fast.” He winked and she blushed even more, if that was possible. Lightly, he grasped her hand and brushed his lips across it.
“Your man very lucky,” he whispered. With that, he turned and made his way back out of the line, walking toward the exit, never once turning back. Rochelle stared after him.
“Well, what are you waiting for?” The lady in line behind her brought Rochelle back into reality. Looking over, the lady indicated the large gap between Rochelle and the person ahead of her. Blinking, Rochelle realized the lady didn’t mean to go after the Uber driver, but to quit holding up the line. Grabbing her things, she rushed to close the gap. The line trudged along and she tried to find a clock to see the time.
When there were just a few people ahead of her, she dug into her purse for her wallet, but it was gone.
“He took my wallet. He took my wallet!” Rochelle yelled. She turned to get out of the line and tripped over her bags, falling into two other people.
“Who did?” someone asked.
“The driver. The Uber driver! It’s not in my purse!” Now back on her feet, she dug again in her purse, but her wallet was too large to be missed.
“Are you sure it’s not in another bag, dear?” the lady behind her in line asked. “That man was very sweet.”
“Sweet enough to steal,” Rochelle growled under her breath. Under the gaze of the people in line again, Rochelle felt she should check her other bags. She was now first in line, holding it up again. She ripped open the zipper to her carry on, her sparkling wallet sitting on top. Her entire body burning in anger and, for the third time, she felt embarrassed. She grabbed it and zipped the carry on closed, grabbing her bags, wishing she could disappear into the floor and never be seen again.
She unsnapped her wallet, the plane ticket and several receipts sliding out and drifting to the floor.
“This is not happening to me,” Rochelle said, standing there with her eyes closed. “This is not happening.”
“It is, lady,” said a gruff, annoyed voice. “Hurry up.”
A gentle hand tugged on her arm and the lady’s friendly face was there when she opened her eyes.
“It’s okay, dear. We all have days like these.” Handing over the pile of papers, the lady smiled again. Rochelle handed over the ticket and her ID, finally making through security. She pulled her shoes back on and checked to make sure that she’d put her wallet inside her purse. With much less urgency than she should have had, Rochelle wandered to the departure board to find her gate and departure time, the original time of her flight now only 7 minutes away. She had absolutely no chance of making her flight.
As she scanned the board and found her flight, she nearly burst into tears. Her flight was delayed. She still had time! With renewed zest, Rochelle turned and ran, making her way through what felt like miles of terminal. She arrived breathlessly at the gate.
“Wait,” she gasped. “I’m here.”
The ticket attendant smiled at her, holding out her hand for the ticket. “Lucky you, hmm?”
“You have no idea,” Rochelle said, handing over her ticket just to realize that she forgot to check her bag. “I did not do this. I did not.”
“Something wrong?” the ticket agent asked.
“I forgot to check my bag. I was on time this morning and then my friend called with a non-emergency and then I was late to get my Uber and it rained and then traffic was awful and then I was here.” Rochelle started crying and gestured to her bag. “And I forgot to check my bag!” Her tears turned to laughter, which turned into hysterical laughter.
The ticket agent laughed, too. “Not the best day, huh?”
Rochelle just kept laughing, huge tears spilling down her cheeks.
“We can take care of this. Just leave it with all the other baggage in the tunnel and we’ll get it moved. The plane is full anyway. No room for any more carry ons, anyway.” The agent slipped a special tag on the bags and Rochelle made her way onto the plane, finally slipping into the last available seat on the plane. She buckled her belt, leaned back, and closed her eyes, breathing deeply.
“Hello, folks, this is your captain speaking. I’m afraid I have some bad news. This plane has an issue that we can’t resolve and we’re going to have to deplane.” Rochelle’s eyes snapped open.
“We should have another plane here in an hour or so, so if everyone could file out in an organized manner, we’ll get you to where you need to go. Thanks for understanding.” The captain signed off and the flight attendants moved through the aisles to organize the deplaning.
“You have GOT to be kidding me.”
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