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8th February
posted by amber

Really Boring Radio

I’m too polite, she thought to herself, during the first hour of the long flight. I should have told him that I wanted to sleep.

But as the man in the next seat droned on and on, she found that she did sleep and, for all she knew, she continued to say ‘Mm-hmm’ and ‘Oh’ from time to time while she dozed, just as she had while still awake.

She was very tired, yet for the past month she’d had difficulty sleeping. Nothing had helped besides listening to the radio and allowing her thoughts and worries to be subsumed by two a.m. discussion topics from around the world. Yet too often the bad news – political, ecological, humanitarian – would rouse her to ire and insomnia.

No such danger with her seat mate. He was like really boring radio. In the middle of telling her all about his business trip to set up a new accounting system for a Danish company, he heard someone in the seat behind them say they were from Buffalo and he took off on a new tangent. “Speaking of Buffalo, reminds me of bison. I’ve never tasted it, but I was in Thailand last year and I ate Water Buffalo, that can’t be too different. But all the meat over there is different, they don’t have butchers like we do, it all comes out looking like it was ripped apart by wolves. And speaking of meat , reminds me – in Mexico, they’ll kill a bull and hang it just a couple of hours, they they’ll cut it up and it tastes just terrible. A man told me it’s the adrenalin. He was an interesting guy, he and his wife. They were travelling to Chiapas to work with Habitat for Humanity. I’ve always meant to do something like that. He was a tall fellow. Very tall. Poor guy, how he suffered on the airplane. Don’t you find the seat space just shrinks and shrinks?”

“Mm-hmm,” she said, half-way asleep again and responding automatically to the rising inflection of his question and the short pause before he began a brief diatribe about the trials of air travel followed by some bragging about the good gas mileage of his new car which led to the banal tale of the first car he ever bought.

She slept the entire six hours and then bid him a fond farewell, grateful for the rest he’d unwittingly provided. If he’d been a better conversationalist – asking her questions or at least leaving some silences she might have felt compelled to fill – he might have gleaned another second-hand anecdote for his repertoire.

She could imagine it.

“Speaking of plane trips. I once sat next to a woman who was on her way to Oslo to get a Nobel Prize – I think it was for some medical discovery to do with cancer. Yet, it might have been that gene-splicing that cures breast cancer. And poor woman, she was so tired because she’d been working night and day on a new project to do with leukemia. Yes, you’re right, it probably was Nadia Stokowski who cured breast cancer and leukemia. I’m so bad with names. Why, once I forgot my own mother-in-law’s name when I was introducing her to my boss at a staff picnic. Speaking of picnics, reminds me of…”

The Story 365 project is a year-long marathon of short story writing, with a new story for every day of the year and posted on this website from May 1, 2011 – April 30, 2012. Stories must be a minimum of 200 words. Please help me by adding first line or topic suggestions in the Comment section of any story. If you’d like me to use your name in a story, I’d be happy to do that.

1 Comment

  1. Perry

    🙂 Did this by chance come from a very boring seatmate on the train?

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