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On one of my earliest trips abroad, I happened to strike up a conversation with a fellow backpacker over expressos at some student café in Paris. One topic led to another, and she ended up telling me about a strange decision made by a friend of hers. Now, many years later, the backpacker’s tale came to mind when I was challenged to create a piece of flash fiction about going overseas. I daresay young girls still agonize over the same decision: the who, the when—although in light of the following, not so much the where apparently.

 

            “You did what?”

            “I decided to get it over with. When I go back home I have to start my real life, get a job and stuff. This is my first trip to Europe, and probably my last, so . . . I was tired of worrying about it.”

            For hours the muted hum of the plane’s engine had been the only interruption to the monotony of the transatlantic flight. Not now. My head twisted to glare at Amanda as far as the seat’s head rest allowed.

            “Girl, you wake me up to tell me you just joined the Mile High Club, and that’s one thing, although how you did it in that tiny toilet, I can’t imagine. But then you tell me you were a virgin!”

            “Shh! Keep your voice down.”

            “I thought you and Todd—”

            “Nah. He could be a real dick. Look, I’m sure I’m the only senior to graduate UT a virgin. It’s what comes from obsessing too long about my first time, about making it special, yada yada.”

            My mouth fell open but nothing came out. Amanda was beautiful, as in a Francois Comerre painting beautiful, but she was 50 pounds overweight, so yeah, her dates had been few. Still we’d shared our last year of college together in the same dorm room. I’d always assumed—

            “With who then?” I whisper-hissed, craning my neck to see over the seats. All I could spot were sleeping, faceless forms in the dark.

            She shrugged. “A stranger who said yes. It doesn’t matter. Now I can land in Charles de Gaulle with this stupid obsession done with! Fini!”

            “You cray-cray, girl.”

            “Yeah, but at least I’m not a virgin.” With that Amanda gave a satisfied sigh and closed her eyes to nap at 40,000 feet.

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