Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2086014-Cot-Talk
Rated: ASR · Short Story · Contest Entry · #2086014
Cramp Winner: A simple dialogue between a mother and her son in an airport.
“Mom, what is this?”

“It’s a cot?”

“It sucks.”

“William Darcey! What did I say about that word?”

“… Not to say it.”

“That’s right. But you’re also right about the cots.”

“What’s taking them so long? Why can’t we go home?”

“Because, Billy Boy, we need to get on a plane to get home. We’re far away from Savannah.”

“It’s, like, this close on the map.”

“Adorable, but I know you know how far Montana is from Georgia.”

“But you said we’re going to Denver first.”

“We are. Denver. Then Atlanta. Then Savannah proper. Then our town.”

“That’s a lot of stops.”

“It is, but that’s flying.”

“But we’re not flying.”

“Not now, no. But we will be. The airline doesn’t think we’ll be doing it any time soon, though, so they gave us these cots to sleep on.”

“They gave us these? To keep?”

“Don’t be silly. We can’t keep these. And who would want to? They’re hideous.”

“I like the color.”

“Well, your’s is a nice, solid green. Mine has this… darker green. Right in the middle. Very questionable. I wonder… Maybe they’ll give me an extra blanket? To put over it?”

“You tell me it never hurts to ask.”

“And it doesn’t.”

“Can we go home?”

“And you’re asking because?”

“It doesn’t hurt.”

“No, but it does annoy. And you know we’re stuck here for now. Maybe if you lay down and close your eyes, you’ll realize how tired your are and fall right to sleep. Then it’ll be time to wake up and get on the plane before you know it.”


“No, I’m not lying. You—”

“No. Mr. Finkle says you can’t ‘lay down’. You ‘lie down’. But he never says why. He just, I don’t know. Smiles, or something.”

“Well, I guess he’s right, but it doesn’t really matter at midnight.”

“It’s almost 2:00 back home.”

“Oh, is it? I thought my phone… said…”

“Time zones, Mom.”

“Oh, yeah. I don’t know why that’s so hard for me! Anyways, time to sleep. They said we might be able to board around 4:00 or 5:00.”

“That’s a big difference, here.”

“Yeah, it is.”

“Why’s this take so long?”

“I don’t think they have enough people working here. The TSA’s: they’re low.”

“Like, sad?”

“Well, I did hear that it’s a very demoralizing field of work. But, no. There aren’t enough of them. It takes longer to get people on a plane, now.”

“Did it back when you were my age.”

“I couldn’t say. I didn’t get onto a plane until I was twenty-two. And it was scary as hell.”


“No, I think hell is appropriate. It was just after… well…”


“Well, about. About a year after. But it was nerve racking. I almost forfeited my ticket. Grandpa paid for it, though, and said I couldn’t.”

“Why not?”

“They were nonrefundable. He got them on discount.”

“Oh. He was cheap back then, too?”

“Retired people aren’t cheap. They live on fixed incomes, Billy Boy.”

“He was retired?”

“No. He was just… cheap. Back then. Now: fixed income. Then: cheap. I threw up on the plane.”

“Oh, whoa! In your seat?”

“No, in the lavatory, of course! Ladies don’t do that, son.”

“So the TSA’s have sucky jobs, and there’s not enough of them, and that’s why we have to sleep here for a few hours?”

“Don’t use that word, but that’s the gist. I think.”

“You don’t seem too sure, Mom.”

“Well, I’m sure it’s more complicated. It’s their job to make sure we’re all safe up in the air. And the only way they can do that is to check everybody’s things when they go on the plane. And they check the plane itself, and our luggage that’s stored below. They check all that stuff just so we can sit in the plane and… and be safe.”

“Do you feel safe.”



“Not really, no.”


“I just… I keep thinking about that day, Billy Boy.”


“God, that’s such a weird way to put it. It’s not like a holiday or anything, but you just blurt out with the date. ‘9/11’. Like it’s nothing.”

“I know it’s not nothing. We learned about it. In school.”

“I know Mr. Finkel probably teaches a lot to you guys in the fifth grade, but it was just such… It was hard.”

“Well that’s what the TSA’s are here to stop this time, right, Mom? To stop another 9/11?”

“I’m not sure there’ll ever be another day like it, but, yes, they’re hired to stop it.”

“Maybe there should be more? If there were more, they cold go faster and they might not be sad about their jobs and do it better. Since more people were doing it.”

“You’re probably right. But they’d need money. More people doing a job means more money to draw from.”

“Draw from?”

“To share.”

“Where does it come from?”

“Right here, Billy Boy.”

“That’s your People.”

“Oh. Thought it was my ticket. Right here. Parts of the ticket price go to pay the TSA’s.”

“Didn’t you say you got that at the cheapest rate possible?”

“I… did.”

“Like Grandpa.”

“Yeah. Just like him. Go figure. Billy Boy, I think it’s time to sleep.”

“Me too. I’m exhaustive!”

“Ha! You can be!”


“I think you meant to say you’re ‘exhausted’.”

“What’d I say?”

“Exhaustive. But that’s okay. G’night, Billy Boy. Love you.”

“Love you, too, Mom.”

Word Count: 909
© Copyright 2016 Than Pence (zhencoff at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
Writing.Com, its affiliates and syndicates have been granted non-exclusive rights to display this work.
Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2086014-Cot-Talk