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Nicole McAuliffe

Isobelle Carmody Award

for Creative Writing


‘Down the corridor, first door to the right and enjoy your flight!’

You nod politely and walk down the long, clean corridor, boarding

the flight to London. Already the Boeing’s hub was packed, bustling

with commuters, a sight that made you uneasy. An odd feeling,

considering your current predicament. People are trying to get their

bags into the overhead lockers whilst avoiding disruption to the

other passengers. You see a kind-faced old woman, who smiles at

you when you walk past, a recently married couple going on their

honeymoon, and finally, sitting across from you, a woman with a

baby asleep in her arms and two children fighting over ownership of

the blanket. They had been fighting non-stop ever since they arrived

at the airport and their mother was completely worn out. She was

recovering from the death of her parents who, only in their fifties,

had died in a sudden car accident. Their lives had been finally getting

back on track.

The plane takes off with little turbulence, but you still hold on to the

sides of the seat as if your life depends on it. How ironic.

‘Good afternoon sir, would you care for a beverage?’

You shake your head; then, on second thought ask for a coffee. It’s

bound to be a long night. You sip quietly on the drink, gently chewing

on the foam edges of the cup. On your right is a man, around thirty,

intent on his mobile, a single businessman. His family consists of

only his pet dog, who lives with him at his home in New York City, a

lonely life.

You’re getting quite uncomfortable now; the strapping is rubbing

against the back of your shoulders. It’s only been a few hours. You

think, ‘It’s just a few more to go. Just a few more hours of this torture

until finally you –


of you –will be free.’ To your left is a woman fast

asleep. After almost thirty years without contact with her parents,

her brothers and sisters, she finally decided to reconcile, after being

diagnosed with lung cancer, with only having months to live. Her

head tilts towards you, towards your shoulder. That’s where the

switch is. Heart-pounding, you move quickly and practically lie on

the businessman to avoid premature catastrophe. He looks at you

weirdly, stunned, but as you gently lift her back into her seat, his face

relaxes. Her eyes flutter a little as she smiles serenely. Nothing eases

suffering like human touch.