The red-eye flight

Submitted into Contest #164 in response to: Write a story in which someone returns to their hometown.... view prompt

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Contemporary East Asian Sad

The dim light did not make it easier for Giang to sleep but only cause her to sink into a vague fear. Among sleeping strangers around, Giang felt loneliness filling her heart. She felt cold, which was not resulted from the air-conditioner but her sorrow. She recalled her previous flight a month before. It was the reverse flight. She was so happy at that moment when she was in the flight returning to her hometown after two years studying abroad. Eagerness and plans danced in her minds. She imagined her parents would cry from happiness when their beloved daughter returned. She imagined she would take part in boisterous parties full of joy with her old friends. She imagined about beautiful mornings when she would swim in the cool water of the pool with her close friend, and many other plans. But above all was her intense nostalgia. Her beloved hometown stick with her like a part of her body. She missed the road from home to school. She missed the Youth road next to West Lake sparkled with gentle breezes and sunshines. She missed the benevolent-faced woman who sold sticky rice at the entrance of the market. She missed the scrap dealer with her unsteady gait and her echoed voice. She missed the man who sold soybean pudding whose bright smile usually appeared on his grey face. She missed all those nameless things and all those anonymous people, whose appearance she had never paid attention to before. Oh Hanoi! Even though it was not as modern and civillized as American cities she had visited, the capital of Vietnam had its own beauty that no one could compare. When putting her feet on Noi Bai airport, Giang were so emotional. Two years is just a blink of an eye in comparison to a lifetime. Yet two years in a faraway land, two years getting used to living on her own, suffering a lot of shames and strenuousness, is long enough for a young lady to long for old things, old friends and old memories. It was the moment coming back to her homeland again that gave her a lot of emotions. After finishing immigrant procedures and taking luggage, Giang eagerly walked to the airport terminal. It did not take her a minute to find her two most beloved people waiting for her. They shouted her name and waved their hands at the other side. Then her parents embraced her. There were no tears but their care warmed her heart.

The long flight caused Giang tired, adding to the timezone difference, resulted in her two days lying at home. She thought after that she could start her amazing plans. The reality, however, was totally different from her imagination. She supposed that

she would hang out with a lot of friends, but there were always just a few appeared, and whenever calling them she had to hear the question “Who will come?” that drove her mad. It seemed that nobody cared for her. Hanging out with Giang seemed not to be a joy but a responsibility. “Have they forgotten me after only two years I went abroad?” she thought to herself. That question hung in her mind. Even the swimming plan in order to have a beautiful body was failed. Giang called for Mai, her close friend, to ask her to go swimming together but Mai was so busy with her part-time job that she could not join. Then, Giang invited Kim but Kim was stuck with her volunteer works of students’ association of her university. Giang resigned herself to going swimming alone but got bored after

a few times. As a result, except a few occasions going out, going to the cinema, and shopping, Giang only lay at home watching television and surfed internet. Witnessing the daughter doing nothing all day, her mother asked her to do housework. She started to be depressed. While her friends were busy with their personal plans and their new friends, she felt her days passing wastefully. Therefore, she changed her flight tickets to return to the United

States earlier. Her father blamed her for leaving so soon but she did not say anything. She did not want to argue or explain anymore. It was just two years but too many things had changed. Hanoi today was so much different from Hanoi two years before. She did not belong here anymore. Her life now was in Boston, the city of light, a beautiful city which was a combination of modern buildings and old houses since New England era. Yet she had never felt that she belonged to that city either. Sometimes walking on old streets of Boston, she felt those beautiful houses so strange and she missed Hanoi old streets with such small and humble houses. Sometimes casting a glance at white sails on the Charles river, she missed the duck paddle boats on West Lake. She recalled the day she sat in one

of those duck paddle boat with a boy whom she was secretly in love with. He told her a lot of funny stories that she laughed a lot. In Boston, although she met a lot of decent people, she always felt the appearance of an invisible wall separating them from her. Sometimes, she caught a strange look or a sensitive joke. Sometimes, she found herself a little girl from a poor country in others’ eyes. Sometimes seeing a Vietnamese here, she did not say hello because she was afraid that he followed the yellow flag with three stripes. There were many other things, vague but hurt her so much. She lived in Boston but always bore in mind the feeling that she was a stranger in this city.

In her flight back to Boston, tears rolled on her cheek. She cried for herself. Where did she belong? Hanoi, Boston, or nowhere? In this moment, she was on the deep sky between two cities. The airplane silently threw himself to the dark night, carrying the heavy heart of the young girl.

September 18, 2022 16:12

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2 comments

07:50 Sep 26, 2022

Love that last line immensely. Great job capturing that suspended, mid-air feeling of a girl caught in between.

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Dao Huy Kien
01:53 Sep 27, 2022

Thank you very much for your thoughtful comment. Glad you enjoyed it.

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