Escaping to Another Place

Submitted into Contest #208 in response to: Write a story about someone living vicariously through someone else.... view prompt

1 comment

Contemporary Fiction

If you had asked fourteen year old Hannah where she thought she’d be at twenty-five years old, you likely would have received a number of answers; each more idyllic than the last. 

Of all the possible futures she had thought up for herself, she never would’ve imagined working an office job as her eventual destination.

Her parents had always said what a bright imagination she had growing up. Now she couldn’t help but wonder if bright was another substitution for unrealistic. 

A drone of corporate America, slaving away for a half-decent wage just to afford rent and her monthly student loan payment wasn’t exactly the thing of childhood fantasies. But it was her reality, and she wasn’t alone in that fact.

But…it wasn’t all bad. For example, being stuck at a desk for hours at a time as she typed away on a computer allowed her to participate in her favorite pastime activity. 

Everyday, Hannah would prop up her phone right above her keyboard and open up her favorite streaming app. Or, in cases when the stream wasn’t live she would resort to youtube videos. It was there that she found the thing that made her work, and to a greater extent, her life, a little bit more bearable. 

She had her favorites, of course. Channels she would visit regularly and talk in the live chat. She had even made a few friends that she kept in contact with over the internet that way. They seemed to bond over their shared love for travel and their equally shared inability to pursue that dream.

When she watched the live streams or videos it didn’t feel like she was a drone. For a period of time, whether it was one hour, two hours, or more; she was transported to somewhere else in the world. Sometimes it was traveling the streets of Shibuya at night. Other times it was riding along the canals in Amsterdam. Or navigating the historical ruins in Rome. Heck, even the livestreams of individuals walking around in Disneyland or Walt Disney World were some of her favorites to get lost in. Each stream made it feel like she was experiencing another city and culture without ever having been there herself.

There were times at family gatherings when a cousin or uncle would mention their travel plans only for Hannah to spout off a series of must know facts or suggestions on sights to see. Her family members would look at her bewildered or, in the rare case, ask if she had ever been there. Her answer to both of those reactions was usually an embarrassed red-tinge that colored her cheeks as she tried to explain how she knew these things without seeming strange. 

It was hard to explain the emotion that simply watching these videos brought. The content sensation that visiting these destinations, even if it was through a screen, gave her.

The reality was, she likely wouldn’t ever travel to some of these locations. At least, not until she was older and her debt was paid off. Maybe if she was lucky she’d make it to some level of middle management. In essence she had traded her childhood dreams for a hope that maybe she’d get to backpack in retirement. 

But…in a way, she felt like she had been to those places.

When she daydreamed at work and let her mind wander she could see herself walking the streets of the various cities. Encountering strangers as if it was herself talking to them. It was more than just a dream, it was a reality she had witnessed on screen. It was a bit sad, she supposed, but there were days where that escapism was the only thing to get her through her shift.

In the end she would always have to come back to reality. To answer an e-mail or hear the reprimand of her boss. Or worse, attend a meeting talking about improving company profit margins. 

She really hated those.

With a sigh, Hannah glanced at her phone.

Her go-to stream was currently playing, her wireless earbuds tucked neatly beneath her straightened auburn hair. Today’s destination was one of her favorites and also one she felt like she had the least likelihood of visiting: Tokyo, Japan. 

Between the cost of travel, double digit flight hours, and language barrier; she always felt a bit of intimidation at the prospect. However, when she watched streams like the one she currently was, it made her feel like all of those were mere minor obstacles that anyone could get over. Thoughts like that really made her feel like she was a romantic at heart no matter how much her job tried to suck her soul and every creative cell out of her body with it. 

She snorted to herself and briefly looked around to see if anyone had noticed.

Satisfied everyone else was still lost in their own misery, she went back to watching the stream.

“Gosh, I wish that was me right now,” she muttered.

They had entered a restaurant and were currently being served fresh ramen with chashu pork, a boiled egg, fresh mushrooms, and beansprouts. Despite being viewed through a screen it was like she could smell the meal in front of her; so much so that her stomach gave a light rumble.

Oh, to be able to travel and eat the various cuisines of the world. 

Sometimes, she wondered if the man holding the camera knew the effect he had on people like herself. She was personally too self-aware to ever send a thoughtful message about the matter. Though, she had considered it on a few occasions. In the end, she was content simply being a passenger along for the ride. To get to experience sights and sounds she would otherwise never get to see for herself. 

With a hint of a smile Hannah picked up her phone, quietly typing in a message into the chat.

 “That looks delicious!

For now, this was enough to get her through her day.

July 24, 2023 22:39

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1 comment

Theo Benson
14:06 Aug 01, 2023

I like this story! It’s very relatable :)


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