American Thanksgiving is now nearly upon us. Along with the food and the parades and the football comes all the joy and horror that family gatherings entail.
Prompt: Write a story that takes place on Thanksgiving Day, but please EXCLUDE the following words: Turkey, stuffing, football, parade, family.
Word Limit: 1,000 words
I managed to get one out this week. My computer is still on the fritz so I’m using my prospective mother-in-laws. I’ve managed to do some good work.
This week’s prompt is one of the hardest I’ve encountered at FlashFictionFriday. I think I’ve pulled it off rather well. Remember that this is a work of fiction. It’s not about my actual life but a life I dream of.
Lonely Stranger (650 words)
There are some things you never get used to when you travel for a living. One of the most annoying is the question: do they have the Fourth of July in other countries?
Of course not, I tell them. They go from the third right to the fifth. There are only 365 days in the year in America. Other countries only get that on leap year.
The sad part is that most people give me a blank look and don’t get the joke.
I’ve been all over. Afghanistan, Iraq, Russia, South Korea, Norway, Brazil. Wherever there’s a good story brewing or trouble cooking they send me. Not because I’m the best at what I do but because I’m willing. I’m always looking for travel. I love it even if it does get lonely sometimes.
I’ve worked for the Associate Press for about eight years. In that time the job has been my life. My articles have been my children and flight attendants have been my wives. They’ve always cooked for me and brought me beer, anyway.
Sometimes I envy my colleagues that have settled down. There are quite a few of them in New York, Washington and scattered across the Middle East and Europe. It’s funny how we don’t have many in Africa, China or South America. I guess if people don’t look like us or want to blow us up they’re not newsworthy.
But those aren’t my decisions to make. I make the decisions about what is most newsworthy about a missile flying out of Gaza and heading for Tel Aviv. I worry about how to make that situation like that sound equally exciting to a fat redneck with no college education in southern Ohio, a cattleman in rural Texas, a mechanical engineer in Eugene, Oregon and an English teacher in Orono, Maine. Because they all see my work. Even if they don’t know my name, they know me.
I’m the eyes and ears of the American people. I come over here and sit in this tiny cafe eating matza balls on Thanksgiving so everyone else can be at home with their loved ones but still know what’s going on over here. I let them know what they need to know.
Sure, sometimes I wish I’d led a different life. I wish I could see my mother more. I wish I could hear my native tongue more. I wish I could sit around on a holiday and watch the game with my dad and brother. But this is the life I’ve chosen and it suits me well.
So I wander here and there. Stopping only long enough to write a few paragraphs. Sometimes longer. My book is due out in July. You should read it.
I can speak three languages fluently and a scatter of a dozen others. I can order a Big Mac in Arabic, but I often use a translator.
You don’t know me. You wouldn’t recognize me on the street or on your television. But you trust me with something more important than your life.
You trust me with your information.
Yet there are no celebrations for my homecomings and I won’t get a flag draped over my returning coffin if one of Hamas’ missiles hits home. The best I can hope for is an actual byline instead of just a dateline saying BEIRUT or GAZA STRIP. Hopefully I’ll make it home for Christmas. If not I’ll be happy to be celebrating Hanukah. I try to be thankful. After all this is the life I’ve chosen.
I love it and it loves me.
So I’ll see you soon. You may even find me today if you’re paper runs on holidays. I’ll be on the nation/world page. Between the car ads and senior living section.
I’m the one risking my neck so you know what goes on outside your door. And I’m thankful for that.