Flying Solo

Chris = MC, 19 year-old, attending college, and works for Jack
Debbie = 18 year-old daughter of Jack, and Chris’s “girlfriend”
Jack = father of Debbie and Will, and Chris’s boss at the airport
Will = 5 year-old son of Jack, and Debbie’s kid-brother
FLYING SOLO is a story about Chris’s spiritual journey.
“Chris!” Debbie shouted into the phone.

“Debbie. What’s going on?”

“Chris, can you come over right away? Mom and Dad went to a movie and I’m at home with Will . . . except he’s gone!” He heard her gasp, and then expel the air as if in pain. He tried to picture what was going on.

“What do you mean, he’s gone?”

“He was in the family room watching one of the animated movies he likes, and when I checked on him, he wasn’t there! I don’t know where he could be. I’m scared Chris—can you come and help me? PLEASE come help me!” She was sobbing now.

“I’ll be right there. Have you called the police yet?”

“No. All they’ll do is ask a bunch of questions and then tell me they can’t do anything until he’s been missing for a long time. Please, PLEASE, just come and help me!”

“I’ll be right there!” He was thankful again Jeff had fixed his car for him. God, thank you for sending Jeff to help me.

He was driving considerably over the speed limit, but he needed to get there as fast as he could to help Debbie. He kept his eyes moving, looking for any cops.

“Debbie,” he hollered through the open front door, “are you in there?” He could hear her crying. He entered and found her in the family room, standing in the middle of the room. Her hair and fear covered her face.

“Debbie . . .” He put his arm around her shoulder, pulling her to him. She leaned into him, crying all the more. What was he supposed to do now?

He stepped back, brushing the hair away from her face. “Debbie, let’s sit on the sofa. Can I get you something to drink?”

“Water. I . . . I . . .” Her body shook.

He soon returned with two bottles of water.

“Here.” Handing her a bottle, he sat beside her, placing his hand on her arm.
“Okay, let’s start at the beginning. Exactly what has happened?” He rubbed her arm, trying to sooth her.

“After we ate lunch, Mom and Dad decided to go to the new movie. They asked if I would be at home to watch Will, and of course I said yes. I was staying here to study for tomorrow’s exam anyway. After Mom and Dad left, I helped Will choose a couple of videos. Once the choices are made, he likes to take care of the rest of it himself . . . he likes running things like the Blu-ray player. I got started on my studies, and every half-hour or so, I checked on him.” She was relaxing a bit, but still Chris could tell it was far from over.

“Okay. So when did you notice he wasn’t here?” Chris tried to remain calm and not allow his emotions show. He put his arm around her shoulders.

“About thirty or forty minutes ago. I got myself something to drink and stuck my head in the family room, and he wasn’t here.” Her tears started again. “I looked all over the house and around the outside, but he’s just not here.” Her lips and chin quivered as she leaned toward Chris, using a tissue to wipe her tears.

“Why don’t I go outside and look around. Maybe walk around the block too, just to see if there’s any chance he just wandered a bit and found a friend to play with. And in the meantime, you go through the house again—be sure to look in all of the closets, under beds and so forth. Okay?”

“Yes. But I’ve already done it.” Another sob shook her body.

He gave Debbie a reassuring hug, rubbing her back, and then headed out.

Ten minutes later he returned. “Did you see anything in the house?”

“No. Did you outdoors?”

“No. But I did talk to a guy who said he saw a kid riding a small bike in the direction I came from, which, of course, would be toward the airport–”

“Oh NO!” It was forced through her lips more like a wail. “Will has a real fascination with airplanes. It probably is because Dad’s whole life is wrapped up in airplanes, and so Will likes being around ‘em too. He loves to fly in our plane.” She clutched herself, rubbing her arms.

Chris put his arm around her shoulders. “So you think he might have headed out to the airport?”

“Yeah, I do!”

“But would he know how to get there?

“Yes! He would know how to get there! He’s very bright, remembering things right down to the smallest detail.”

“Okay. So if it’s ten minutes by car, it’d take forty, forty-five minutes or so to ride his small bike there. So, if he headed there and it’s now been over an hour since you last saw him, he could be at the airport by now . . . assuming he went directly there. C’mon, let’s go find him,” Chris said in an upbeat tone.

They jumped into his car and drove in the direction of the airport. On the way, they took a detour through some neighborhoods, just to see if they would find Will. Maybe he had found a friend to play with–but no such luck.

Approaching the airport, they saw a sea of red and blue flashing lights. Chris’s heartbeat drummed in his ears. He could only imagine what was happening to Debbie at seeing all of the commotion. He glanced in Debbie’s direction and saw she was very pale and crying. He touched her hand, trying to soothe her.

They were stopped by a cop as they turned into the airport entrance. “There’s an emergency up ahead and I can’t let you go any closer,” the cop said. Just then another cop, a sergeant, came along. He glanced in the car and saw Debbie.

“Aren’t you Jack Harold’s daughter?”

“Yes. Why? What’s happened?” Her voice caught on the words.

“Ms. Harold, I need to ask, don’t you have a younger brother about five or six?”

“Yes, I do. Why? What’s wrong with him? What’s happened?” Debbie and Chris got out of the car. He went to her and she took hold of his hand as more tears flowed. He handed her his handkerchief.

“And can you tell me if that is his bicycle leaning against my car?” the sergeant asked.

Tears welled in her eyes as she said in a low voice, “Yes, it is.”

“I—I have some really bad news, Ms. Harold. Your younger brother was struck by a revolving propeller. The air ambulance just landed and will be taking him to the regional hospital. I’m sorry to have to give you this information—”

Debbie gasped, and then a loud wail came rushing from her. Chris tried to console her, but she was too distraught to allow him be close to her. The sergeant asked her where her parents were.

“They went to a movie this afternoon,” she said with tears streaming down her cheeks, “and I—I haven’t been able to reach them.”

“Do you have a phone number for either your mother or your father? A cell phone number?”

14 thoughts on “Flying Solo

  1. Cat says:

    This a good standalone scene (in that I didn’t struggle to understand any if it and there was no unreferenced detaiks that interrupted my reading) – it reads pretty well but there are a couple of things that struck me as I read it. I did wonder why Chris didn’t seem as concerned about Will being missing as Debbie was, especially given her state. He drives to her house but only looks out for the cops, rather than her little brother. There is a lot of dialogue between Chris and Debbie, but I wasn’t convinced she would sit down and drink water so easily – perhaps a mention of how tense she is by having her jiggle her legs, or pace about or peel the label from the bottle – small signs of distress rather than just the words she says.

    You mention Chris staying calm and not letting his emotion show, but I found it quite difficult to understand if Chris cared about Will because of the lack of emotion from him in the scene. Yes, he cares about Debbie, but this doesn’t seem to extend to her missing brother.This is especially noticeable when the sergeant says Will has been hurt – Chris doesn’t seem to feel anything (or if he does it isn’t written) and, as a result, it ends a little flat for me.

    I do like your characters and the pace of this scene is well done, building up to the terrible consequences. With some emotion written in for Chris to allow us to relate to him – and in turn be as fearful and afraid for Will – I think this could be a powerful scene.

    • Jim says:

      Thanks for the good suggestions. I’m trying to convey that Chris’s main concern is for Debbie, but I’ve obviously lost some punch in the scene by focusing too much on that angle. I’ll need to revise it some to show more emotions directly from him.


  2. Belinda Rimmer says:

    I was intrigued as to why Debbie didn’t ring the police and if there was some reason: has something happened to make her brother leave the house, something to do with her perhaps? Although there is a lot said through dialogue, I sensed a lot wasn’t being said. Some of it didn’t ring true, but I wondered if this was intentional. I like the dark element running underneath the more obvious stuff. This is interesting. Debbie seems too good to be true, and so does Will. Keen to know what happens next. Good luck!

    • Jim says:

      You scented out a subplot I’ve recently decided to write into the story. Yes, there is something about Debbie’s relationship with Will that is revealed much later in the story.

      Thanks for your help.

  3. calgal says:

    I like this…just a couple things –
    – I think an intelligent teenager would call the police, unless Debbie is hiding something (which is possible, but not included here…) The police would absolutely jump into action for a missing child.
    – I agree there’s too much dialogue – you could cut to the chase faster.
    – We don’t know how Chris is feeling about all of this – he seems emotionally distant, aside from a small attempt to comfort Debbie. He’s the M/C, and we are most interested in what he has at stake. It’s his story…
    – At the end, Debbie tells the police she hasn’t been able to reach her parents – so when the cop immediately asks about a cell phone number, I wanted to shout, “DUH! She just said she couldn’t reach them!!!” Does Debbie react that way, too?
    -And one picky thing – the sentence “Her hair and fear covered her face” stopped my flow of reading. It popped out at me, and was distracting (and for some reason struck me as funny….) You could edit out that sentence and it might be better. That’s all – keep writing!

    • Jim says:

      Thanks. I’ll need to rewrite the cell phone thing, as in my mind as I was writing it, her last attempt to call her mother had happened before they left her house to look for Will–I need to make that clear.

      Thanks too for pointing out the clumsy “fear and hair in her face” sentence. I wondered about it as I was preparing the excerpt, but thought I’d leave it in and see if it worked or not–NOT.

      You’ve pointed out good things for me to work on–thanks.

  4. Rick Sherman says:

    I like it. The flow was a good pace and easy to follow. The amount of dialogue is dependent on other scenes. Sometimes it’s needed, other times, not. Police do respond to a missing child now, but then again, we don’t know the time period here. Chris seems a bit dry, like maybe he’s hiding something. We need to see a little more compassion in him. Maybe he dials 911 before they rush out of the house. Maybe he holds her when she discovers the bad news. Smart little boy to find a way onto a runway and get hit by a blade without the pilot seeing him. Maybe this needs a bit more detail from the pilot?

    Anyway, loved the idea and curious about what happens next. Great work and keep going..

    • Jim says:

      I like having Chris call 911–that works well. And to have him be more emotional on hearing the tragic news is good too. I’ll add those to the scene.

      In the following scene, I do have the police reporting to the family what was seen by those who observed the incident–that he stood by the gate for several minutes, then opened it and walked right into a still revolving propeller. Since Will’s dad owns a business at the airport, Will was used to being around the airport and airplanes. But I may still need to add in more detail about how it happened.

      Thanks for your helpful comments.

  5. Leah McKinnon says:

    This is really interesting, I could imagine the scene and the emotions of Debbie. I liked the characters although Chris’s reaction could be explained a little more. There is a lot here to grab my attention and I would be interested to read more of the story.

    The only thing I didn’t like was some things were over explained or too much information is given for the scene to feel really authentic. One example is when Debbie says
    “Oh NO!” It was forced through her lips more like a wail. “Will has a real fascination with airplanes. It probably is because Dad’s whole life is wrapped up in airplanes, and so Will likes being around ‘em too. He loves to fly in our plane.” She clutched herself, rubbing her arms.”

    I would take out “It probably is because Dad’s whole life is wrapped up in airplanes, and so Will likes being around ’em too.” – Chris would already know about most of this and I don’t feel it would be natural for a teenager to say this in a panic.

  6. Jim says:

    Thanks for your helpful insight about some things being over explained. I agree with you–it’ll be edited out. Thanks too for your affirmation that the scene is interesting.

  7. smithreynolds says:

    Thanks for sharing your work. The subject matter of the scene is of course heartbreaking. The two characters seem much younger than eighteen and nineteen. I can see you worked hard on dialogue. I guess I have one question. What is it you want me the reader to know about these people? Thanks again.

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