Another Flash Fiction Challenge, this one hosted by Dan O’Shea and Steve Weddle.
The theme this time around is airports, all the stories have to incorporate an airport and be in the neighborhood of 750 words.
To see a list of all the stories, you can go here:
The Steve Weddle Memorial Airport Flash Fiction Challenge
Here’s what I came up with.
THE RESURRECTION AT HASENPFEFFER FIELD
“Why did you go away?”
“I did something bad.”
The two of us were in the parking lot of the Currie Valley Airport, also known as Hampstead Field – “a little airstrip for a little town.” The terminal was a small, round building with one set of doors, one ticket counter, and one restaurant – the Hippity-Hop Cafe. Outside, there was a parking lot, a hangar and a runway. If you wanted to book a flight through Currie Valley Air, you could fly to St. Louis. That was it, St. Louis. Otherwise you could charter a plane.
“Why did you do something bad?” Cheyenne asked.
We’d talked about this before, but she always had more questions. “I needed money,” I said. “For me and your Mom. And you.”
“So you did something bad? For money?”
“I didn’t think it was that bad. I thought I could get away with it.”
Confusion crossed Cheyenne’s six year old face. “But you didn’t get away with it.”
“No, I didn’t.”
“If you got away with it, would it still’ve been bad?”
I’d been out for almost a month and was trying to connect with her. She’d been born while I was away. Earlier that day, I’d asked her, “What would you like more than anything in the world?”
“Then we’ll go to the pet store and get you a bunny.”
She shook her head. “An airport bunny.”
Despite its modest needs, Hampstead Field took up a fair amount of terrain and most of it was grassland. Rabbits dominated the area. When flying in, you could see rabbit holes dotted all over the property. Around dusk, you could see dozens upon dozens of brown bunnies eating in the vicinity.
Because of all the rabbits, people around town called the airport Hasenpfeffer Field.
“How do you know about the bunnies at the airport?” I asked.
“Mommy takes me sometimes,” Cheyenne said. “We visit the bunnies and eat supper and watch the little planes take off. There are lots of people going away.”
I locked the car and we walked to the large meadow in front of the terminal. I’d brought a fishnet that once hung as a wall decoration and a card-board box with holes punched in the lid. We stepped off the tarmac and the grass under my feet felt unfamiliar.
“Let’s go slow,” I said.
“Okay,” Cheyenne whispered.
We inched our way toward seven rabbits relaxing in the sunset. “By the way,” I said. “Do you know how you catch a unique bunny?” I’d looked this up on the internet for the occasion.
Cheyenne looked apprehensive. “No.”
“Unique up on it.”
She didn’t laugh, or even smile. I wondered if she knew it was a joke.
“Do you know how you catch a tame bunny?” I tried.
She shook her head.
No reaction. I could hear metal clanging on metal coming from the hangar. We moved on quietly.
The rabbits looked content; some of them eating, some just sitting. I noticed one with his ears back, scratching himself with one of his hind feet. He seemed to be where he wanted to be; I didn’t like the idea of putting him in a cage, taking him away from his home. But I’d made a promise to my daughter, so I lifted the net, readying it for a throw. Cheyenne tip-toed behind me. As we took our time getting close, before I could even think about throwing the net, the rabbits scattered. One second they were there, the next just empty grass.
“What happened?” Cheyenne asked.
I lowered my arms, the net hitting the tops of my feet. “I’m sorry, Honey.”
“Where did they all go?”
“I’m sorry.” I considered trying to get one out of one of the holes and into the box, but the thought of grabbing onto wriggling fur and yanking a creature out of its life made my throat feel tight. “I don’t think… I don’t think I can…”
My daughter smiled at me. “It’s okay, Daddy. I still got to see them. I’ve never gotten this close to the bunnies before.”
“Okay,” I said.
We walked back to the parking lot. When my feet again touched the asphalt, I felt a little more comfortable. I looked around at the cars scattered in front of the terminal. “There are lots of people going away,” I said.
“Maybe there are lots of people coming back,” Cheyenne said. She put her hand in mine and we walked to our car.