Where Are You Going? (Flash Fiction)

Image by adriankirby from Pixabay

Flash Fiction #120

Yilan is a travel agent who runs a small travel agency in Edison, located in a strip mall right next to a big Korean supermarket. The pandemic is bad for the travel business, but somehow she has survived and now she expects 2022 will bring much better business.

“Oh, it’s Mai again. I wish it’s somebody else.” Yilan says to herself. Mai has been her regular client, who is only interested in promotions or sales. She never goes for a trip without a discount attached to it. The most annoying of all is that Mai always makes various requests and Yilan has to search all over the internet for her for the best deal. It’s such a waste of Yilan’s time, but what can she do? That’s the job of a travel agent.

“Wow, we haven’t seen each other for a year now.” Mai pushes the door open while talking to her friend Sal. “I can’t believe I bump into you here.”

“Nice to see you, Mai.” Sal says.

After an exchange of pleasantries, the two women come to the counter, where Yilan meets them with her well trained smile.

“Do you have any trip for Washington DC? I want to send my in-laws on a DC tour. I mean May will be too hot for them. April is perfect.” Sal says.

Yilan shows Sal the DC trips, which varies from one day, two day, three days, to one week. The longer ones would include places like Maryland and Virginia.

“You should drive to DC yourself.” Mai says to her friend Sal.

“I’m too busy. No time. My in-laws enjoy going on a tour bus with tour guide and everything.” Sal replies. “Not that I don’t love my in-laws…”

Sal is trying to describe her affection for her in-laws, but Sal interrupts her by turning to Yilan, “Yilan, do you have any trip to Iceland?”

Yilan almost rolls her eyes. Another outrageous request from Mai. So typical of her. Another wild goose chase to check out a wild trip for Mai, which Yilan is sure that Mai never intends to go in the first place. Probably Mai is only using this as a prop for her imagination.

“Yes, let me check it out for you.” Yilan says, smiling politely.

“Iceland? What do they have in Iceland?” Sal asks. She is surprised.

“Well…” Mai hesitates, “It is said it’s the edge of the world with a lot of wonderful things.”

“Like what?” Sal would not give up.

“Well… all those things that you can see in an arctic circle. It’s worth it. I assure you.” Mai says.

“Isn’t it cold there?” Sal is suspicious.

“Actually that’s an misconception. It is not really cold in Iceland. It is no colder than Boston.” Mai says.

“Are you sure?” Sal feels incredulous.

Mai feels a little embarrassed that she can’t answer Sal’s questions. Suddenly she finds a way to distract Sal’s attention, “You know my sons want to go too. I told them no. Only me and my husband. I think I really prefer the eldest son. People say I favor the first born, but I always deny it. However recently I think maybe I am a little partial. When my younger one asked me about Iceland, I just said no. That’s it. But when my eldest son asked me, I started to feel guilty not to bring them with me.” Mai says.

Yilan rolls her eyes when she is staring at the computer screen. Mai has to drag her sons out in every conversation. As a matter of fact, Mai will never open her mouth without finding a way to talk about her son. It doesn’t matter what the topic is. You can talk about cosmetic product for women, and she would say, “look at these wrinkles. A mother of two sons have so many wrinkles. Let me tell you what my son said to me yesterday…”

“I have an Iceland trip here for one week, together with air tickets and hotel reservations.” Yilan turns to Mai and says.

“One week? That’s too long for me. Do you have like a three-day package?” Mai asks.

“You need to stay for one week if you travel thus far. It’s not worth it for just three days.” Sal says with a little irony in her tone.

“I can’t. You know how busy I am with my work and my responsibility. You know how it is. I can’t leave here for one week. You know. Things will fall apart without me. I am not exaggerating… Actually I don’t think my sons have ever been away from me for a week all their lives… And aren’t they growing so fast…” Mai starts her long soliloquy of how important she is and how lovely her sons are.

Yilan sighs and watches them walking out of the store.

6 thoughts on “Where Are You Going? (Flash Fiction)

  1. A travel agency! What a great place to set a tale, as the cast of people who come through is truly diverse. The atmosphere of this piece especially is wonderfully striking. šŸ™‚


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