Avoidance

Avoidance

A Story by Fae
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Wrote this for a christmas short story contest for a local newspaper.

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It wasn’t Jessica’s fault. She was the one who told me three months in advance, a month in advance, a week in advance and now, one day in advance of my imminent deadline. She’s a very good personal assistant. It doesn’t matter though, I still find myself here, making this call. I think Jessica knows that no matter how much she tries to help me with this, we’ll always end up here; waiting for my correspondent in Bermuda to answer, to make sure he picks me up in time.

 

 It’s not anything illegal; it’s just avoidance. That’s a nice word for it, just like in high school when you’d not talk to a kid you didn’t like �" it’s exactly the same. I’m just making my situation a little more comfortable, that’s all. Jessica knows this, and she accepts it. Well, maybe it helps that she can afford to visit Hermès and buy a new handbag every weekend, but, regardless, we understand each other. She understands that I’ve got to do this so I can continue to do what I do best, and I understand that she knows me better than anyone and could probably make my life choices better than I ever could.

 

9:47 pm. I rub my eyes with my thumb and forefinger and trail my hand over my face. There’s stubble on my chin and I feel how I imagine a sailboat that’s stranded on a beach must feel. I am in a shiny Porsche, the lights from the city reflecting off the car’s body, and Louis, my driver, is speeding because we have to get to the airport before 11. Jessica is beside me and she’s got that look on her face where I know she’s just bursting to tell my something, but I’ve got that look on my face where I’m too tired to listen just now.

 

I didn’t pack much, even though I’ll likely spend about a month in Bermuda. I have domicile there, and to maintain it I have to spend a certain amount of days there per year yadda yadda yadda. It’s a quaint little place, but more importantly, a tax haven. Let’s just say I’m the owner of a very big and very successful corporation, and the U.S. tax system steals from it. They’re the ones forcing me out; it’s really not my fault at all. Right?

 

Anyhow, Winston, the pilot of my jet, says he’s got a prime departure time. They shifted a few flights back just for us. Isn’t that nice? To fly from New York City to Bermuda only takes about 2 and a half hours. Winston’s the wisest guy I know and he’s great at his job. He’s never failed to get me back on time, not once.

 

When you’re a kid a private jet seems like the be all and end all of a billionaire (not suggesting that I am one, not suggesting anything at all exactly), but once you actually have one it’s not that exciting. It’s just a necessary side effect of the life you lead; it’s imperative that you have one so that you can fulfill your schedule, not so you can show it off to your friends. And now I’m making having a private jet seem like a chore. It’s not, I’m just saying that it’s like a personal assistant, or the fact that you can’t get to your son’s graduation on time because you have a meeting �" it’s just part of the job.

 

Once we’re on the plane and in the air Jessica finally caves.

 

“You do know what today is, right Andrew?”

 

“Enlighten me,” I say, but I know full well what she’s getting at. I just don’t want to address it.

 

“It’s Christmas Eve,” Jessica says, skeptically, because she knew exactly what I was doing.

 

“Is that right?” I act uninterested.

 

“Yes,” is all she says, and it hangs there anxiously, like a dress on a washing line secured with only one clothespin.

 

“I think they have Christmas in Bermuda too, Jessica. There’s nothing to worry about,” I say eventually, grinning. Jessica was having none of it.

 

“Maybe you’d like to call Amanda…?”

 

“No,” I say, a little too quickly, “no, I don’t think that will be necessary.”

 

11:23 pm. We are over the Atlantic and I’m trying to convince myself that I’m not running away from anything (besides my taxes). Maybe there are dolphins and rays and swordfish beneath us right now. I’ve made the right choices in my life, haven’t I? I’ve given Jessica a job. I’ve provided for my family. I’ve done everything someone is supposed to do. Who knew that Jesus had a winter birthday?

 

The sky is pitch black outside the jet and lights are dimmed. I’m tempted to sleep but I find myself unable to, slumped in my chair and drowsy, but stubbornly awake. I find my mind drifting to my son, Jake, who is probably in bed now. He is 17. Amanda, his mother is probably still awake. She likes to go for walks at nighttime and there is a safe park near our house that she is probably walking in right now. She still does the whole filling of the stockings thing of course, she’s like that �" always holding on to the magic and mystery of life, even if it’s artificial. I got Jessica to wrap some presents for them and they should be under the tree already, waiting for the morning to unwrap them. I wonder if my stocking will be filled?

 

I don’t know how I grew apart from her.

 

A few minutes later, it seems, Jessica is shaking me awake. She says that we’ve landed with two minutes to spare. I jump up at that and pump my fists in the air. Bermuda’s not nearly so abrasive as New York when it comes to lights �" Bermuda’s like a Christmas tree I suppose, and New York’s like a car’s high beams.

 

On the way to the Princess I’m wide-awake, and in no time at all I’m checked in and flopping down on my bed. Distances are so short here; I forget until I come back and it’s pleasantly surprising. I figure I should probably check my emails one last time before I sleep. I note that a mini candy cane has been left on my pillow. How sweet.

 

It reminds me of when I was here around Christmas a few years ago. Jake is on my shoulders and we’re in front of city hall in Hamilton city. It’s not cold at all, but many people beside me are bundled up as if they’re going on an Arctic expedition, all with their children equally swaddled. Everyone is chatting enthusiastically, and suddenly sleigh bells begin to jingle and a loud ho-ho-ho! echoes over the roof of the great building.

 

“There he is, do you see him Jake?” I say, pointing. Jake squeals and starts to bounce up and down.

 

Amanda is next to me, smiling, and when Jake starts to squeal she squeezes my hand and grins at me. She’s wearing this lovely blue scarf and hat and she just looks stunning. Santa on the roof starts to throw down candy canes to the kids, and their squealing grows louder.

 

Jake wants to get down at this point because he wants to sneak through people’s legs and collect as many candy canes as he can. I tell him to be ruthless and get as many as he can. Amanda must have laughed as he rushed off, and then I leaned in and kissed her on the nose and then briefly on the lips.

 

Then I come back to reality and I’m sitting there in my room with a plastic-wrapped candy cane in my hands, tapping my foot a little. Before I can think about it and convince myself otherwise, I take out my iPhone and dial Amanda. It’s ringing.

 

It’s ringing.

 

Then �" “Hello?”

 

“Hi Amanda,” I say, “it’s Andrew.”

 

© 2015 Fae


Author's Note

Fae
What do you think of it? Also, is the dialogue formatted correctly?

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Added on February 11, 2015
Last Updated on February 11, 2015
Tags: avoidance, plane, taxes, short story

Author

Fae
Fae

Bermuda



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