Nice People

By Philip Vassallo

PROMPT — I am grateful for ...

Before she lands on Planet Home, she replays how she got there. the nicest people were the ones who piloted her journey. Midnight: the airport now empty but for the sleeping man sprawled across three vinyl seats who gave her, flying standby in her ninth month his ticket to fly home, now lying standby through the night since yesterday’s rush hour for the first morning flight, the janitor in the restroom, old enough to be her mother, who gave away her PPE, two masks and three pairs of gloves, saying, “You need it more,” the flight attendant, barely hiding his tattoos, who escorted her to a first-class seat and service she did not pay for, saying, “Your baby needs it,” the driver, who took her luggage to her door and told her she would not accept the tip, which was for her unborn child’s piggy bank. One day, she’ll be on her way, driving a bit too fast, when from the car seat in the back, her child will say, “Slow down, Mommy,” reminding her to step on the brake not far from Planet Home and of all those nice people who show up wherever she goes.

Philip Vassallo’s poetry, essays, and fiction have appeared in many publications, and his plays have been produced throughout the United States. He is the author of The Art of On-the-Job Writing, The Art of Email Writing, and How to Write Fast Under Pressure.


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