Turbulence by Len Kuntz

On our descent to Seattle, the sound of screaming woke me.
Outside, the sky crackled with streaks of lava. When I looked closer, I saw that it was actually jagged branches of lightning.

Then turbulence struck. Like a bomb.

Our plane leapt and bounced and veered.

Children squealed. Someone yelled, “Terrorist!” Latches ripped off their hinges and sundry kits flew down the aisles like cannonballs.

The woman next to me looked oddly unafraid. I figured she’d gone into a form of shock, so I took her hand and shouted, “We’ll be all right!”

She pressed her other hand to her lips, peaceful, kissing the trinket from her necklace.

Then, just as sudden as the turbulence had hit, it ended. We flattened out, the plane continuing its descent, finding the runway with little-to-no wheel skid.

It reeked of vomit. I stank, as well, my shirt dripping sweat, pants soaked with urine.

I tried to cover myself with a napkin.

On a pad of paper the woman wrote, “Are you okay?”


When she tapped the paper, I realized she was deaf.

“I’m fine,” I said. “And you?”

She smiled, stood up, walked down the aisle and out.

A boyfriend met her at baggage. They kissed, then signed. She made bumping motions and laughed. Across her neck, the silver cross jangled.

My heart felt small, but it beat hard, filled with so many questions I’d never ask: what it was like to be deaf, brave, to be so certain.


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Filed under Len Kuntz

13 responses to “Turbulence by Len Kuntz

  1. Len, this is so beautiful and “real”– the plane scene you really captured the fear and then this whole mystical thing with this woman, then your denoument. wonderful story!

  2. Len

    thanks, susan, for reading and your thoughtful comment.

  3. I loved your last line, as if being deaf brings courage and certainty. Very good, very real. Peace…

  4. So she couldn’t hear the panic but the turbulence didn’t bother her? I’m a bit jealous!

  5. This was very cinematic and a wonderful take on the theme.

  6. Just stunning, Len. A view not only into the difference of deafness but into the creative mind of a phenomenal writer.

  7. Kim Hutchinson

    It took my breath away, Len, then it touched my heart. Amazing story.

  8. grey johnson

    You got such mileage out of so few words (no pun, truly). I felt like I had been shown a, perhaps, life-changing episode.

  9. Len

    thanks, everyone. i so much appreciate your thoughtfulness. and merry christmas, as well.

  10. merry christmas Len, thanks for the gift of your craft…this is a magical story, the twists and realistic setting details, dialogue. And your impressive, intriguing use of this week’s theme: silence. I am awed.

  11. ‘…to be so certain’

    Especially liked this ending!

  12. Pingback: Week #32 – Silence | 52|250 A Year of Flash

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