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Leaving On A Jet Plane

Jean Valjean

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IT WAS THE DAY AFTER HIS THIRTIETH BIRTHDAY, AND JOHN HAD TO LEAVE FOR THE WEST COAST. He had lived in New York for twelve years now. That was twelve years worth of friendships he had to say goodbye to.

     It was only the afternoon, but the sun was already down. He put on nice clothes and ran all the way to Diana's house.


All my bags are packed I'm ready to goI'm standin' here outside your doorI hate to wake you up to say goodbyeBut the dawn is breakin' it's early mornThe taxi's waitin' he's blowin' his hornAlready I'm so lonesome I could die


     He knocked on the door to her apartment.

     The sound of feet coming down the stairs.

     She opened the door and he leaned against the railing on the front steps. Her short, golden hair framed her face perfectly.

     “Does it hurt to say goodbye one last time?” he asked. The coldness of the air turned his breathe into light clouds.

     “I was worried you wouldn’t say goodbye enough. It’s hard not having you around as a friend anymore,” she said.

     “It happens,” said John. “It’s an inevitable thing in life you have to get over.”

     “I’ve never actually…” she said.

     “Never?” inquired John. “Never ever?”

     “No,” said Diana. “I guess I’d consider myself lucky. But you get over it, I imagine.”

     “Maybe,” said John. “It depends on the person. I had friends for my first two years of college who then went their separate ways. I still wish we could keep in contact, although there’s nothing we can do for each other when we’re on separate coasts. I still really miss them. I can live still, but that doesn’t mean I’ll ever forget them and be nostalgic from time to time.”

     “You look cold out,” said Diana. “Come in!”

     Inside they prepared hot chocolate and sipped at it under the warm orange lights of the kitchen. It was an exceedingly nice apartment. It only lacked a fireplace.

     He wondered of Diana was expecting him. She was wearing sleek pinstripe pants and a beautiful violet blouse. Even though she was just his best friend, he felt oddly attracted to her. It brought back memories of when he so insecurely wondered if she was the one. He had to mentally slap himself, then and now. It wasn't right to think that.


So kiss me and smile for me

Tell me that you’ll wait for me

Hold me like you’ll never let me go

‘Cause I’m leavin’ on a jet plane

Don’t know when I’ll be back again

Oh baby, I hate to go


     “Nothing heals the soul like a good cup of hot chocolate,” said Diana. She smiled and leaned her elbows against the table, closer to him. She really seemed to be waiting for him and didn’t have much to say.

     John sipped at the hot chocolate, and winced at how hot it was. He winked and smiled with one corner of his mouth while lifting the cup up to his face again. No, it couldn't be done. He had to put it down. Maybe it would get colder after a long while of conversation.

     “I really wish I could see you again,” he said.

     “I do, too,” said Diana.

     “What if I do come back?”

     “I’d still be here,” said Diana.

     “As nice as this place is, it’s still just an apartment. Sooner or later, with your upward mobility, even you will move on. This isn’t the house of someone who’s settled down.”

     “I’ll send you a letter if that has happened,” said Diana.

     “That’s very thoughtful…” said John. He tapped his foot.

     As inevitably happens in all such conversations, there was an awkward silence.

     “I think I’ll get working on that hot chocolate, then,” he said, and he continued to sip at it one bit at a time.

     “In case you’re labeling this as an awkward silence, John, don’t worry. I choose to think of it as savoring the moment.”

     John put down the cup.

     She leaned in and kissed him.

     John was conflicted, but he kissed back.

     “I just wanted to do that once before having to say goodbye,” said Diana.

     John felt ashamed. He kissed her back and he hadn’t even the slightest reason to. He was moving away, never to see her again. It was a shallow jab at pleasure. Yet it felt so good. It felt so sincere. It felt right. He looked into her eyes.

     “Maybe we’ll see each other again,” he said.

     “Would this be motivation for you to come back?” she said. Then the bombshell: “I think I’m in love with you.”

     John thought about how far away he would be. He would be on the West coast, thousands of miles away. He couldn’t come back regularly. He would have to prioritize her over so many other things in life. Yet, he could afford it.

     “Yes, I think I will,” he replied. He scooted his chair next to hers and embraced her. “I’ll never let you go.”

     “Tell me that you love me,” she said.

      “I love you, Diana.”


There's so many times I've let you downSo many times I've played aroundI tell you now, they don't mean a thingEvery place I go, I'll think of youEvery song I sing, I'll sing for youWhen I come back, I'll bring your wedding ring


     The cups rested empty on the table now. In the next room, they they were both on the couch with John’s arm around Diana’s shoulder, both looking through old pictures that they and their friends had taken together.

     “Hey look, here’s that one time we met that girl named Aristotle,” said Diana.

     “I don’t mind that name,” said John. “I actually like it.”

     “So if we had a girl, you would consider it?”

     “Would you?”

     “I guess I would.”

     John could feel himself sinking ever more deeply into the couch as he grew more relaxed. Somehow, the ideas that were coming to his mind weren’t intimidating him anymore. They were so easy to articulate, so easy to share.

     “Diana, when I come back, will you marry me?”

     “I’ll have to remember that this is how you proposed,” she said. “Do I get a ring?”

     “No, it was just a spur of the moment idea,” he confessed. “But I’ve thought about it. We’re both established. We’re both ready to settle down. We’re best friends. We’re stable people. And we love each other. In our adult capacity to know what love is, it’s making sense to me.”

     Diana leaned her head into his shoulder. “Yes, John. I will marry you.”

     John rested his head on hers.


So kiss me and smile for me

Tell me that you’ll wait for me

Hold me like you’ll never let me go

‘Cause I’m leavin’ on a jet plane

Don’t know when I’ll be back again

Oh babe, I hate to go


     The next day John was at the airport. He had called all of his guy friends to let than know and Diana had called all of her gal friends to do the same. It was now officially confirmed. Everyone knew. The held each other’s hands as they walked through the airport, an engaged couple.

     They both wore their business clothes. He had on his black tie and trimmed suit and she was wearing a woman’s business suit. While it was true that they both had work that day, they also wanted to make these last few moments count for each other. This was dressier than their usual business attire.

     He turned to Diana before he got on. “I don’t know what to say without being overly romantic.”

     Diana hugged him. “I’m fine with ‘I love you.’”

     “I will love you. Always.” They pulled apart. John looked at his watch. The plane left at five in the morning, and four o'clock right now. Passengers were expected to get on the plan a half hour before it took off. He picked up his roller. They were right next to the flight terminal. With half an hour left, he didn't have to hurry, so he wasn't picking it up to get going.

     He pulled out from one pocket a cube-shaped, fuzzy case.

     “I bought this at the last moment,” he said.

     “It’s beautiful,” said Diana, before she even opened it up. Then she did open it up, and it was, of course, an engagement ring. The only thing that could perhaps be an unexpected touch was that it was aquamarine instead of diamond. Diana had been born one month too early for diamond.

     “Can you say it again, now that you’ve actually seen it?”

     “It’s beautiful,” she said. She kissed him in the cheek. “When will we see each other again?”

     “I’ll be back on the holidays,” said John. “I’ll send you letters every weekend. Whatever you do, though, don’t send me letters back starting with ‘Dear John…’’

     He looked into her eyes. They matched the aquamarine gem around her finger. He rested his forehead against hers. For just a moment, he could sleep before getting on the flight, let his mind escape to those far off places that it desperately wanted to go, and just rejoice in the comfort she gave him.


Now the time has come to leave you

One more time, let me kiss you

Close your eyes and I’ll be on my way

Dream about the days to come

When I won’t have to leave alone

About the times I won’t have to say…


     John was leaving on a jet plan. He didn’t know when he would be back again. Looking at his schedule, he just knew he would miss the first few holidays. As the ground grew smaller, he rolled his head to face the window, and just let the ever-changing scenery to lull him asleep. Then he dreamed of Diana.

     After all this craziness, he could finally settle down.


So kiss me and smile for me

Tell me that you’ll wait for me

Hold me like you’ll never let me go

‘Cause I’m leavin’ on a jet plane

Don’t know when I’ll be back again

Oh babe, I hate to go

‘Cause I’m leavin’ on a jet plane

Don’t know when I’ll be back again

Oh baby, I hate to go

Edited by Jean Valjean
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Another great story. It was nice how one defining moment in a person's life, such as moving in this instance, allowed these two people to realize how they truly felt about each other. Often times, opportunities come, but fear and anxiety make it impossible for one or both of the parties to share how they actually feel. It can become overwhelming and that feeling of regret then takes over and also hope that maybe someday things could work in their favor and maybe another chance would occur. Thank you!

Wordsmith <3

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  • 3 months later...

Official Short Stories Critics' Club Charity Review


My mother used to sing this song to me sometimes before bed, so it has a special place in my heart. I found myself humming it throughout this review. But anyways, onward!


To be honest, I thought you could just cut the first few paragraphs before the first section of the song. It didn't really add anything to the story and I thought the few minutes of dialogue expressed much more about those characters than the introduction did.


In general, the dialogue and thoughts of your characters flowed pretty well. There were points where I wasn't sure about your word choice, however.

Perish the thought.


This just seems rather...antiquated, and British. It makes me think of Hugh Laurie in Jeeves and Wooster. In fact, the previous sentence would be better if it was just left hanging.


Ouch! Too hot.

He winked and smiled with one corner of his mouth while lifting the cup up to his face again. No, he couldn’t. It was still just too hot. He had to put it down. Maybe it would get colder after a long while of conversation.


This, on the other hand, sounds a bit juvenile, like something you might find in a picture book. I'm sure there's a more mature way to word it.


Jon’s flight would take off in an hour at the early hour of 5:00 a.m. He was glad he had taken that afternoon nap the day before.


I feel like this was a bit awkwardly inserted into the narrative. It would be more natural if you mentioned that it was early morning later and then talked about the flight time when it came time for them to separate.


Overall, though, I really like how this is put together. Nothing ground breaking, but a pleasant little story about two adults and a nice break from the dramatic pseudo-teenage romances that I see so often. Keep on writin', being prolific is good. ^^

Edited by Yukiko

There's a dozen selves inside you, trying to be the one to run the dials

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And some aren't even on your side.

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:kaukau: Thanks for the review, Yukiko. Looking back, I like this one, if only as a sweet, quaint little thing, and I think I will like it more if I take some of your editing tips. They all seem right to me, and I'll see what I can do. Some of the introduction might stay, though, but I'm definitely going to shorten it. A lot of that information doesn't seem necessary, since it comes out in the conversation, so I'm just going to keep in the part about his age and some other bare details, such as him leaving, since I think these are just a little important to contextualize their relationship (since the concepts of them being sharing an adult Platonic friendship for twelve years seems important to me and was the main element of chemistry that led to writing this).


I'm really glad you found it a pleasant read, and it's especially good that this song has a special place in your heart. I'm glad I could do something for you as a reader. It's also really cool knowing that you hummed the song while reading this, because that's what I did while writing it.



Edited by Jean Valjean
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