Departure Clearance

6 Feb

65 words of mainstream fiction for Friday Fictioneers. Please forgive me. I ran out of time and loaned the other 35 words to a friend. Special thanks to my son, Scott Alan MacIlroy for helping me write this story. Could not have done it without him.

We are piloted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields and inspired by the photo prompt below (graciously provided by Rich Voza.) Please remain seated until Rochelle has turned off the seatbelt sign, then get up and wander around and check out all the other fine stories from all of the writers onboard.

Departure Clearance

My story is the text in the photograph below.





125 Responses to “Departure Clearance”

  1. deanabo February 6, 2013 at 12:04 pm #

    This is heart wrenching. Terrific writing!

    • dmmacilroy February 6, 2013 at 12:21 pm #

      Dear Deanabo,

      Thank you for saying so.



  2. arjun bagga February 6, 2013 at 12:28 pm #

    Salute Captain!

  3. yerpirate February 6, 2013 at 12:32 pm #

    Oh dear….well assembled!

  4. sustainabilitea February 6, 2013 at 12:39 pm #

    Seriously? Two of you with the same picture? Maybe I got the wrong prompt. 🙂 And how did you do that with putting your story in the other picture? Double unfair because it’s so cool. The story–heart-breaking. The way you did in only enhances the effect.


    • rochellewisoff February 6, 2013 at 12:40 pm #

      I’ll say thanks here, too, Janet.

    • dmmacilroy February 6, 2013 at 12:47 pm #

      Dear Janet,

      For discerning readers such as yourself, no amount of work is too much. I’m glad you enjoyed it/them. Thanks for reading and re-reading and commenting so nicely.



  5. TheOthers1 February 6, 2013 at 1:02 pm #

    This appears sad, but I can’t shake the feeling there’s a bit of snark nestled in there (some tongue in cheek?). That could just be because my mind isn’t fully engaged due to just waking, and like the plane, my landing into tone of this is a wreck. See, not fully awake. Making terrible similes, metaphors, puns or whatever is applicable. The story is solid though the plane is not. 🙂

    • dmmacilroy February 6, 2013 at 1:23 pm #

      Dear CC,

      No snark, no hope, the plane goes down. Last words, no time.

      Thanks for visiting.



      • TheOthers1 February 6, 2013 at 1:25 pm #

        Ah, then my perceptions are foggy with sleep. It was sad and I did enjoy it. You do such a wonderful (and thorough) job with your pieces. Sad that time ran out.

  6. Perry Block (@PerryBlock) February 6, 2013 at 1:13 pm #

    Maybe I’m just the eternal optimist (Nah, that’s sure not right!),but I see the implication that the worst did not happen. There was a bird strike that jolted the plane and set some equipment flying to earth and causing some damage, but the plane went on. “Enjoy your flight!” So, much of this might have been taking place in the mind’s eye of Amelia’s husband only. That’s what I see anyway, but either way it goes, I like the artful way this has been done!

    • dmmacilroy February 6, 2013 at 1:21 pm #

      Dear Perry,

      Denial is more that a river in Egypt. Your comment makes me want to 86 that ‘Enjoy your flight’ remark i made. I appreciate you noticing the art.



  7. lingeringvisions February 6, 2013 at 2:09 pm #

    Ooo creepy cool and enjoy your collaboration with hour hostess.

  8. David Stewart February 6, 2013 at 2:59 pm #

    wow, you really upped the realism with those other pictures. I love the innovative way of presenting this one. That’s pretty much one of the worst texts anyone could receive.

    • dmmacilroy February 9, 2013 at 10:19 am #

      Dear David,

      thanks for reading and commenting. We had fun getting those pictures right.



  9. kz February 6, 2013 at 3:38 pm #

    this is heartbreaking but Doug, it’s soooo cool how you presented your story!

    • dmmacilroy February 9, 2013 at 10:20 am #

      Dear Kz,

      thanks for saying so. And for reading it in the first place.



  10. tedstrutz February 6, 2013 at 4:56 pm #

    What the hell, Doug! I checked out the prompt; being super busy, I only have time to read one story, I choose yours as they’re always so uplifting. Your cleverness knows no bounds, as demonstrated here. You are forgiven for the missing words, as they wouldn’t fit on the screen… even Rich will agree, I suspect. Kudos to your son for his help, and don’t forget to put all that stuff back you used in the photo.

    • tedstrutz February 7, 2013 at 7:00 am #

      Okay, I’ve read Rochell’s. You two made a great team today, and 100 words spot on. More importantly, two stories making each other complete. Well done.

    • dmmacilroy February 9, 2013 at 10:22 am #

      Dear Ted,

      i put everything away the next day. And what that tells me is that my garage has way too m uch crap in it. Want to simulate a plane crash? box number 34. Sheesh.

      Thanks for the thumbs up re Departure Clearance. i appreciate your dropping by to read.



  11. Erin Leary February 6, 2013 at 5:00 pm #

    Dammit, Doug, I’m flying home from DC today. Thanks for the heebie jeebies. Points for creativity and inventiveness.

    • dmmacilroy February 9, 2013 at 10:23 am #

      Erin, Sorry I caught you flying. Just rying to tell a strong story.



  12. Ken Arnopole February 6, 2013 at 5:52 pm #

    Aloha Doug,
    your genius never ceases to explore unusual areas. The use of the cell phone amongst the parts laying on the table was absolutely magnificent. The feelings projected in the statement on the phone makes everybody pause and think how life’s so special and to remember the ones we love and that are close to us so important.
    I tip my hat to you this fantastic writing you do.
    Aloha your friend Ken.

    • dmmacilroy February 9, 2013 at 10:26 am #

      Dear Ken,

      Thank you for the kind comments. how is your blogging coming along. perhaps you should consider trying your hand at one of these prompts. you know where to find them now, so no excuses.



  13. themisanthropicmuse February 6, 2013 at 6:43 pm #

    It was bloody brilliant to use the phone txt as a photo and tell the story in all photographs. You sir, win the internetz.

    • dmmacilroy February 9, 2013 at 10:28 am #

      Thanks for the prize. Always wanted to win that.



  14. Esenga' s Voice February 6, 2013 at 6:55 pm #

    Touching…sad…really is – how could it not be… And I like your creative way of presenting the story.

    • dmmacilroy February 9, 2013 at 10:29 am #

      Dear Esenga,

      Thanks for saying so so nicely.



  15. Björn Rudberg (brudberg) February 6, 2013 at 8:59 pm #

    Brutal end indeed. And as said above the presentation is perfect. Hats off.

    • dmmacilroy February 9, 2013 at 10:31 am #

      Dear Bjorn,

      That plane crash? it’s what I end up with if I attempted to write a sonnet. Well done this week.



  16. wmqcolby February 6, 2013 at 10:19 pm #

    Aloha Doug, That is IMPRESSIVE! SO creative and chilling! You got me with it.

    Thanks for always sharing the talents with us at FF. Terrific contributions!

    • dmmacilroy February 9, 2013 at 10:32 am #

      Dear Kent,

      Thanks for saying so. And for sharing your collaborator this week.



      • wmqcolby February 9, 2013 at 11:14 am #

        Hahahaha! “Collaborator” — more like collusion! Or maybe “conspirator” — our plans for world domination are still not ready yet.
        And you’re MOST welcome!

  17. elmowrites February 6, 2013 at 11:21 pm #

    Here I am as promised! Given how often my husband travels on business, I don’t appreciate this story, but … well, it’s perfect apart from that. I’ll even forgive you the missing words. Where did this come from? Not just the prompt, I’m sure.
    Great use of the picture to show off your story – you’re an artist too, I conclude.
    The critic in me wants to ask how he had time to press send but not to finish his word, but I’m giving you artisitc licence on that one because maybe that’s exactly what one WOULD do at the last second.
    Great story and clearly took some work to pull off. This one certainly isn’t the red herring.

    • dmmacilroy February 6, 2013 at 11:56 pm #

      Dear Jen,

      Thank you so much for for great comments. We really worked hard on this one and to have your nod of assent means a great deal. As for the ‘send button’ question, that’s easy. Chase explains it. “Houses getting bigger fast.” He knew that at a certain time in his texting he’d have to stop and hit send….and when that time came, he did.

      I am looking forward to your story this week because you are a great writer and a constant pleasure to read.



      • elmowrites February 7, 2013 at 2:44 am #

        I knew you’d say that. I even preempted it. Anyway, I don’t want to think about those final moments for Chase. I’ll leave that to you *shudder*

    • dmmacilroy February 9, 2013 at 10:34 am #

      Dear Jen,

      Thanks for reading the story this week. I feel like i got a pass from the hall monitor. And your comments? i live for them. Thank you again.



  18. waitingforaname February 6, 2013 at 11:50 pm #

    Love what you and Rochelle did this week.

    • dmmacilroy February 9, 2013 at 10:35 am #

      Dear Lisa,

      Thanks very much. I love what you do every week.



  19. billgncs February 6, 2013 at 11:57 pm #

    no suffering, and a chance to say goodbye. could’a been worse. A very good story that ties nicely into Rochelle’s, nicely done.

    • dmmacilroy February 9, 2013 at 10:36 am #

      Dear Bill,

      Thanks for dropping by. Yes, if I have to go, that way is not a bad choice.



  20. train-whistle February 7, 2013 at 1:10 am #

    “Promised to never leave you. Meant it.” Love the staccato rhythm of the entire message, starting with the very first sentences, short lines, short time left. Marvelous technique.

    • dmmacilroy February 9, 2013 at 10:39 am #

      Dear TW,

      thanks for noticing those details.



  21. Joyce February 7, 2013 at 2:10 am #

    Very creative. The momentum built up a nice crescendo, all to come crashing down in a sudden abrupt, sad ending. It worked, Great job, Doug.

    • dmmacilroy February 9, 2013 at 10:40 am #

      Dear Joyce,

      Thank you very much for reading and commenting so kindly. i enjoyed your poem this week.



  22. Debra Kristi February 7, 2013 at 6:17 am #

    This is just amazing, Doug. And I have to say, leaves me a bit unsettled considering my husband is flying somewhere between four and six times this week alone. I realize it’s safer than getting in your car every day, but still… I stopped by Rochelle’s post first and after reading all the comments had to swing over here to see what the connection was. This was a really cool thing the two of you worked out. Pulling the entire presentation together this way made for a very poignant experience. Your son did a great job too. I’m impressed with the effort you dedicate to your flash fiction.

    • dmmacilroy February 9, 2013 at 10:57 am #

      Dear Debra,

      Thank you for expressing your enjoyment of our story and its construction. It took a lot of work and I’m glad it is getting some good reviews.



  23. muZer February 7, 2013 at 6:40 am #

    Loved the way you presented the story in form of a text. So creative. But a heartbreaking story. The last line “houses getting bigger” is so touching and moving.. Feels so real. Excellent take on the prompt.

    • dmmacilroy February 9, 2013 at 11:00 am #

      Dear MuZer,

      The ‘Houses getting bigger’ line was my sons. Come from an old navy ipilot instrution book. “Push stick forward, houses get bigger, pull stick back, houses get smaller…”

      Thanks for checking out the story.



  24. pennycoho February 7, 2013 at 6:44 am #

    Very clever and nicely done. Great collaboration here!

  25. nightlake February 7, 2013 at 10:52 am #

    brilliant..a clever idea..but the story put together with Rochelle’s is sad to read..

    • dmmacilroy February 9, 2013 at 11:06 am #

      Dear Nightlake,

      Some stories just are. Thanks for reading and commenting.



  26. Sandra February 7, 2013 at 1:07 pm #

    Horrifying… totally gripping and great presentation. What can I say… genius at work? Well done.

    • dmmacilroy February 9, 2013 at 11:07 am #

      Dear Sandra,

      I love it when you say that word to me.

      Thanks a bunch.



  27. rich February 7, 2013 at 1:24 pm #

    there’s always at least one story with such cleverness that i wish i had thought of it. so this is that story this week. taking a picture of the text message. brilliant.

    • dmmacilroy February 9, 2013 at 11:11 am #

      Dear Rich,

      Turnabout is fair play. I can remember thinking just those words about many of your stories. Thanks for saying so. Loved you riff on Francis Macomber this week. Top of the line. Told Tom so, too.

      Hemingway is rolling over in his grave.



      • rich February 9, 2013 at 2:21 pm #

        “top of the line” right back atcha. thanks very much.

  28. Charles Oyeleke Williams February 7, 2013 at 1:42 pm #

    The Genius of a piece. You pulled it off well this week and set a very high standard for up coming stories…The pair of you did a job many of us are jealous of. Well done sir and my regards to your son!

    • dmmacilroy February 9, 2013 at 11:12 am #

      Dear Charles,

      Thanks for your fine comment. I’ll tell my son you said hello.



  29. Tom Poet February 7, 2013 at 2:43 pm #

    This was put together perfectly..The photos really added to this piece. What a beautiful labor of love Rochelle and you managed to create…and like someone else said “The houses are getting bigger” is a great line. Touching.


    • dmmacilroy February 9, 2013 at 11:17 am #

      Dear Tom,

      Collaboration was in the air. Thanks for your fine comments. You and Rich had a fine story yourself. Inspired choice of a title and great paint job highlights. You should do it again sometime.



  30. t February 7, 2013 at 5:32 pm #

    As a stand alone piece, this is powerful and, when combined with Rochelle’s response, breathtaking.

    • dmmacilroy February 9, 2013 at 11:32 am #

      Dear t,

      We wanted each story to stand alone, so thanks for saying that that worked. Together was cool, too.



  31. Joe Owens February 7, 2013 at 6:35 pm #

    In this day of instant communication there is likely to be more of this with situations like a pane crash, where the passengers have time to act. Very touching and sad.

    • dmmacilroy February 9, 2013 at 11:36 am #

      Dear Joe,

      Thank you for saying that. many a note has been found scribbled on air sickness bags by doomed passenger. This is no different.



  32. JackieP February 7, 2013 at 7:20 pm #

    Great take on it, especially with Rochelle in on it too. The both together, so sad, yet so full of love.

    • dmmacilroy February 9, 2013 at 11:38 am #

      Dear Jackie,

      Thanks for saying so.



  33. JKBradley February 7, 2013 at 7:41 pm #

    Couldn’t help but think about 911. Nicely done, as usual.

    • dmmacilroy February 9, 2013 at 11:40 am #

      Deaar JK,

      Thank you, Sir. i appreciate you reading.



  34. Anne Orchard February 7, 2013 at 8:23 pm #

    A great balance between your two stories. Last minutes as well used as they could be, I guess. Fantastic work.

    • dmmacilroy February 9, 2013 at 11:40 am #

      Dear Anne,

      Thank you. That was the intent. To capture that moment.



  35. Shirley McCann February 7, 2013 at 9:08 pm #

    Oh my. This brings back memories of 911. Such sadness here.

    • dmmacilroy February 9, 2013 at 11:30 am #

      Dear Shirley,

      Good that we remember now and again. Thanks for visiting and commenting.



  36. 40again February 7, 2013 at 11:04 pm #

    Hi Doug
    Very clever idea using the photo of the text message; great collaboration with Rochelle making both stories work so well.
    Good to see you back
    Dee 🙂

    • dmmacilroy February 9, 2013 at 11:21 am #

      Dear Dee,

      Thank you for the thumbs up re Departure Clearance. I appreciate you reading it and taking thetime to comment. Glad to be back.



  37. Mike February 8, 2013 at 9:41 am #

    A great pier of writing and clever way of presenting it.

  38. Mike February 8, 2013 at 9:43 am #

    Hi Doug
    My iPad spell check wants to take over my life – meant ‘piece’ not ‘pier’!

    • Douglas MacIlroy February 8, 2013 at 9:47 am #

      I know how that auto-correct maniac can really make you crazy. No worries, I do context well. Thanks for the kind comment.



  39. elappleby February 8, 2013 at 10:29 am #

    Hi Doug
    This is brilliant, genius and all the other things other people have already said. It gave me shivers and tingles – love the way you used the picture of the phone, love the last word never being completed. Incredible. Best ever.

    • dmmacilroy February 9, 2013 at 11:15 am #

      Dear El,

      Can’t thank you enough for your stellar comments and compliments. Fuel for the inkwell gas tank, to to speak and your comments are high octane. Thank you.



  40. Linda Parkinson-Hardman February 8, 2013 at 11:00 am #

    The focus on the series of stories which are all telling the same tale, but from different perspectives is truly inspiring and I’m amazed at how they all fit together. In fact it could also be scenes in film. Well done and I’m inspired too.

    • dmmacilroy February 9, 2013 at 11:03 am #

      Dear Linda,

      We were pretty excited putting it together for all of the reasons you mentioned. Thanks for noticing.



      • Linda Parkinson-Hardman February 9, 2013 at 3:05 pm #

        You’re welcome Doug, after I’d read Rich’s as well I realised it could make a film 🙂

  41. boomiebol February 8, 2013 at 1:57 pm #


    • dmmacilroy February 9, 2013 at 11:02 am #

      Dear Boomie,




  42. writeondude February 8, 2013 at 5:38 pm #

    Excellent stuff once again. I love the way you put the story in a picture. Inspired.

  43. sandraconner February 8, 2013 at 6:13 pm #

    Well, I read Rochelle’s yesterday and didn’t know you two had collaborated until I read the comments. So I decided to deliberately wait until today to read yours, in order to savor Rochelle’s and then let it fade a bit so that yours would hit me fresh. It certainly did! Totally apart from the other side of the story, this piece stands on its own as something undeniably exceptional — for all the many, many reasons others have noted above. I won’t repeat the list, but you undoubtedly know what a superb, creative job you’ve done.

    • sandraconner February 8, 2013 at 6:14 pm #

      By the way, I love what you’ve done with the header on this site!

      • dmmacilroy February 8, 2013 at 6:23 pm #

        Dear Sandra,

        Thanks for the input re the header. First time anyone has said anything. I like it, too.



    • dmmacilroy February 8, 2013 at 6:21 pm #

      Dear Sandra,

      Since you’ve started reading my posts you have been very generous with your praise and detailed in your comments. I cannot thank you enough, but will try by striving to keep the bar set high. This one, as you have read elsewhere, came from a very deep place and I’ve never tried harder to get a story right.

      Thank you so much for stopping in to read and taking the time to leave such wonderful words to tithe me over until next Friday.



  44. rgayer55 February 8, 2013 at 6:47 pm #

    Dear Doug,
    I read this post as soon as it came out. The first thing that hit me was the similarity to some of the true stories from 9/11. We never know when we say goodbye if it will be the last time. You and Rochelle (Ruth Ann this week :)) did and outstanding job collaberating, making this even more real to the rest of us. To be honest, it bummed me out when I first read it and left me wondering how I was going to pull off humor from this prompt after having such a sad image burned into my brain. Outstanding work. Kudos to both of you.

    • dmmacilroy February 9, 2013 at 10:55 am #

      Dear Russell,

      Thanks for reading and commenting in full. Sorry to have bummed you out, but not. Means I hit what I was aiming for. hitting humor is a lot harder and you do it so well. See you next week.



  45. k~ February 8, 2013 at 7:35 pm #

    You and Rochelle teamed up this week? Did she get your other 35 (thinking back, I could have sworn there were more). Either way, this was a very creative means for putting the prompt together… together. 🙂

    • dmmacilroy February 9, 2013 at 10:51 am #

      Dear K~,

      yes, and it was a pleasure. Thanks for reading and commenting.



  46. Angel Fractured February 8, 2013 at 9:59 pm #

    Wow, I like that you included the story as a picture in a text message. It made the tale all that more powerful.

    • dmmacilroy February 9, 2013 at 10:50 am #

      Dear AF,

      i appreciate your taking the time to read and comment on my story.



  47. vbholmes February 8, 2013 at 11:16 pm #

    Powerful presentation, Doug–visually strong and adds reality to the story as well. And kudos to your son . A new writing team in the making ?.

    • dmmacilroy February 9, 2013 at 10:49 am #

      Dear VB,

      Thank you for saying so.



  48. readinpleasure February 9, 2013 at 12:21 am #

    Brilliantly done. Powerfully heartbreaking. 🙂 Unfortunately I have no story this week. a pity for a superb prompt.

    • dmmacilroy February 9, 2013 at 10:48 am #

      Dear Celestine,

      Thak you for reading and commenting. I would love it if my son took a lot of notes. i tell him to all the time.. Hope he has a good memory for he’s doing things that few people ever will.



  49. anelephantcant February 9, 2013 at 3:12 am #

    How very cleverly presented.

    • dmmacilroy February 9, 2013 at 10:46 am #

      Dear AEC,

      Thanks for visiting and commenting.



  50. Sunshine February 9, 2013 at 4:50 am #

    you, your son and Rochelle did a super job…*clap-clap* 🙂

    • dmmacilroy February 9, 2013 at 10:45 am #

      Dear Sunshine,

      I thak you and Scott thanks you. For reading and enjoying.



      • Sunshine February 10, 2013 at 10:00 pm #

        you’re both welcome. :p

  51. Nick Johns (@nickjohns999) February 9, 2013 at 7:51 am #

    You really nailed this one, Doug – good stuff. In addition to the spare, well judged prose, the effect of presenting it is this way greatly increases the impact and personalises it for the reader.
    Continuing the innovative presentation vein – have you checked out the Business Card Fiction challenge?
    Thanks for this, it has given me something to think about for future tales.

    • dmmacilroy February 9, 2013 at 8:00 am #

      Dear Nick,

      Thank you for your detailed comment re Departure Clearance. I appreciate you taking the time to write so much, so well. Thanks also for informing me about the Business Card fiction chalenge. I will check it out right now.



  52. Atiya W Townes (@AtiyaWTownes) February 9, 2013 at 8:29 am #

    You and Rochelle Tag teamed us this week. I like it. The good thing about this is that he was able to say goodbye to his loved one. Beautifully done.

    • dmmacilroy February 9, 2013 at 10:44 am #

      Dear Atiya,

      Thanks for commenting. Rochelle and I worked hard to get that tag teaming done well. Harder than professional wrestlers. ha! I kill me.




  53. Sarah Ann February 9, 2013 at 10:45 am #

    This is great, Doug. Beautiful sentiments and fantastically presented.

    • dmmacilroy February 9, 2013 at 11:41 am #

      Dear Sarah Ann,

      Thank you for saying so.



  54. rochellewisoff February 9, 2013 at 12:07 pm #

    Dearest Chase,
    Deep calls to deep. Few experiences in my life compare with this! Setting the stage, as well as the writing itself, has been an experience that will stay with me. Thank you for your generosity in allowing me to write the other side of a tragic story and for loaning me your 35 words.
    Diatomaceously yours,

    • dmmacilroy February 9, 2013 at 12:13 pm #

      Dear Amelia,

      I feel the same way. Your half of the story made the combination of the two greater than the sum of the parts and from the moment you asked to come on board I knew it would be a weekend to remember.

      Let’s do it again sometime, when the muse strikes.



  55. The Bumble Files February 9, 2013 at 8:39 pm #

    Dear Doug,
    No need for 35 words. You mastered this story in 65! I love the use of media here. It really enhances the power of your story. The TFOA (things falling off aircraft?) I looked up. Is this correct? This is truly superb!

  56. valeriedavies February 10, 2013 at 4:05 am #

    So clever and so poignant. I too thought of 9/11, and houses getting bigger was brilliant… and I learned something TFOA.,, no Hudson miracle… love the way you included so many resonances in the one short message

    • dmmacilroy February 10, 2013 at 4:46 am #

      Dearest Valerie,

      Was just thinking about you and wondering how you were. Are the sweet birds singing outside your window? Tell me a story.

      Thanks for stopping by to read and comment. I really spent a long time getting everything right in this story. Worked hard with Rochelle Wisoff Fields on her companion piece here
      The line about the houses getting bigger was my son’s and was straight out of the matter of fact and semi-fatalistic world of aviators that are seen yet unseen as they carry us round the world on our tunnel vision trips.

      I’m gratified to know that you enjoyed Departure Clearance, Valerie.



  57. Alastair March 9, 2013 at 11:53 am #

    Both parts of the story make you go cold. A brilliant collaboration.

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