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Martha sat at her window seat, looking out at the clouds, her hood pulled up her ears. The flight from Los Angeles to Boston was almost full, but the seat next to hers was vacant. A book would have been an ideal company for the long journey, she thought regretfully.

She couldn’t wait to reunite with her family, especially her daughter. The little one was just three, and at this stage of her life, Martha did not enjoy any kind of business travel. Nevertheless, it is getting over, and I am going back home, she thought to herself and closed her eyes.

“Hi,” a cheerful, chirpy voice woke her up.

A pretty girl, about 5 years old, clad in a pink dress was smiling and waving at her. There was no adult around her. Martha smiled back.

“My name is Rose,” the child extended her hand.

“Hi Rose, I am Martha.” 

“What a lovely name!” 

Martha thought the child was extraordinary – bold, outspoken and confident for her age.

“Thank you, Rose, so is yours.”

“Anyone sitting in this seat?” asked the girl.

“No, my dear.”

“Would you mind if I gave you company for a while?” The kid was a delight.

“Why not!” Martha cleared her handbag to make space for the girl.

Rose was a chatterbox, but Martha had no complaints. Uncomfortable with strangers, Martha always made an exception for children.

“Whom are you travelling with?” Martha was curious.

“Oh! With a police officer.”

“What!? Where are your parents?”

Rose seemed disquieted. Martha realised her question was perhaps too intrusive and unwarranted for. “I mean – ” she stammered, sensing the girl’s foreboding expression.

“They died in a car accident,” said Rose with moist laden eyes. “A police officer is taking me to my aunt in Boston.” Martha felt shattered.

They sat in silence briefly. Rose fixed her gaze outside through the window. 

“Do you want to sit by the window?” Martha offered to clear the gloominess. She had paid a premium for the window seat. But she had upset the child too.

Rose accepted. They exchanged seats. Martha tried to make further conversation, but Rose was glued to the window and showed no eagerness to talk. Martha understood. She was a mother, after all. She eased into her seat.

“Where have you been?” Martha was shaken by a stern voice.

She turned around to find a well dressed woman of her age, staring intensely at Rose. Rose looked perturbed.

“You are -?” asked Martha, puzzled.

“I am her mother,” the woman said. “I am very sorry if she has been bothersome. She threw a tantrum for the window seat, and walked off to the toilet later. Meanwhile I dozed off. When I woke up, I couldn’t find her next to me. And here she is!”

Martha gaped in disbelief.

Just when the mother grabbed her and pulled her away, Rose turned to whisper, “Sometimes others can see her, but mostly it’s only me who can.”

************

Picture Credit: Image by StockSnap from Pixabay


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