The Buoyant Attitude

People I know visit Tallinn, often. I do too, but not to hangout with them. Because conversations can easily resemble those that take place in a staff room, with certain groups intent on the jargon that eludes most multilinguals.

I visit Tallinn to have a conversation with my neighbour, whom I often avoid meeting at the corridors of our building. Because the thin walls of the city boxes we live in transmit all sorts. I usually resort to catching glimpses of her comings and goings through a peephole. I suspect she does the same.

But on a ferry to Tallinn, we suddenly have a lot to talk about as empty bottles of champers sway to the rhythm of ocean waves, and with our voices matching the sound of live music. We lose all inhibitions. We are away from home.

note: This short story (140 words) is a response to the prompt, Away from Home, for Telling Tales with Magaly Guerrero; a Pantry of Prose.

Khaya Ronkainen
Khaya Ronkainen is a writer, poet and creative professional. Her blog focuses on all things poetry and creative nonfiction.


  1. This is such a delicious read.

    Your sentence structure–short, clear, often with a wink–paints a perfect picture of the narrator’s living conditions and her reasons for preferring to talk to her neighbor away from home. The image of the characters catching glimpses of each other through peepholes add a tone of mystery to tale, leave me wanting to know more about what happen in that building, about the dwellers…

    Absolutely love this.

  2. Ack! Bottles bobbing in the ocean! This is a lively piece, with great energy. Love the photo. What a cool place to visit.

  3. I’ve never visited Estonia, Khaya, but it does look very pretty. I’m not sure about those staff room conversations and jargon, though, or thin walls. It reminds me of living in a city. I like the idea of the freedom of the ferry being a place where one can have conversations.

  4. Great story Khaya. I love that feeling when “we lose all inhibitions” while away from home.

  5. There is so much to love in this one, Khaya! ❤️ This is an exquisitely drawn prose piece which leaves much to contemplate especially; “conversations can easily resemble those that take place in a staff room,” I strongly resonate with the image of one being uncomfortable in a group setting where language is a barrier .. sigh .. some people just don’t have the courtesy or sense as to how one should behave in public.

    Tallinn, Estonia seems like a gorgeous place to visit! 😀

  6. The story is quite dramatic. It’s interesting how the characters cast away their mysterious shells and are normal when they are away from home.

  7. Interesting that one can have such deep conversations, that one could not have in an office, when one is on a ferry. Perhaps the rhythm of the waves frees the mind from inhibitions.

  8. I am loving the conspiratorial tone in this. It’s like the speaker ran into the reader on the boat and is letting them in on the fun. Everybody needs a chance to cut loose.

  9. Hi Kim! Estonia is a beautiful country, if you do visit try to go beyond the capital. There are really cool small coast towns and islands to explore.

  10. Sanaa, thank you. I’m so glad you resonate with the group settings and language barriers; the many faces of jargon that create a shared identity, whilst it also excludes others.

    Tallinn is a beautiful capital, and the whole country is worth a visit. 🙂

  11. The story is to some extent a depiction of the geographical location, culture, ways of living and interactions. I’m glad you got something out of it.

  12. What a delight, the contrast between being in the buildings and being on the boat – matter of the way one uses different spaces to optimum effect. A fascinating glimpse into a place very foreign to me.

  13. How much better it is to get away to a neutral place to be yourself without prying eyes and ears!

  14. perhaps the environment on the ferry, with the ocean and the sky is more conducive for conversation than the cramped rooms of an apartment (you mentioned city boxes)?
    i enjoyed your prose piece. 🙂

  15. This resonates–the way that impersonal surroundings allow conversation without the pressure of living inside someone else’s space.

  16. I’m pleased you enjoyed this story, Rosemary. I use to find these interactions strange, infuriating and amusing at first. Now, after many years of living here, I’m no longer an observer but a participant. 😀

  17. It has more to do with a way of life than spaces. 😀 You might have heard (or not) that Finns don’t do small talk. There’s no need or pressure to talk, if there’s nothing of importance to talk about outside social settings, even between friends.

    But I’m pleased to hear you enjoyed this story. Thank you for reading!

  18. That’s the thing! Ferry is a neutral space, so to speak. We can lose inhibitions there but guard our privacy and personal spaces, when we get back home. 😀 I’m glad you resonate.

  19. Luv the sway of this story, the bustle, time out, and finally the connection
    Have a good week


  20. This story has a bit of myself in it. I am mostly recluse when I’m home. I lose myself in being alone, but when I’m out and about the energy of people and places transforms me into chatty bubbly. Love this piece!

  21. You have no idea how pleased I am to hear I’m not the only one who behaves like this. 🙂 Yes that wonderful energy that transforms, when in good company is familiar too. Thanks Susie for reading!

  22. This is so interesting, in how you wrote this Khaya! I love the way, these two people, when they are away from home, are so open! Big Hugs!

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