Flash Fiction. Meet on a plane

Rick.

I watch the people pushing down the aisle of the plane, hand baggage held like shields. A constant stream pushing and shoving trying to pack oversized bags into lockers. I notice the guy waiting to get to his seat, he’s tall and seems to be very helpful, stowing bags for the people around him. He has a pretty blonde in front I wonder if that’s his lady, she’s delicious. They are moving closer. I am in an aisle seat with two empty seats next to me. Sitting near that lady will enliven my flight. Damn she stows her bag in a locker, two rows in front of me and wriggles into a seat. Hah that’s my entertainment out of the window. The man continues towards me and stops by the row; he removes a book and a bottle of water from his bag and then rearranges bags to make room for his within the locker. He looks familiar but I can’t think why.

“Hi, I have the window seat,” he says. 

“Hi ok, I will move to let you in, bloody small spaces thank heavens it’s not a long flight.”

I stand up and shuffle aside, we are of a height and come eye to eye as we manoeuvre round each other. 

He says, ” Oh my god, aren’t you Rick Anson?”

I look at him still at a loss. ‘Familiar but I can’t place you mate.’

“Right, yes, I am. Sorry, you seem familiar but I can’t think. In what context might I have met you?”

He moves, busies himself removing headphones pillows and blankets from the seat then settles down with a grunt. 

As I move to sit back down he says, “Bonza thought it was you. We have only met once. We both barracked for team Chrissie I am her husband. Jake.” He holds out his hand I shake it whilst thinking ‘Oh he wants to be friendly.’

Oh, great I will now spend the next two hours with the husband of my ex, what a pain. I have no interest in what is happening in her life. I hope he will not rabbit about her or their life. Of all the joints in all the plane why did fate send him to mine?’

“Morning Jake small world.” 

Whilst I am well over Chrissie, I don’t want to appear a loser in his eyes or have him superior because he has the woman. He might feel that way – because he’s fa bloody dickhead – barracking the same team! Jeez! A tad crass. I  prefer not to talk at all but I suppose we have started a dialogue. I need to keep it off Chrissie and either relationship. 

The stewardess comes down the aisle with a tray of champagne or Bucks Fizz, I don’t drink either but in the circumstances.  I need all the help I can get! So, I accept a glass of champagne and knock it back in two swallows. Jake is busy getting his headphones set up that looks promising, I heave a sigh of relief. 

He stays silent through take-off and when I glance across at him his eyes are closed and his hands white knuckled … hah he doesn’t like flying. I smile point to me! 

As the seat belt signs extinguish Jake sits forward and takes a swig of water from his bottle.

He turns ” Phew I bloody hate take offs and landings, it’s made worse with Chrissie she’s a gibbering wreck. I bet she drove you loopy flying.”

“We never flew together.”

“Oh, I see.”

I need to divert him from his Chrissie chitchat, I intend to work so I get my laptop out of my bag.

“I need to work but before we settle, did you watch the State of Origin game?”

“I did. Cool game. It didn’t disappoint. That fight between Myles and Gallens turned the game into a sparring match.”

“Yup what did you think of the referee’s performance?”

“Oh, mate wasn’t he crap….”

I smile diversion accomplished!

Jake.

I am shit scared of flying. It’s not rational but I am a nervous wreck. I have been trying to keep my mind occupied but now here I am in this metal tube full of jostling people.

Aw coomeon move. Move it, I need to get sat down.

“Here let me take that for you madam I will put it in the locker.”

The woman smiles at me she thinks I am being a gentleman I want her. Out of the Way. 

The woman in front of me , blonde and wearing a skimpy top would have aroused me in other circumstances. Now I am willing her, to get the hell out of my way. 

She turns into a row two before mine. There is a guy sitting in the aisle seat, I will have to get him to shift.

I say, “Hi I have the window seat.”

“Hi ok, I will move to let you in, bloody small spaces thank heavens it’s a short flight.”

He stands up and as he unfolds from the row, we land up eye to eye. Oh, bloody hell I am sure it’s Rick Anson my wife’s ex. Wow, I never got the full story there, could be interesting. Wonder if I could get him to talk. At least I have Chrissie he couldn’t keep her. Still I will play it cool it’s not important to our relationship. 

“Oh my god, aren’t you Rick Anson?” I blurt out.

Oh, whoops he’s looking at me as if I have grown two heads, shitte. Jake hardly cool!

“Right, yes, I am. Sorry, you seem familiar but I can’t think. In what context might I have met you?”

Seems grumpy that I recognise him, now I wish I had kept my trap shut. 

I take my laptop and a bottle of water and drop onto the empty seat, stash my bag into the locker and move into the seat space. I drop into my seat foraging around to sort out my seat belt. My head is spinning.

He sits down and my mouth opens of its own volition and I say, “Bonza thought it was you. We have only met once. We both barracked for team Chrissie I am her husband. Jake.” 

I hold out my hand and he shakes, it.

What am I doing?

He replies, “Morning Jake. Small world.”

I sit back and sort out my space, opening the headphones so I can listen to the movie. The stewardess arrives with a tray of poncey drinks champagne things. I decline but Rick accepts and drains his glass. Hope he will not get fighting drunk.

Take off is on me so I shut my eyes, hands clenched hard together telling myself to breathe, bloody purgatory and I so ,do not ,want. To have a panic attack.

I keep my eyes closed breathing steadily, my mouth is dry my heart pounding, and although the air is cold, there are beads of moisture running down my neck. When the tannoy pings I open my eyes,  the seat belt sign is off. I straighten and open my eyes to check around me, Rick is looking up the plane, so I am sure he hasn’t noticed my behaviour. Just to emphasise how fine I am, I take a swig from my bottle of water and then turn to talk to Rick.

” Phew I bloody hate take offs and landings, it’s made worse with Chrissie. She’s a gibbering wreck. I bet she drove you loopy flying.”

“We never flew together.”

“Oh, I see.”

Rick takes a bag from under the seat and takes out a laptop.

He says, “I need to work but before we settle, did you watch the State of Origin game?”

“I did. It didn’t disappoint that fight between Myles and Gallens turned the game into a sparring match.”

“Yup what did you think of the referee’s performance?”

“Oh, mate wasn’t he crap….”

Samantha Beardon.


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