With that desperate declaration, here then is my re-entry into the Flash Fiction Friday brigade.
If Cabin Pressure Should Change
He didn't even know her name. Names had never been part of the arrangement, had never seemed necessary until now. A superfluous trapping of life beyond the Air Canada cabin, the telling of names would have burst the protective bubble that for the past half year had insulated their twice monthly encounters in seats 19E and 19F.
But even though he didn't know her name, didn't know much about her beyond the fact that twice a month she flew the red-eye from Montreal to Winnipeg, he recalled their first meeting with a sense of nostalgia. His pulse raced a little every time he remembered the first time he saw her, reclining in the window seat, book open but ignored, airline blanket draped across her lap. With her haughty air and the knowing glance with which she appraised him as he settled in the middle seat beside her, she looked more like she was ruling a small European principality than sitting in a cramped airplane on a cross country flight.
She turned a discerning eye to him, appraising what lay beneath his new white shirt, now wrinkled, sleeves rolled back to his elbows. With one shapely eyebrow raised, she tilted her head and addressed him, will you join me in a drink?
Four glasses of wine later, the aisle seat passenger snoring lustily beside them, the airline blanket found its way across both of their laps. As it had on the dozen subsequent flights they had since found each other on, both of them always conscientious about booking their seats early, she in 19F, he in 19E.
Lately, he found himself thinking about her all the time. Who was she really, how did she spend her days, what would it be like to see her on the ground? He envisioned meeting her in a cafe, dreamt of taking her to his apartment for the weekend, but she always refused his muted suggestions. No names, she insisted, you are 19E, I am 19F.
This flight, however, things were going to be different. His first thought, upon awakening early and luxuriating in the faint rays of the early dawn that crept across his bed, was that this time he would wear down her resistance.
The assured optimism of the dawn was now rapidly shriveling as he surveyed with dismay the endless rows of tail lights that inched along all eight lanes of the freeway. As the radio broke the news of the multi-vehicle collision and the resulting bridge closure 20 kilometres ahead, he feared the worst. When the deepening dusk on the horizon settled into impenetrable gloom, he realized that digital clock on the dashboard was moving more rapidly than the tires on the car.
There was no way he was going to make that flight.
Wally couldn't believe his luck, getting the final seat on the flight. He didn't hold out much hope when he had agreed to fly standby, so he was astounded when he was called to board moments before the flight was due to depart. He shuffled his way to the back of the full plane, knees bumping into his carry-on bag, until he reached the final empty seat on the plane.
He thought that the woman in the window seat looked oddly startled when he squeezed his way into the row. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see her affixing him with a perplexed stare while he thrust his bag under the seat, so to set her at ease and to make up for taking the last bit of space on the cramped plane, he turned to her and smiled. Good evening, he nodded to her.
She looked him and up down slowly, raised one eyebrow and titled her head. Then, a slight smile began tugging slowly at the corners of her mouth and she asked, will you join me in a drink?