This one id fiction…
It is late. I’ve been travelling all day. Suited on a plane. Tie loosened a notch. Engrossed in a book on my phone (Sherlock Holmes). The cabin is dark, but I have my overhead light on.
We don’t speak or make eye contact when she sits down. I’m in the center seat. The armrest was up when I found my seat. I left it there without thinking. She leaves it up as well. The seats are small. And the flight is bumpy. Her arm and leg repeatedly brush mine. The smallest things can get your attention.
I am on my way home from a very long day trip to Iowa and back. A winter storm is wreaking havoc with all the flights in the air tonight.
Early in the flight she pulls down her tray table and puts her head on it in an attempt to sleep through the bumpy ride. The profile of her body is distracting. Black knit top perfectly outlining her feminine profile.
The choppiness of the flight increases. Suddenly, the plane takes a huge dip. Like a very bad elevator ride. She bolts upright and reflexively grabs my wrist. Our eyes meet for a moment. Espresso brown eyes. Jet black straight hair frames her face. Shades of Paula
“I don’t fly well” she says apologetically and lets go of my arm.
“It’s ok. I ride these planes all the time. It is a little bumpy but we are safe.”
She smiles. “I’m gonna hold you to that.”
The ice is broken. She is mid 20’s and on her way to a friend’s wedding in Nashville this weekend. She is wearing all black.
Her name is Allison.
Her nerves are jangled from the rough flight. We chat a little, but don’t really find much in common. The conversation is halting. Each of us makes one or two attempts to get it started. We are both tired, neither of us is up for small talk. However, there is an attraction here somehow. We keep smiling stupidly at each other. The flight takes another hard bump and she yelps. Embarrassed, she apologizes again.
She tries one more time to conjure a conversation, but it falters. Finally, I just turn my head to face her. Looking directly into her eyes, saying nothing. She waits expectantly for me to speak. I hold fast in silence. More shades of Paula.
Instead, I lay my hand palm up on the seat between us. I nod down to show her. She considers it for a moment, then laces her fingers with mine. Unexpectedly, she reaches up with her free hand, turns out the light, leans against my side, and places her head on my shoulder.
Fortune favors the bold.
I’m able to spot them now. Mid-to-late 20’s with an affinity for older men. Not quite ‘daddy issues’, but in the same neighborhood. The Anderson Cooper Effect.
Have a little grey hair, be nicely dressed, behave like a gentleman, show a pinch of self assurance…these young ladies will notice.
We spend the remainder of the flight in silent intimacy. There are nail marks in the back of my hand when we land in Atlanta. Our flight arrives very late and we’ve missed our connections. Delta is giving out hotel vouchers as we exit the jetway. The agent assumes we are together.
“Two rooms or one?”
Allison takes my hand again and answers her.
…That is what we call the ‘Assumptive Close.’
It is after midnight. We are exhausted.
We are traveling companions now.
to be continued…