Finish It! #20: The Aisle Passenger

Finally! Boarding time! She made her way to her seat and stowed her carry on away. As much as she loved traveling she was not keen on this 12 hour flight. She sat down and fastened her seat belt, wondering who would sit next to her. After a quick look out the tiny window she started scanning the other passengers entering the plane, wondering who would eventually sit down next to her. She glanced out the window again and observed the busy world out there. Then someone sat down next to her.

His phone was attached to his ear. He nearly whopped me in the face as he slung his duffel bag off his shoulder and slid it underneath the seat in front of him. He slammed down the arm rest and leaned his back against it. I could see the sharp outlines of his shoulder blades through the thin white t-shirt he wore. His long dreadlocks were tied in a ponytail at the nape of his neck and cascaded down his back like a horse’s tail of black licorice.

Towards the center aisle he yelled out, “Call the police, bitch! They’ll take one look at you and know I never laid a finger on you, or my son!” His licorice tail swished side to side, swatting away my fingers as I attempted to tap his shoulder. He held the phone in front of his face, snaking his head, pointing his finger, and if he were face-to-face with the woman on the other end.

The other passengers stared, and I cowered into the corner between the window and chair, willing myself invisible, praying the other passengers wouldn’t think we were together, that I was his next domestic victim, and on the phone, the bitter ex. We can’t control who they sell plane tickets too. Luck of the draw, I projected into their minds. As a child, I believed I was a telepath. I closed my eyes, scrunched my face, and compelled others to say what I was thinking. My sister often told me she could hear my voice in her head. Even when I wasn’t trying, she’d tell me to stop, screaming there wasn’t enough room in her brain for the two of us.

She should’ve been in the seat next to me instead of this Rasta man. I wanted to do something special for her birthday, take her to see the Wimbledon Championships in London. But her favorite tennis player had recently pulled out of the tournament with a wrist injury. He couldn’t serve a 130mph ball with a broken wrist, she’d told me. I tried to convince her to come anyway. She would still get to watch the top players up close and personal, enjoy the prestige of the sport’s most sophisticated Major, maybe even see the queen or Kate Middleton. For the love of God, it’s London! Who wouldn’t want to enjoy a city with such history?

I turned to the dread head who was still arguing into his phone despite the pilot’s announcement to turn off all electronic devices. “All you women are the same. You get mad when a man doesn’t want your crazy ass no more, and the first thing you do is take it out on the kids!”

I had the money to buy her ticket. I’d even prepped her mind the night before, sending my dreams across the train tracks to her downtown apartment. Dreams of our squeezing each other’s hands as the plane took off, once in London, speaking in fake British accents and complaining how America ruined the language with it’s y’alls and ain’ts, having drinks with one of the lower ranked tennis players in a historic English pub.

“Excuse me, sir, we’re preparing to take-off,” the stewardess said with a smile, though her eyes were fearful that he would, in response, direct his anger toward her.

He nodded and shifted to face the seat in front of him. I could hear the high-pitched voice of the woman on the phone, like a frantic mouse caught in a trap.

“That’s the damn flight attendant, dumb ass.” He pulled the phone from his ear, as if yanking out a connecting cord, and hung up. As he leaned to his left to put the phone in his pocket, he looked at me and smirked.

“Girl problems?” I asked.

“We’ve all been there, right?”

My mind drifted back to my sister, who left me confined to a window seat for 12 hours next to a man whose hair looked like candy but probably tasted as bitter as his attitude and his bitter ex-girlfriend who would probably try to call back some time during the flight, and he’d answer, ignoring airplane policy, calling her a bitter bitch, accusing her of using their children as crutches to smite him, and in listening, I would find myself growing bitter, tempted to knock on the skull of my sister with my voiceless words and tell her she chose a 12 inch TV inside of a tight studio apartment over top of a shut down strip club over Wimbledon and me and a birthday in London, and I’d tell her not expect me to do another thing special for her other than crowd her brain the way she hated when we were kids with 12 hours of licorice candy, battered women and children, and bitter custody battles until she fell asleep in front of a blank television screen and static.

—Nortina


So, I just noticed how this story quickly switched to first person, haha! I’m not going back to change it. 😉

Written for Finish It! #20. Click here to read other stories and add your own!

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