She was aware that through her eye-shades which were too tight around her head that the cabin lights were changing from dim to an early morning white bright. She had slept rather well cradled in the soft but overly washed sheets and the embroidered snug-wear for the BA0199 flight to Mumbai. She wished there had been cradling another person though, a secret she held tight in her heart. The 777’s Rolls-Royce engines had occasionally powered up during the night, jolting and pushing the plane higher, taking her and the slumbering passengers through turbulence and thick cloud. The odd crack of lightning that sparkled on blind shuttered windows was lost on her as they flew East to chase the sun.
She remembered the night before at the airport and leaving.
It had been a journey planned with so much excitement and adventure in the offering and she needed that, but she had not taken into account that an unexpected farewell could hurt so much. The thought of it, the last kiss, the last gasp. Then she had stared through the taxi window as rains streaked in the late afternoon traffic on the M3, and time had flitted past. She saw herself in so many places with him. Sometimes, and in reaching for her phone to check for new messages she started reading the old ones again. She felt the deep stab of separation. It was wonderful to have the memory, she could still taste his kiss. They had wanted so much to enjoy more time together and earlier plans had been made before her journey had really started.
Before taking off, she had tried to enjoy the special lounge in the Terminal. After a while she grew tired of boozy faced men intent on talking to her. Their opening lines were always about her Christmas and New Year as though they were dismal relatives who has not been invited but felt they had a right to know about her family and those last days of play and love. That avenue of questions soon closed and once the ‘where are you staying routine started’, a friendly wink from the lounge purser offered her an escape to the main shopping and neon-bright halls. Here everyone was jostling, excited, tired, picking over duty-free being proffered by Russian doll-like girls with bleary eyes, and all seemed like friends.
Airborne, she had dined on fine china with small immaculate spears of asparagus, beef medallions and chocolate. She loved chocolate. She was not hungry though and sipped on cool wine up at 40,000 feet away from her love and life. She remembered that on the way home she must never choose the seafood, brought in from the Indian Ocean outside of Bombay, her destination. In the night invisible hands had removed her glass and pulled the blanket over her. She slept on.
As the plane swept over Austria, Hungary and Romania tired mothers below carefully put babies to bed and hoped their husbands on New Year Eve parties would come back not too drunk. They thundered high over Iran where poverty-weary managers tossed and turned, awakened by the high swish of the plane and looked upwards, wishing they could be there as well.
She opened the blind and the plane banked over the Arabian Sea. It was sparkling in the dawn. Small boats and dhows ploughed miniature furrows over the blue cloth deep. The smog of the promise of a new day and year and she instinctively lent with the lean as if on a motorbike. Pulling up her bed with the ease of the electric system, so she could sit, the cabin looked as though a wild party had taken place. The blankets were being kicked off into drunken piles, discarded glasses rolled down the aisle and papers were pushed into corners. Thin newly made up stewardesses puffed and fussed with cold orange juice and hot towels. The plane shuddered and the compressed air of the undercarriage being put down started her heart to beat faster.
She looked her passengers, bad-breathed and alcohol laden. She had a fresh adventure to start, but who would meet her when she came home, but she would think about that later. The ground seemed too slow, but faster it sped past and the eight Avon tyres screamed in pain as they bounced and clouds of rubber smoke streamed away. They were down. In the back of the plane they clapped. As they taxied to the terminal she tried the wifi, to see if any new message had come in. She waited as the tiny electronic connection wheel spun, downloading data from the ether would offer anything.
Ping. That was a sound that made her smile and she hope so much for a message.
Glancing down at the screen, yes it was him, she squeezed her arms in thinking of him, and thought about reading it later on the balcony.
Maybe she could wish him there for just a moment. Her holiday could start now.