“Tennis. Tennis,” the child begs, pulling on his mother’s skirts and you wonder why. You start to think about the back-and-forths of life. “Like chains,” the boy says, and you wonder if the world has gone mad or it’s only you. You’re heading in that direction like a bumblebee heading for a pollen fix. “It’s probably just baby babble,” you tell yourself.
“Are we gonna board?” interjects the Southern woman sitting behind you. When she says “board,” it sounds like it should have a “W” between the “O” and the “A”. That bothers you. “I thought it was an hour before we boward,” she says to her husband. You grip your duffel bag with your feet to make sure it’s still there.
Another child, maybe five years old in red coveralls, starts saying “Six six six” over and over while convulsing. You begin to doubt your mind again and stop yourself. He’s probably just bored. “Look, Mommy. I see a booger. I see them everywhere.” He reminds you of the kid from The Sixth Sense, only a fewer fries short of a Happy Meal. You continue reading Crash (the name doesn’t bother you as much as the fact that you thought it was Snow Crash when you picked it up) as people start lining up to get on the plane. You don’t see the point since they’re still calling for first class anyway. All this moving around is making you nervous.
When you looked at the flight information, you were sure you saw that the plane was a P-something. You’ve flown on everything that begins and ends with a 7, but you’re not sure about this p-thingy. It looks much newer than any plane you’ve been on and when the plane starts rolling down down the airplane driveway, it lights up underneath the wing like some kind of sci-fi hovercraft. The pilot tells the score of the Eagles game before you take off. You’re not into sports but you wonder how many people who TiVOed the game are pissed off about his loose lips (hopefully not sinking ships).
The woman next to you calls her boyfriend. She loves him and misses him. That’s the message. At least one in this couple, you think, is really clingy, but then you notice the three-pound engagement ring on her finger. It’s almost obscene how many diamonds are on that thing. You consider hitting on her.
The p-thingy’s gear sounds like an alarm going off. Just BRRT BRRT BRRT and then it launches. It’s not angled high enough for take-off. Likely, it’s going to crash and you’re going to die. Nobody else is panicking. Are they really all going to die without knowing? Maybe you should tell them.
When you look out the window and see that you’re not falling, you decide that you’re safe, but you can’t relax. That girl sitting next to you is dressed so nice with a coat and all in black, always clutching her designer purse. You think about talking to her, but you don’t want to bother her for the whole rest of the flight if she doesn’t want to be bothered. Maybe you could act like a gay man. That way you wouldn’t seem like a creeper. Women love gay men. Especially drag queens. That host on the Travel Channel just loved that drag queen. But you don’t have any make-up to put on. That might be a little weird. Just have to have a little accent but don’t overdo it. It’s more about the non-verbal gestures.
But no. It’s probably just better to leave her alone. There’s a buzz in your head that tells you that you might be the one racing for madness. You ignore it and read your book.
By the end of the flight, the plane dips too much, not even jerking down at all. It’s too smooth to be a landing. And the air vents suddenly silenced themselves. You must be crashing. You look out the window. Still clouds. You look up and around the aisles but there’s still not a single person panicking. Maybe it’s just you. You’ll be fine. Silently, you turn off your light and stare out the window. Without the buzz of your light, the whooshing of the vents, or the babble of other passengers, you bask in the pure silence of the plane. Outside the window, there is blue twilight. Two stars glimmer across from each other. There’s a plane in between them, racing from one celestial body to the other.