As soon as the plane door closes he feels his sinuses plugging up.
All in his head?
Doesn’t much matter, he supposes.
He rubs under his eyes. It hurts more than it helps, but at least it’s something to do.
He has books. He has a mini laptop. He has an almost child-like imagination.
Still, none of them are going to distract.
He opts for trying for sleep.
She’ll be there.
The plane is half-empty. He’s alone in this three seat row. He thanks the sluggish economy, and his unpopular destination, in his head. He sits nearest the window but stretches his long legs out towards the aisle.
He looks at the window. It is sunny out. Mostly. His eyes unfocus. He sees some sort of prism-y rainbow deal. Illusion? Astigmatism? He’s not sure. And too dopey already to care much.
He instinctively rubs his eyes. The pretty colours disappear.
He kinda misses them.
His eyes get heavier.
He thinks about her. He thinks about how he can actually see it on her face when her guard comes down. And when she lets him in…
When she REALLY lets him in…
His mind gets foggy before he can finish the thought. Sleepy darkness floods in all around him.
He isn’t sure if he is thinking, if a dream is beginning, or if a day dream just hasn’t gotten the memo. It is him. It is her. There is a boat. There is a moon. There is a palpable desire. There is an absolute certainty that they are both going to savour it for a while before giving in.
The knocking on his elbow seems so far away.
He looks around, inside the dream. She is gone. He is frantic.
Night turns to day.
Suddenly he feels like an interrogation spotlight is in his face.
He tries to blink it away.
More knocking on his elbow.
He is accepting consciousness under protest.
He turns his head and sees a little girl sitting next to him.
“Hello,” he offers hesitantly.
“I’m Naomi,” she says, as she wipes her nose with the back of her hand, before extending it for a shake.
He takes her hand with a little laugh.
“Are you here by yourself?” he asks.
“No, my mom is over there.”
He looks across the aisle and sees a woman in her late-20s struggling with an infant. The woman sees her daughter talking to him. Her face shows an expression of exasperation mixed with hope that this man on the plane talking to her four year old is not a lunatic.
“Are YOU alone?” Naomi asks.
“Do you have a wife?”
“Do you have a girlfriend?”
“Not really… I guess. No.”
“Bless you,” he says.
“Why don’t you have a girlfriend” Naomi asks, unwrapping a snack size Aero bar.
“I screw up a lot,” he offers.
Naomi just stares, the chocolate already beginning to melt between her little fingers.
Naomi stares some more.
He continues, “I think too much. WAY too much. I try to make decisions for others, about what’s best for them, rather than letting them make up their own minds. I try to logic that which can’t be logic-ed. For all my big talk about it, I ignore all my instincts towards romance and flat-out going for things I want. When I know better. And I really do know better. I try to find perfection, rather than create it.” He exhales.
“Maybe you shouldn’t do that anymore.”
Naomi stands up. She waves. She skips back across the aisle to her mother.
He pictures her standing at the airport. She is focused on the runway. She is doing that thing she does where she says a little prayer in her head for safe landings and take-offs. The thing that causes her lips to move without her realizing it.
He pictures her in those fingerless knit gloves that go halfway up her forearms.
He looks at the window. He tries to squint the rainbow back.
He wonders what the fuck he is doing on this plane.