Taking Off

There is no fear of flying here. She love, love, loves it. Despite the airport waiting, the narrow foot space, the vague smell of something not too clean burrowed like rats into the upholstery. She loves it.

The grin is there already on her face, even before the safety demonstration that no one ever bothers to attend to, although she pretends to. Out of some sneaking wonder for the secret flitting lives of the cabin crew. And out of politeness. Of course.

And –



She loves it.

She loves the acceleration, is head-over-heels-passionate for the whoosh-slump of the moment when the plane leaves the ground. That swinging in her stomach. The hurricane that turns on, and then oh so forgivingly turns off, her ears.

Perhaps most of all, she loves the other passengers.

The little boys in matching lumberjack shirts who squash the stunted windows, shouting “Mum! Mum! It looks like toys.”

She loves the mum already with her headphones on, the cream-slow thick flick of her magazine. Her practised “mmm”.

And the teenage couple, the girl freshly blonded and bed-tanned, fully prepared for their very first break, while her boyfriend sits rigid, with his eyes screwed tight, white-lipped as they ascend. The way that girl laughs and pretends not to notice how scared he is, offering only the briefest touch to his corrugated knuckles –

She loves the kindness of that. The whole containment.

And she’d like to lean over too, to let him know that really,


There is no need to feel afraid.

But naturally, she won’t intrude and right now, she has no one else to explain to. The seat beside her is empty. The plane’s crowds have been mismanaged. And yet although she can’t see him, she can feel her own missing person there. Right there. She’s keeping hold of him, no matter what he might be thinking. Or where he’s placed. How high, or low.

Unstoppable, the thoughts fly out of her (to him? to him?), twined with that happiness.

And does he catch them? Perhaps it makes no difference.

His ghost hand’s wrapped so knowingly in hers.