you, again, @ the airport
You take off at a run. More of an odd, flat-footed jog, really— any movement too severe will send your heels flying, and you just can’t with that right now.
Same old story—
a precautionary check of the departures board left your jawbone clattering on the tile behind you as you fled to the concourse.
You thought you were safe this time.
Why would you do that?
You take your place on the escalator, one step above your carry-on. You don’t blink. You try to make a point of looking like you’re in a rush, but you look like the rest of them.
You step off before the last bit levels back to flat; one wheel of your carry-on catches where the handrail meets the disappearing line. You fall in such a way that the contents of your inner right coat pocket (passport, boarding passes, travel itineraries, a pack of Doublemint gum, and a Pilot G-2 black pen) scatter upon the 90s-patterned carpet in front of you.
You feel shame.
You snatch up your documents and gum, the look in your eye keeping a 3-foot radius of space between you and the other travelers. A man on a BlackBerry in a poorly-fitting gray suit kicks your pen away as you continue your spiral into hell; you close your eyes and reflect a moment, before waving goodbye as the pen falls into the gap between the terminal transfer train and the platform. You get off your knees with a blind sense of purpose. Terminal B, Station 3; Gate B-74. You are on the train. Your focus is so strong you don’t even notice the train had to circle back around before you recognized your stop. Terminal B, Station 3. You step into the terminal. Gate B-74. You click down several of the moving walkways, (on the left, as customary) and confirm your flight is leaving out of Gate B-74. You nod, and click back to the food area, politely excusing yourself past an elderly woman standing still in the middle of one of the walkways. This bothers you. You approach your favorite airport food cart. You order a pretzel dog, and only after paying were you told of the 15-minute wait.
Your heart breaks.
You crouch next to your carry-on by the “pay here” sign and stare at the customers who did not order pretzel dogs as they leave with their little paper bags. Your time comes. You walk back to Gate B-74, sit by the window, and look through the residue of children’s handprints out at the people moving ladders on the tarmac to check out the plane bellies.
They call your name for stand-by, but they’re out of first-class seats so you’re a little peeved. They gate-check your carry-on as you pat the outside of the plane twice for good luck and safe travels. As you pass through the first-class cabin on the way to business, (ha, did you think you were in economy?) you see the man in the ill-fitting gray suit. You bare your teeth. You take your seat right behind him, separated by the cabin’s wall divider and velvet curtain. The man in the seat next to you is civil, although a bit large. He has the window. This bothers you.
You adjust your pillow and settle in, putting the complimentary toiletry bag by your left hip. You leave the blanket in its plastic wrap and set it on your lap; you don’t need it yet. You request orange juice as your pre-flight drink, and soon the safety video starts. You feel guilty for not following along with the card in the front pocket like the women with the neckties in the video ask. You turn around to see if your nearest exit does happen to be behind you.
You hear the man in the ill-fitting gray suit say to a flight attendant:
“Excuse me ma’am, but do you have a pen?”
ALEXIS DIANO SIKORSKI is a polyamorous Filipino-American studying English and Psychology at Texas Woman's University. Her work has appeared in Pour Vida Zine, Mistress, Enclave, Queen Mobs Teahouse and Sea Foam Magazine. She likes dogs, looking out of windows on airplanes, and caffeine. She was probably a sailor in a past life. @sikorskidear