Flight SWR465 ready for boarding.
The sound of her robotic voice pierced through my ‘noise-cancelling’ heaphones. Scoffs. Yeah right. Had I been heavily invested in that Netflix episode; I would have probably missed it as I sat outside the gate. One last visit to the bathroom and then I’ll head to the gate for boarding.
In the just-mopped bathroom, a 7 year old with a barbie bag, is standing at the full length mirror talking to herself and tossing her hair from left to right. I glance at her momentarily, slightly happy to see someone who’s free and so oblivious to the world around her. Her plane could crash and that would be the last thing she would have done – then again, mine could too. But would that be such a loss? Probably. Probably not. I make my way past the barbie mirror kid and find an empty stall to relieve myself before my long flight. I don’t pee in airplane toilets – I think it’s a childhood fear of getting sucked through the flush, or enduring turbulence while inside that tiny, square-shaped bathroom. I can’t imagine how people have sex in there.
I wash my hands and leave the bathroom. Little barbie mirror girl is gone too. I walk back to the gate, hand in my passport and ticket, remove my shoes, walk through the body scanner and it beeps. I guess I’m cleared for take off.
15 minutes later. “Ladies and Gentlemen, your flight to Switzerland is ready for boarding. We kindly ask the elderly and those travelling with children to board first.”
I know the drill. Another 10 minutes more, and I’ll make my way to the plane too. I wait till the room is almost empty, this gives everyone inside the plane time to settle into their seats. I hope to god no ones sitting in mine.
The walk to the plane is one of my favourites. I fold my arms with my jacket wrapped around it and smile, the sun’s close to setting and I just might see it after we take off. My other favourite – sunsets and sunrises while flying. Theré’s always something hauntingly beautiful about watching a sunset, because unlike watching it from the beach; this one lasts a lot longer. Probably because you can see the entire horizon for miles and miles. It’s beautiful. I can’t wait.
I find my way to my seat, past the stares and hefty passengers trying to find the seatbelts they’re asses have hidden. I see the barbie mirror kid too, with her face pasted to the window.
Her mom possibly in her early 30s right next to her. They look happy. I remember my mom and hope she’s not too mad at my trip to Switzerland. Guess I’ll find out soon. I walk down nostalgia aisle, reminiscing about our trip to Bali for her birthday, ages ago. She was happy then – we all were. I find myself at my seat.
A man, in grey slacks and a white shirt stands up and wiggles out of his seat; his headset wrapped around his neck like a pashmina. I squiggle past him, thanking him for getting up and plump myself down on my seat. The window seat. I hope I get to see the sunset of my side. My company didn’t look too bad either – maybe I’ll finally get to find out how people have sex in the airplane bathroom. Ha ha.
20 minutes of safety demos and checking for seatbelts and staring out of the window, the plane slowly jerks away and starts making its way down the tarmac. My other favourite part – taking off. I hold my breath, find Hozier’s’ Almost, and play it. “I came in from the outside Burnt out from the joy ride She likes to roll here in my ashes anyway’’
Engines rumblings, the butterflies in my stomach having seizures and the window shutters chattering, I look over and grey slack man with his scruffy beard tightens his jaw. I now have to pick what view will be prettier; my right or left. My jaw tightens. “The same kind of music haunts her bedroom I’m almost me again, she’s almost you” Picking up speed, I can feel the tiny stones being crushed until the weight of this giant metal bird. “Be still “My Foolish Heart, Don’t ruin this on me” Take off. Just as the nose tilts upward and the front wheel kisses the tarmac goodbye, my heart soars. My window is a flurry of greens and blues, we’re climbing higher now. The animated wallpaper on my right changes to wisps of clouds, whites and greys. “I’ve got some colour back, she thinks so, too I laugh like me again, she laughs like you”
As the plane climbs higher, the butterflies begin to settle down and his jaw unclenches. We exchange smiles and his wide shoulders drop a little.
“ “The Very Thought Of You” and “Am I Blue”? “A Love Supreme” seems far removed “I Get Along Without You Very Well, ” some other nights I turn my tv on and skip through the list of movies. Mentally preparing myself for the long flight of no sleep ahead. I never sleep on flights, I’m always too excited about flying that I can’t get a wink in – even if I do doze off, I wake up 10 minutes later. So the list of movies await. I wouldn’t know where to start “Sweet Music” playing “In The Dark” Be still “My Foolish Heart, ” Don’t ruin this on me I wonder whether barbie mirror kid is doing okay. I look out of the window, and the thick blanket of rain clouds have taken over and hidden the sunset from me. Oh well. I turn back to my screen. The movie starts. 12 hours later – 12 hours of movies, music, writing and a conversation with grey slacks. He’s going home and I wonder how my life would have panned out if I married my French ex. Would I be getting fucked on a Parisian balcony while eating croissants and drinking wine, instead of flying to Switzerland? Probably. The thought of him along with the others flood in and out of mind as I remember the countless trips, the car rides and plane rides. The breakfast in beds and fucking on every counter top in rooms around the world. I remember the kisses and the moans, the beards and the groans and of course the orgasms; most of which were real, and I smile. The road to nostalgia was a long enough distraction. I found myself at the hotel entrance. I inhaled the fresh, clean pure air and walk in. Check-in was easy. My room was big and cosy, with long French windows and a view of the alps. Now this is a view to die for. i chuckle. Oh the irony. The letter on my bed welcomes me –
Ms. Riah Nams Welcome to The Swiss Life
“My Death, My Decision.”
Written by Gillian Nair
Illustration by DRG