Jane and Scott had grown up in the same town but they had never met.
But yet, here they were in seats 13A and 13B on a small regional jet going through a monstrous patch of turbulence. Their elbows had been touching for nearly 45 minutes, but neither of them had said a word.
Scott was glaring at the “Fasten Seat Belts” sign and had been doing so since he first felt the slightest bump in the air. In his mind he was having a very lengthy conversation with God. At first he was begging for mercy, but had since given up and was pleading for life on behalf of the two toddler’s he had seen board the plane after him.
Jane was thinking about how if she was a cloud, she would be really annoyed by planes. “Let’s give ‘em a jostle,” she thought, while in her cloud persona, “that’ll really show them.” Then she thought about how she didn’t care how planes worked. It was enough for her that they worked and that she was headed home to see her mother and if some clouds had to be disturbed, than that was fine with her.
The flight attendants took their seats in a hurry and Scott tried his best to read their expressions. Were they used to this? Is this normal?
He sipped the last bit of his second vodka and soda, praying that somehow his need for service would call into action a global series of events, stopping the turbulence and allowing the flight attendants to resume their duties.
Jane named a cloud ‘Walter’ and then she laughed a little bit and looked over at Scott. She expected him to laugh at first but then remembered that he was not in on the joke.
Scott turned to her and politely returned half a giggle.
"Do you know that clouds are just water?" Jane asked.
"I’m sorry. What?"
"Do you know that everything is water? Even air is water. And right now we’re just swimming?" Jane said.
Scott hadn’t noticed Jane before. Jane was gorgeous.
"What are you getting at?" Scott asked.
"You look nervous."
"I am. I’m not a good flyer."
"So don’t think of it as flying. Think of it as swimming. Are you afraid of swimming?"
"No," said Scott.
"You’re mostly water too," Jane said. "You and me and the clouds and the air, we’re all water, so there’s nothing to be scared of."
Suddenly Jane placed her hand down on the armrest and let it brush gently against Scott’s hand. He looked down and was immediately embarrassed by the whiteness of his knuckles, the clamminess of his palms.
"Do you think the clouds have feelings?" asked Jane.
"So they don’t care if you live or die?"
"No. I don’t think they care," said Scott.
"Good. So there’s nothing out to get you."
The plane began to really shake. An overhead bin in the first class cabin dropped open and a leather case fell out. Nothing big enough to injure anyone, but a sign nonetheless.
"How about that?" asked Scott. "Doesn’t that scare you?"
"What’s the worst that could happen?"
"Well, we could die. We could be scared the whole way down."
"I wouldn’t be. What’s there to be scared of? If we go down, we both know what’s going to happen."
The lights in the cabin started to flicker. Scott could tell that the flight attendants were not as calm as they wanted to pretend to be,
"I don’t want to die," said Scott.
"You don’t know what ‘die’ is. You didn’t even know that we and the clouds and the air were all water."
"I’m fine. Don’t worry about it," Scott said, turning his head slightly away.
"I guess what I’m trying to say is that I think you’d be better off being afraid of the things you understand instead of the things you don’t."
As soon as Jane said this, the lights came back on, the “Fasten Seat Belts” sign was turned off, and the flight attendants took to their feet.
Scott let out a long breath and pushed his call button, ready for another vodka soda. Maybe a double this time.
Jane flicked Scott’s plastic cup and said “This is mostly made of water too, you know. And the ice also.”
"What’s your point?" Scott asked, low on patience.
"I guess I’m just flirting," said Jane.
Scott looked at Jane for the first time. Golden hair and a slightly imperfect smile, bigger on the left side than the right.
The flight attendant hovered above Scott and then tapped him on the shoulder.
"Oh, I’ll have another vodka soda. And whatever the lady is having," Scott gestured over to Jane.
"Oh thanks. I’ll have a water," said Jane.
The flight attendant walked away and Scott looked back at Jane. She was relaxed. She must always be relaxed, he thought.
"I guess I’m not good at flirting" said Jane.
"No. I’m not sure you’re very good at it at all."
"Can I try again?"
And suddenly there was a flash of bright, bright light and then there wasn’t anything else.
The clouds looked on. All they could see was Jane not being afraid. Not afraid of Scott and not afraid of them and not afraid of anything and they thought her quite silly.
These skies can be very dangerous.
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