Window Seat: A Short Story

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From his airplane seat, the masses in the waters below looked like a long-dead sea monster. Or was it a slumbering underwater behemoth, waiting for certain shifts to occur in Earth’s ancient crust before awakening? He felt a tinge of anxiety and nervousness in the lower left-hand side of his heart. Before long, this tinge would grow to envelop his entire heart, much like that never-ending oil spill that continues to rage un somewhere beneath the Gulf of Mexico. Our man’s particular black sludge was more metaphorical and didn’t post a necessary threat to the environment. While combating this metaphysical threat of his personal oil spill, he realized just how uncomfortable he felt. The seatbelt was a bit too tight, the seat in front was reclined a bit too far back, his own seat was too straight, his back and neck were straining, but for a fleeting moment, the brunette flight attendant distracted him from all these slight inconveniences.

“What?” He said, that black sludge had reached his ears and those tiny bones that reside within the canals so, at first, all he heard was muffled but judging by the face of the brunette flight attendant, he knew she was asking him a question.

“Would you like anything to drink?”

She spoke softly but not even the sound of the cabin pressurizing could cover up the softness of her vocal inflections. After taking a second too long to bask in her voice (which he unceremoniously passed off as time taken to contemplate the question in order to choose the correct refreshment), he finally replied to her query with a single, simple word.

“Coke.”

Now, such a response should’ve been followed by a “please,” at least, but our man had become preoccupied with the large mass in the ocean below once more. All his pleasantries had dissipated along with the vapor on the double-paned airplane windows.

“I always think the seaweed looks like remnants of Atlantis or something.” The brunette flight attendant was still there, in the airplane aisle, looking out the window along with our always-anxious man. Those who are constantly in their own heads tend to take a bit longer to react to things that occur in their vicinity, like the most reluctant tortoise.

“Huh?” He said. Again, the worst possible response for this particular situation but alas our man doesn’t have much tact. Even if the setting and situational conditions were optimal, he’d still struggle. Thankfully, the brunette flight attendant was blessed with more patience than most. I’m sure working as a flight attendant helped her gain valuable insight into the odd eccentricities of travelers from all over the globe.

“That stuff,” she sat next to him, “floating down there. I know it’s all seaweed or whatever but it just looks so, I don’t know, mythical? Mysterious?”

Our man, bamboozled and baffled, looked at the brunette flight attendant. His mouth agape, his eyes wide. Did he know he looked like a caricature of a comically surprised person? Probably not, to be honest. But it’s easy to imagine all the unnecessary thoughts that were flooding his mind. Mind you, reader, that seat had been empty since before the airplane took off in Miami Airport but our man’s armpits and brow had already begun to perspire. The brunette flight attendant noticed this almost immediately.

“Let me get you that coke,” she said, quickly leaving the empty seat.

Our man—let’s call him Eugene—was clearly perturbed by his current predicament. This is his first time being airborne, after all, you can’t blame the man for his present state of clamminess. Although air travel has been the chief method of transportation for centuries now, Eugene felt more comfortable in the nearly-always-vacant streetcars that weaved in and out of his city, like burrowing moles or monstrous worms. This particular trip, however, wasn’t one that could be made by traveling underground. Eugene had to take to the skies, as much as he disliked that notion. The giant beast below (along with the oil sludge) had subsided within Eugene’s mind. He was entering a state of dreamlike bliss. The pills that strange man on the train had given him had finally kicked in, and Eugene felt at ease. That is until he felt someone sitting down next to him again.

“Howdy!” He felt a loud, southern drawl ooze into his right ear canal, a feeling of which he wasn’t too particularly fond. “Couldn’t help but notice this seat was empty!” The voice was so loud, so obnoxious, that Eugene kept his eyes peeled to the window, gazing at the blue-green water thousands of miles below. If he ignored the southern voice, Eugene thought, it would ignore him. “I’m sure you don’t mind me sitting here, do ya, partner?” It was with that last word, partner, that Eugene knew there was no use in his inclination that ignoring an annoyance would lead said annoyance to disperse into nothingness. Eugene turned his head to face whoever decided to rescind his personal space but, to his surprise, there was no one there. The seat was as empty as Eugene’s apartment. He thought to himself about how curious the situation was and let his mind wander once more. His eyes naturally gravitated to the window once again.

For the uninitiated (a category in which Eugene fit nicely) the olovilactic prophylactic drug Rilmazafone tends to have a handful of unique side effects. These side effects affect are uniquely personal level which is to say no two individuals will experience the same side effects. Sure, they may be slightly similar but never identical. In fact, Rilazafan’s parent pharmaceutical company QuasiLabs Inc. led many studies in which twins, triplets, and even a handful of quadruplets ingested identical dosages of the drug. The results, as you might imagine, were incredibly absurd and obtuse. A handful of the participants went on to become illustrious authors, filmmakers, and sculptors. Others drove off bridges as soon as the test had concluded. QuasiLab Inc.’s findings were never published and the drug was discontinued immediately which did wonders for its popularity.

The flight attendant had returned with Eugene’s coke. She placed it on his armrest cupholder and handed him a short plastic cup with a few ice cubes inside. Eugene had never tasted a coke before but at the moment when the brunette flight attendant asked him if he wanted anything, an image of that classic Coke can had taken over his entire mind.

He looked up at the brunette flight attendant, smiled, and said “thank you, miss.”

“You’re welcome,” she said. She stood around in the aisle for a few moments. She clearly had something on her mind but didn’t seem too sure about how to put it into words. Finally, after sighing loudly, she asked, “mind if I sit here? I need to get away from the other flight attendants. They’re driving me nuts!”

Much to her surprise, Eugene nodded and gestured to the empty seat to his right. She sat down, sighed again, and looked at Eugene. She noticed how large and black and deep his pupils were (a sign of Rilazafan consumption but the brunette flight attendant was too innocent to have ever heard of such a drug, let alone its peculiar side effects.) She also noticed the thin sheen of sweat on Eugene’s pale face. To call him “clammy” would be an understatement. Although Eugene radiated unnaturally under the airplane lights, the brunette flight attendant felt her heart lunge in his direction with each heartbeat.

Featured Image Credit: Deep Dreamliner by Hayden Clay Williams is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

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