Another plane takes off.
Jeffrey’s ready to go. He looks the part. With his suitcase standing next to him, in a tweedy jacket, with a scarf around his neck, a small carry-on bag and a camera. The sky behind us, through the massive windows, has gone a peachy, saccharine colour. It reminds me of pink lip gloss, and sunlight through a glass of brandy. Low clouds add a feathery texture.
I don’t want him to leave.
Jeffrey leans down and kisses me softly. It’s one of those kisses that could form a memory. But I don’t want it to be: those kinds of memories are of things that are gone, lost. A kiss worthy of remembering as a last kiss. And I never want that. What I want to do, what I want with at least five sixth of my soul, is just to cling to him, just throw myself into his arms, bury myself in him and refuse to let him untangle himself.
“It’s all right,” he’s saying, ‘it’ll only be two months.”
“And it’s not like those barbaric old days before there was such a thing as Facebook or Skype. Constant contact. I swear.”
I look back towards the sky.
“Hey, I’ll be fine.”
And sure, there’s no way he’s going to be able to drive to California. Of course, of course, he has to get on the plane. I do know. I feel tears prickling at my eyes, I feel my hands tremble just a little.
“Hey, I know how you feel about planes. But I promise you it’s safe. I’ll be safer up there than you are down here.”
I give him the wan smile he wants. “I think I’ll survive.”
“Of course,” he wraps such welcome arms around me. “Darling: I’ll be fine too. And I’ll be good. And I’ll be back with you in no time.”
Rapturous homecomings. The classic running embrace. His hot cheek against mine. The ride home. The intimate dinner. The comfort of having his companionship, the shape of him on the other side of the bed. All that, I tell myself, to look forward to.
But you see. I have this dream sometimes. It’s always a plane. And I always see Jeffrey walking towards it, getting on it, walking up those wheely-steps and waving to me as he steps inside. Always that image, always gilded, always deepened with shadows.
But when the plane takes off there’s smoke. And then fire. The explosion takes up the whole sky. There’s screaming in my ears, only some of it’s mine. The rest comes from all directions at once. And running feet. And sirens.
The window is cracked. Gold trickles through it.
Now, I don’t know which plane this is. I don’t know when. I just know this dreamscape comes at me, so many nights. I know that one plane, one day, any plane, could be the one.
I just don’t know which plane, which day.
Boarding now. Flight 1288 to Los Angeles.
“That’s my cue.”
You could still… it’s too late to be saying to him don’t go. And this conference, it’s a great opportunity. It would be wrong and selfish of me to hold him back just because of this dream, my insecurities.
He doesn’t believe me: true dreams. “Darling, it’s just your subconscious arranging things. Taking things out of your life and twisting them around a bit. Your brain just doing embroidery.”
He doesn’t believe me. But I do believe myself. I’ve been wrong before. But just enough right… enough times… And the dreams are more real, the colours deeper; there’s sound and smell and taste, the heat is real, and the vibrations. I can feel my own tears on my cheeks.
“I’ll be there in twelve hours,” he tells me. “I’ll call you as soon as.”
“I’ll be waiting.”
“And I love you.”
“I love you too.”
I sit on the plastic seat, hands scrunched up in my lap. I watch, chest aching, as the plane taxies, as it takes a run-up and leaps into the sky. I wait for the explosion. Only when the plane is gone, lost amongst the sunset, when the sky is bare, when there’s been no fireball, only then I can get up and walk away. Safe. I think. At least until next time.
Picture credit/discredit: author's own work