The Plane — A short anecdote/Story

yousef alfuhigi — Unsplash

All that was standing in the way was me and the plane.

It’s been a month of preparation. Mentally prepared. I was ready.

I hope.

It’s been a long time coming. Oh boy, here we go.

I’m not ready for a trip, and I wasn’t exactly jumping at the chance to step out and try something new. You could call me set in old ways or just straight up old. But I liked the familiarity of waking up in the same bed and doing the same things every day.

But Timmy scored phenomenally, and who is a father to go back on their word to promise their son to see Mount Fuji? Most kids would want a new console, why does mine need to be so adventurous? Oh well.

People have been bugging me for years to get out of the country and “live a little”. I always put it off, but with Timmy on holiday and all, I really couldn’t squirm my way out of this one any longer.

I did say I wanted to spend more time with Timmy. He always was a bright student, but with work and all, I couldn’t keep as close an eye on him as I’d like. He’d ask for help on math questions or tell a story about his friends once in a while, but those were few and far between. Strengthen our bond and stuff. That’s what all those articles and books online always say, right? Reconnect with your children.

Cmon. Do it for Timmy if anything. It’s just a plane.

I took a deep breath. Just 12 hours and it’ll all be over. I began to walk down the twisting connector that brought me from the familiar air conditioning of the airport towards the metal bird that would be the only thing standing between me and thousands of feet of nothing.

I was not ready.

Braden Collum — Unsplash

A tug on my sleeve snapped me out of it, and I looked down to see my son looking excitedly towards the entrance of the plane and back to me.

“What is it, champ?”

“I’m excited, Dad, my very first plane trip!”

I ruffled his hair affectionately. “Of course you’d be excited, now c’mon!”

A smiling stewardess greeted us warmly and guided us to our seats.

The overhead compartment was a tad bit cramped as I tried shoving our luggage and bags in, stressing the entire time that at any moment the luggage would crack open and dump loads of our clothes all over the other passengers.

After an unnecessarily traumatic baggage loading, I collapsed onto the chair and only then realized I was holding my breath the entire time.

Bambi Corro — Unsplash

Settling in, I noticed the uncomfortably limited legroom and even had to jostle with my neighbour to get any armrest.

Our neighbouring passenger was a grizzled looking man, who appeared to be in his early 50’s, and he took a fond interest in my son who quickly caught on and reciprocated.

“Hey there, sport. First time on a plane, eh?”

“Yup! What about you mister?”

The man grinned as if he was waiting for the question.

“Aw shucks, me? I’ve travelled far and wide, yessiree. Let me tell ya a story. I was at the bottom of the Mariana Trench…”

Watching as my starry-eyed son took in all the tall tales this guy spun, I decided to pay them no heed. I had much more pressing matters at hand.

I couldn’t stop shaking as the pilot began instructing us to buckle our seatbelts.

I fumbled with trembling hands, and it sure as hell wasn’t just the cold air blasting into my thin t-shirt.

The man poked his nose toward me.

“From the looks of things, it seems it’s your first time too!”

I continued making a fool of myself trying to connect the buckle before giving up.

“…what gave it away?”

“Well, you’re dressed in jeans. I don’t speak for everyone, but when we’re in it for the long haul, we dress comfortably.”

He pulled out a Snickers bar, “Want one?”
“Wait, they let you have that?”
“No,” he popped one into his mouth. “I smuggled it.” He grinned mischievously

Oh no

“Well, uhh should I be concerned about anything… else you might be smuggling?” I paused. “Look, man, I have a kid…”

“Relax man damn, don’t get your feathers all ruffled. We haven’t even taken off yet. Speaking of which…”

G-force slammed into me as I got shoved into my seat. I could almost imagine my mouth flapping wildly as the plane thrust into high gear, and I felt terrifying weightlessness as the wheels separated from the runway into the vast sky above. Everything was a blur, and at one point as we barrelled through the clouds with no vision at ludicrous speeds, I hate to admit it, but I got a little panicky.

Timmy gripped my hand a little tighter as we ascended, and I gave him an adventurous look that betrayed the sheer terror I felt as we continued climbing at an angle.

After the initial climb, I began to relax, watching the small lights below grow more modest, and slowly fade altogether.

Gerrie van der Walt — Unsplash

A little while later, I watched as the stewardess rolled the trolley down the claustrophobic aisle with the clattering of wine glasses and cans noisily. She started to hand out soft drinks, orange juice and other beverages.

Free To Use Sounds — Unsplash

“Dad, can I have a coke?”

The man next to us grinned. “Hey kid, I got some coke.”

I narrowed my eyes. “What kind of coke?”

He glanced sideways at me exasperatedly.

“Hey don’t roll your eyes at me I just gotta be sure.”

He pulled out a diet coke and pointed at it,

“Oh, ok. Thanks” I muttered.

Timmy grabbed a little too enthusiastically at the can, and I slumped back in my seat. It might not seem like it right now, but I was just too exhausted. Months of preparation ahead and it was all happening at once. I just needed to take a breather.

Heavy eyelids and a shake from Timmy later, I found myself groggily covered in poorly imitated woollen blankets. I must have fallen asleep from all the stress. I ached all over.

Those chairs were not very comfortable for my sleeping posture, that was for sure.

Yawning at the dark clouds pattering the sky outside, everything seemed peaceful and quiet. The inside of the plane was an ambient shade of grey, and most of the overhead lights were out like the passengers they hung over.

Ethan Hu — Unsplash

The quiet rattling of trolley wheels preceded the serving of our meals. Warm but bland. I could taste the lack of taste just by looking at it. Steam enticingly waffling out of my “curry chicken rice”, I took a ravenous bite and quickly brought my spoon back in for a second, more disappointed helping.

I couldn’t help but turn a shade of green as the man pulled out another Snickers bar. Unhealthy as it may be, it sure looked yummy.

Pooja Chaudhary — Unsplash

He graciously offered me one, joking I should bring some for the next journey.

Next one? I scoffed internally. Hell if I’m ever boarding a plane again!

Granted, I could have packed in advance.

We were slated to land soon, so I got up for the first time to reach the toilet. If I were less groggy, maybe I would have been paranoid of jostling through the many outreached hands of the passengers that locked the aisle into a veritable maze of sorts, trying to evade and dodge them all while they slumbered the night away.

Snoring passengers, drooling kids grabbing at me and, was that a dog barking at me?

I think I need more sleep.

Paul Bienek — Unsplash

I woke up one last time to the sky falling all around us.

The plane began to shake violently, the dusk just outside the thin veil of the window falling rapidly. I couldn’t see anything. The pilot warned of turbulence as we tumbled downwards full throttle.

My hands gripped the hand rests hard, teeth clenched and eyes squeezed shut.

This isn’t happening. This isn’t happening. This isn’t happening.

“Hey Dad, it’s over.”

Tom Barrett — Unsplash

I pried open my eyes to Timmy bouncing up and down the aisle. Exiting the plane in a short scuffle, I walked through the same but different connector winding towards the airport.

Then we reached the window.

The hopelessly claustrophobic plane suddenly opened up to a vast and surreal skyline filled with towering mountains shrouded in a fog of excitement.

We made it to Japan

Manuel Cosentino — Unsplash

As we walked towards the airport, looking back at the plane I just spent over 12 hours on, I couldn’t help but be welled with a sense of inexplicable happiness. Maybe all that was worth it after all.

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