The Trouble with Flying

By: Rachel Morgan


Sarah doesn’t talk to strangers, but the cute guy sitting next to her on the plane might have to be the exception. Hours of random conversation later, Sarah thinks Aiden could be her happily ever after. The problem is, he’s gone now—and she has no idea how to find him.

For all the shy people.

I don’t make friends on aeroplanes. I know there are people who like to strike up a conversation with the complete stranger sitting next to them, but that’s not me. It’s not that I’m an unfriendly person. It’s more the fact that the conversation centre of my brain seems to seize up in the presence of strangers, and I can’t for the life of me figure out what to say. And even if the other person is happy to simply babble on while I pretend to be interested, I’d rather be doing something else. Like reading. Or watching a movie. Or trying to figure out how to stop crying.

Yes. Crying. Because if being shy and awkward isn’t enough, today I’m adding red eyes, tears, and suppressed sobs to the embarrassing mix.

I stare out the oval window at the patches of reflected light on the wet runway and silently ask God to leave the seat next to me empty. I can’t deal with a chatty neighbour right now. I’d rather watch the black sky and incessant rain until we reach cruising altitude. Then I’ll close my eyes and let sleep take the pain away.

Oh, STOP IT. It’s not like someone died.

I wiggle around a bit in my seat and sniff, trying to listen to my inner pep-talk voice. Think of the good things, I tell myself. I’m on my way home. I’m leaving behind the dreary, wet weather for a sunny, summer climate. That, at least, should make me happy. But thinking about home leads to thoughts of who I’m flying towards, and that only makes my stomach twist further.

I hear the sound of a bag being dumped onto the seat at the end of my row. There are only three seats between the window and the aisle—mine and two others—so there’s a fifty-fifty chance this person is about to plonk him or herself down right next to me.

I angle myself more towards the window and swipe my fingers beneath my eyes. I start the furious tear-banishing blinking. Stop crying, stop crying, stop crying. All I need now is for someone to see my blotchy, wet face and start asking me what’s wrong.

Someone settles into a seat. I don’t feel movement right beside me, though, so it must be the aisle seat. Fantastic. I send up a quick thank-you prayer and remind God that it would be spectacularly awesome if He could keep the seat next to me empty.

A tickle inside my left nostril alerts me to the fact that my nose is dribbling. I sniff, but it doesn’t help. Crap, where are my tissues? I lean forward and reach down by my feet for my handbag. Brown strands of hair fall in front of my face and block my vision, but if I can just get the zip open and feel past my purse to the tissues—

No. Too late. Now it’s trickling down my lip and I’m digging around in the bag and I can’t feel the stupid tissues and a drop of tear snot just landed on my hand and yuck! I haul the ridiculous handbag—I told Jules I didn’t need something so big—onto my lap with one hand while holding the back of my other hand to my nose. And there the tissues are. Right next to my purse. Practically mocking me. I rip one from the packet and jam it against my nose to stop the tear-snot flood.

And that’s when I catch a glimpse of the guy sitting in the aisle seat. A quick sideways glimpse, but enough to tell me he’s cute. Excellent cheekbones, a strong jawline, and perfectly messy dark brown hair. Terrific. My nose is dripping snot in front of a cute guy. Not that I should care that he’s cute, or that he’s a guy, because it’s not like I’m going to talk to him, and it’s not like I’m even available—am I? I don’t actually know. And thinking about that makes me want to cry all over again—but STILL. I don’t want to look blotchy and snotty in front of a cute guy.

I turn back to the window because I’m going to have to blow my nose now, and I hate doing that in front of other people. Such revolting noises. I take a deep breath and go for it, cringing at how loud it sounds. I grab another tissue and finish cleaning up my face, then find an empty side pocket on my handbag to stuff the wadded tissues into. Gross. I wish I’d stocked up on waterless hand sanitiser after I finished my last bottle.

I drop my handbag onto the floor and straighten. From the corner of my eye, I take a peek at the cute guy, half expecting to find him giving me a disgusted look. I needn’t have worried. He’s holding the two halves of the seatbelt in his hands and staring at them as if he’s never seen a contraption like it before. He pushes the two metal pieces together, and a satisfied half-smile appears on his face when the buckle remains fastened. Weird. Perhaps this guy is a little … slow. Hopefully that means he won’t be interested in chatting.

More passengers squeeze along the aisles; tired parents try to get overexcited children to sit down; businessmen remove their laptops before sliding their bags into the overhead storage compartments. I pull my book from the seat pocket in front of me. I put it there as soon as I found my seat earlier so I’d be ready to act as if I’m reading the moment someone sits down next to me. I open up to the last page I read and try to focus on the story—a sweet, predictable romance meant to distract me from my own messy love life—but the cute guy in the aisle seat keeps shifting around, and I can’t help wondering what’s wrong with him.