The Trouble with Flying

By: Rachel Morgan

“No.” I wave my book in his face. “I’d rather find out what happens to Jacinda and Max.” Wrong. I’d rather listen to Aiden’s delicious accent for the next several hours. But the thought of having to engage intelligently is too terrifying for me to indulge in that fantasy.

“That frivolous stuff?” He gestures to the hot pink cover of my book. “You’ve probably predicted the entire storyline already.”

“That’s not the point. I still like to read to the end to make sure I’m right. And to answer your question, no. I don’t use bookmarks. I remember the last page I was on.”

“That seems like a waste of brain space.”

“Maybe for you. I, on the other hand, have plenty of brain space.”

He watches me, and I get the feeling he’s trying not to laugh. He looks at his watch. “Ten minutes in,” he says. “You’re doing well. Only six hours and thirty-five minutes left.”

“No.” I hold up a hand. “That’s not happening.”

“It’s already happening, Sarah.” He takes the book off my lap and stuffs it into the pocket in front of him.

“Give that back.” My heart starts pounding at double speed. I reach across the empty seat to retrieve my safety blanket.

“Sarah, please.” He touches my arm, and as the floor shudders slightly beneath our feet, I see the uneasiness in his eyes. He isn’t making me talk simply to force me out of my comfort zone. He’s making me talk to distract himself from the flight.

I realise I’m being ridiculous. After one last glance at the book I don’t really want to read anyway, I pull my arm back slowly. I can do this. After all, Aiden already knows about my stupid fear, so if I blank in the middle of a conversation, he won’t think any worse of me than he already does.

“Okay,” I say slowly. “Um ...” Don’t be weird, don’t be weird, just be normal.

From the corner of my eye, I see the Fasten Seatbelt light blink off. Before I know it, I’m unclipping the straps across my lap. “I need to go to the toilet,” I blurt out, even though I went just before we boarded.

“Really? You need to go right now?” Aiden doesn’t move his legs. “We just took off.”

“Do you want me to pee on the seat?” I demand.

He narrows his eyes. “You don’t need to pee.”

“Fine, if you won’t let me past, then I’ll have to climb over you.” I raise my leg, but he moves both of his aside before I’m forced to embarrass myself by straddling him.

“You know you can’t hide in the bathroom for the entire flight, right?” he says loudly enough for the passengers across the aisle to give us an odd look.

I hurry away from him in the direction of the nearest toilet.

“Don’t be long,” he calls after me. “You have about three minutes before I have another panic attack.”

“Liar,” I mutter. The panic attack was probably fake. He’s probably been on a plane a hundred times before and this is his way of getting unsuspecting girls to fawn all over him.

I pull open the door of the first toilet I reach and squeeze myself into the tiny space. I shut the door and take a deep breath as I lean against it. “Don’t be weird, don’t be weird, just be normal,” I quietly instruct myself.

This isn’t the first time I’ve locked myself into a small room to give myself a few moments to remember that new people aren’t actually that scary and that I need to stop being so ridiculously shy. There was the day I started high school, and the day I started university, and the night before my first date with Matt …

Okay. Now is not the time to be thinking about Matt.

I push myself away from the door and stare at the mirror. Yuck. Aeroplane bathrooms officially have the worst lighting ever. Even a supermodel would feel ugly in here. I rub my hands over my face before leaning a little closer to my reflection. It could be the horrific lighting in here, but the brown eyes that peer back at me look a little red-rimmed. I guess I shed a lot more tears earlier than I planned to. My hair is flat, the glowing tan I worked so hard on before leaving South Africa has faded, and I’ve got no makeup on. Bottom line? Even if Aiden was a freak who faked panic attacks to pick up girls on aeroplanes—which I’m pretty sure he’s not—he’d have no reason to choose me.

Still, I’m the one he was unfortunate enough to sit next to, so if he needs me to distract him from the chasm of space between us and the ground, I’ll do it. It’ll be good for me.

I push back the sleeves of my hoodie—green with the words BOOK FREAK across the front—and wash my hands. After drying them, I try to fluff my hair up a bit so it looks less flat. All I manage to do is charge my head with static electricity.

Great. Now I look like a cartoon character who stuck her finger in an electrical socket.

After carefully smoothing my hair down, I head back to my seat. Every row I pass is full. Makes sense. We’re only ten days from Christmas; everyone’s flying around the world at this time of year.