The Trouble with Flying

By: Rachel Morgan

I squeeze past Aiden’s legs and slide into my seat as he says, “You’re just in time. I could feel the heart palpitations getting ready to attack me.”

I roll my eyes. “You can tell your heart palpitations to save their energy for when the turbulence comes. Then they’ll have something to get excited about.”

Aiden’s eyes widen ever so slightly.

“Um, I mean, turbulence isn’t that bad.” I tug my sleeves down over my hands—one of my nervous habits—as I look around, hoping the plane will provide me with inspiration. “Why do you think this seat is empty?” I say, gesturing to the open spot between us.

He raises an eyebrow. “Um, because no one booked it?”

“Every other row I passed is full. I’ve never flown at this time of year and had an empty seat next to me. I’m sure someone must have booked it.”

“Maybe it was a businessman who finished a meeting late,” Aiden suggests, “and then got stuck in rush-hour traffic and couldn’t get to the airport on time.”

“Maybe. That sounds a little boring, though.”

Aiden raises an eyebrow. “Okay. Perhaps the businessman decided to take a taxi instead of the Tube because he had a big suitcase with him, but the taxi broke down.”

“And as he stood on the side of the road trying to hail another taxi, he was abducted by aliens who took him to a parallel dimension.”

Aiden’s eyebrows climb a little higher. “Or maybe he managed to make it to the airport just in time, but as he was running, he tripped over an old lady’s walking stick, knocked himself unconscious on the floor, and didn’t hear the airport announcer person calling his name.”

“And no one stopped to help him because a sneaky alien security guard dragged him into a private corridor to start experimenting on him.”

Aiden shakes his head and laughs. “Why do there have to be aliens in this story?”

“Because that makes it more interesting. Why does the main character have to be a man?”

“Okay, it was a businesswoman. She got to the airport early, so she went to one of the restaurants to get dinner. She met a good-looking guy, started chatting, and didn’t realise how fast the time went by—”

“Because her watch stopped working due to her latent supernatural ability that began to reveal itself a few days ago.” I lean a little closer as my mind races ahead, filling in fantastical details. “And it wasn’t a coincidence that the good-looking guy met her at the restaurant. He was waiting for her so he could tell her about the secret organisation of superheroes her father was a part of before he died. And now that her abilities are revealing themselves, she’s been invited to join the organisation. So that’s where she went instead of getting on the plane.”

Aiden stares blankly at me for several seconds, then shrugs. “Okay, we can go with that. It’s far more exciting than any of my theories.”

I give him a shy smile as heat crawls up my neck. Most people I know roll their eyes at me when I start making up stories, so it’s a nice change to have someone call them ‘exciting’—even if what he’s thinking may be entirely different.

Just as the silence between us starts to reach awkward point, Aiden says, “So, you’re a sci-fi and fantasy fan? I thought at first you were more into the romantic chick stuff.” He gestures towards the seat pocket in front of him where the top of my pink book is sticking out.

“Oh, no, not really. That’s my sister’s book. I took two of my own books with me, but I finished them faster than I thought I would. They were both paranormal-type stories.”

“Do you think all that stuff is real?” Aiden asks. “Parallel dimensions and supernatural abilities and all that.”

I narrow my eyes. Is he making fun of me?

“What? It’s a genuine question,” he says. “You believe in God, so maybe you believe in all things fantastical.”

“And you don’t.”

He shrugs. “I’m a scientist. I don’t need an entity I can’t see, hear, or touch if science and logic can explain everything for me.”

“Not everything,” I say as I twist my sleeves around my fingers. “And life isn’t always about things you can see or hear or touch. Sometimes it’s more than that.”

Aiden leans across the empty seat and lowers his voice. “Like the feeling of security that settles over you when your guardian angel is nearby, brandishing a flaming, supernatural sword and fighting off the demons that threaten to steal your soul.”

I stick my tongue out and push him back into his seat.

Laughing, he says, “You see? You’re not the only one who can make up fantasy stories.”

“Not all fantasy stories are made up,” I tell him. “And maybe the one you just joked about is truer than you think it is.”

He spreads his arms out, palm up. “Show me the angel with the flaming sword, and I’ll be happy to believe. Until then, I’ll stick with my science.”

“Science doesn’t rule out a higher being,” I argue, aware somewhere at the back of my mind that I’m in the middle of an intelligent conversation with someone I barely know and I haven’t blanked yet! “I’m a scientist too, and learning about all the intricate workings of the universe and its inhabitants only makes me believe in God even more.”