The Trouble with Flying

By: Rachel Morgan


I laugh. “It would. We should start a petition for larger aeroplane cups.”

“Yes. Right after I figure out where my blanket is. Where’d you get yours from?”

“It was on my chair when I got here.”

“Which means I’m probably sitting on mine.” Aiden reaches beneath his butt—don’t think about his butt!—and pulls out an aeroplane pillow.

“How did you not know you were sitting on that?” I ask.

“Is this what they call a pillow?”

“I’m afraid it is.”

“Ridiculous. How is anyone supposed to get a good night’s sleep on this pincushion? I should have bought one of those blow-up pillows that wrap around your neck.”

“Are you planning to sleep now?” I try to keep the disappointment out of my voice. I’m tired, but—as insane as it is for me to admit this—I’d rather stay awake and talk to Aiden.

“After that turbulence?” Aiden shakes his head as he pulls his blanket out from beneath him. “Not a chance. However,” he adds, “if I’m about to die, perhaps it would be better if I didn’t know it was coming.”

“We’re not about to die.”

Aiden drapes his blanket over his legs and pulls it up to his lap. It’s exactly what most people do when they’re flying overnight, but somehow it looks cuter on him. Like he’s all ready for bed now. “If we were about to die, though,” he says, “what’s one thing you wouldn’t miss?”

“Hmm.” I wrap my arms around my knees and pull them closer. “Going back to varsity. I’m not too excited about that.”

“Which one are you at?”

I give him a sideways look. “Not the one you’re thinking of.”

“How do you know which one I’m thinking of?”

“Because people from other countries only ever know about one South African university.”

He hesitates before saying, “Okay. Guilty as charged. I only know the Cape Town one.”

“Exactly.”

“So you don’t go there?”

“Nope.” The prospect of travelling across the country to study at a massive university with thousands of people I don’t know was just a little too terrifying for me. I opted for the small campus an hour away from home and the tiny garden flat in my mom’s old school friend’s back garden. And it didn’t hurt that Matt had already chosen to go there …

Get out of my head, Matt!

I blink and find Aiden watching me. “What?”

“Just waiting to see if you’ll carry on talking if I don’t ask you anything else.”

The dreaded blush creeps up my neck again. “Okay, you see? This is the problem. I want to keep talking to you, but any time it’s my turn to bring up a new topic of conversation, my brain can’t seem to pick anything.”

“So ask me a question.”

Right. That’s the normal thing to do. You get to know people by asking them questions. If I could stop being so self-conscious, maybe I’d remember that. “Um … tell me three random things about yourself.”

“That’s not exactly a question.”

“I know. But right now my brain is stuck at ‘What don’t you like to eat’ and ‘How many siblings do you have,’ both of which are super boring. So I’m trusting you’ll come up with something more interesting than that.”

Aiden puts both hands behind his head and stares at the seat in front of him. “Uh, okay. One, the best Christmas present I ever got was a pair of rollerblades. I spent every day after school going up and down the road outside our house until my mom confiscated them so I’d do my homework. Two, I wanted to be a magician when I was growing up. And three, I think happily ever afters are a myth.” He twists his head to look at me. “And in answer to your boring questions, I don’t eat fish and I have one older sister. Your turn.”

“Wait.” I hold my hand up. “Why are happily ever afters a myth?”

He shrugs. “They just are. Now you tell me your random three things.”

I want to prod further, find out why exactly he doesn’t believe this ‘myth.’ But I’m too scared to push in case this is an off-limits topic for him. If that were the case, though, he wouldn’t have brought it up, would he?

“Sarah?”

“Um, right.” I chicken out. “My three things are … One, I’m addicted to zoo biscuits. Two, I used to act out stories to my friends using Barbie dolls as the main characters. And three, my older sister is a talented photographer, my younger sister is an amazing artist, and I don’t have a creative bone in my body.”

“You don’t?” Aiden looks pointedly at the empty seat between us. “I think the businesswoman who missed her flight because she discovered her supernatural abilities and was invited to join a secret organisation of superheroes would disagree.”

I shake my head. “That’s not the same thing. Silly stories don’t count. You should see what my sisters can do. Julia’s won awards with her photographs, and Sophie’s art is so incredible she has thousands of fans on Facebook, some of whom buy her work from her. She’s only fifteen! And here I am, the unremarkable middle daughter whom no one ever remembers.”