The Wait

For the first time in my life the plane ride was serene, which is kind of strange because we were flying in a rainstorm and couldn’t seem to land. It was around midnight and the sky was all black and wet, scattered with clouds like plumes of train smoke. No one but the pilot had spoken in hours. Put your tray tables up, he’d said (I thought briefly “what if I became one the few female captains”), and so we did. I had just finished my sad book, stared despondently at the cover for a while, wondered if I was capable of that much evil. I curled up into my seat like a little kid, watching the tributaries of rainwater split across the window, examining each peanut M&M before popping it into my mouth like they were something foreign — which they really kind of are (the majority of my life has been spent hating peanut M&Ms, until that one time I got stoned in the summertime and we rode through New Hampshire with the windows down and sang along to all of the songs). You are a brightly colored asteroid, I thought. You are an undiscovered mineral, you are the exoskeleton, you are the fossil left by the exoskeleton.

We had been circling over Boston for a half an hour: the plane dipping up and down, turning on its side to give us windowfuls of stars. The slender man behind me was pressing his gleaming head against the glass, a fringe of white hair glowing in the reading light. I pressed my head against my window too, and we were just inches apart like this, oh here’s the sky, oh there’s the ocean, we’re coming in for a landing, no, wooosh, back up we go. The stars blinked knowingly. I thought, if I just opened this window I could crawl out, and float down to you.

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