I’m settling into a window seat on a near empty plane when a young woman with a cloth backpack slides into the middle seat next to me. She chooses it over the empty aisle seat.
“You’re the first person I’ve ever met that likes an aisle,” I tell her glancing sideways. She nods and kind of grins.
“What do you like about it?”
Tears well up in her eyes.
“Are you afraid of flying?” I ask.
A woman wearing a low cut knit top and a baggy sweater plops into the aisle seat.
“I feel better with people around me,” she replies, sniffing back more tears.
I pat her shoulder lightly, reach into my carryon and hand her a tissue.
“Thanks,” she says and sighs.
After the drink service, the captain dims the cabin lights. I’m exhausted from days of being on at a writer’s conference. I turn my neck pillow around backward to keep my head from lolling as I snooze.
A blue LCD light beams into my eye lids. I open my eyes, and she’s re-reading an email on her phone. I can’t help but see part of the text: “…Parents in a car crash. In the hospital, in ICU. Dad probably won’t make it through the night. Get here.”
Makes me think of a similar email I received from my sister 15 years ago. My dad died before I could get to the hospital. The last time I saw him was a year prior. He stood in the front doorway wearing light blue pajamas waving goodbye to me.
I hope she gets to spend another father’s day with her dad.
As the plane begins to descend into San Diego, I reach into my bag and give her the whole pack of tissues. She has a long night ahead.