Ray buckled himself into his seat. He always chose to be seated in the middle. For many frequent flyers that choice would be denounced and labeled the ‘sin of flying’. Who didn’t want to look out the window or have easy access to the aisle?
But Ray wasn’t like others. He enjoyed the comfort of being lodged between two strangers. The need to be cocooned might have arisen from his condemnable, single status. He was forty-three but still lived on his own.
No wife, no children, no girlfriends, no pets. Only a mother with a frustrated mind, and a loose and sharp tongue that cut him on a regular basis.
‘Ray, if you’re gay, God might forgive you, but I sure as hell won’t.’
‘Son, have you ever passed your seed on to anyone?’
‘Boy, if I knew you were afraid of women, I would’ve raised you like one.’
The plane should’ve taken off forty minutes ago, but the thunder showers had caused a delay. Ray glanced to his left and then to his right. A blonde-haired man and a gray-haired woman were his row partners.
Both were busy typing away on their phones. The perks of the virtual world. So much more inviting than the real one.
Ray had all that he needed. Safe and secure in the middle, he closed his eyes and dozed off.
The first, hard jerk made him wake up. Before he could realize what was happening, the sudden drop made him shout out in confusion.
‘I’m sorry, Mommy!’
Normally, someone would’ve sniggered at his outburst, but the turbulence had an overwhelming effect. Wide-eyed and silent, people waited for the worst.
Ray glanced out the window. The plane had taken off and was tearing through the storm clouds. A flash of lightning blinded him and as he rubbed his eyes, the jerks and drops intensified.
More than his stomach, his heart felt queasy. If this was the end, then what would be his parting words?
The pair came to him without thought. But who were they meant for?
For yourself, idiot!
His mind had taken his heart’s side, and both were ganging up on him.
When was the last time you stood up for yourself? Or even cared enough to protect your self-respect?
Ray knew the answer – Never!
The cries and panic grew as the plane bounced up and down. Ray prayed that he got a chance to rectify his past mistakes. The man and woman on either side of him sat with their eyes squeezed shut. Their phones no longer enticed them.
The fear of death could be a real eye-opener.
Then why were their eyes closed?
Ray chuckled at his own crooked thoughts and laughed till the tears came. He hugged himself and asked for forgiveness.
The plane stopped shaking and sunlight burst through the windows. Relieved voices and cheers replaced the dread of death.
Ray wiped his cheeks dry with his palms. He had an important phone call to make when he landed.
He’d tell his mother to shove her hurtful words up her pompous ass.