“At least a litre in milk has gone to that man,” said Samuel, leaning over. He pointed at the passenger frowning at the passing water. Imogen knew already; she had been tracking everyone’s odd flight habits with keen interest; even those without habits she had kept tabs on, as though their normalcy were red flags for some hidden deviancy, or noteworthy idiosyncrasies in themselves. She liked normal people, and she considered the milk man one of the normal ones somehow, despite his drinking several glasses of milk. Even with his policeman’s moustache he had managed sip after sip to keep his face clean—he was a very clean person. He didn’t like milk on his face the way Imogen didn’t like abnormal people with their strange habits dirtying up the ambiance.
“I could go for a glass actually,” said her husband, “but I don’t want to look like a copycat.” He eyed the stewardess chatting at the end of the aisle by the bathroom. The talk of milk had gotten Samuel on a stream somewhere—elsewhere—Imogen could sense that too: body parts; secrecy; bedsheets; hair smooth, lightly aromatic and unbundled, let loose; hands and fingers. The stewardess felt at a breast—unconscious, some malady. The game had ended and Samuel took his eyes on a tour back around the cabin, the ceiling, the air louvre he now reached and touched without actually adjusting. The plane lurched downward and the cabin let out a collective gasp. Imogen’s head spun.
“Better buckle up,” said Samuel just as the seatbelt lights came on. The huddle by the toilets dispersed, the stewardesses sitting and fastening their own seatbelts. Imogen wanted the plane to crash. She didn’t like waking up in the morning. She and Samuel lived on a farm; it wasn’t easy. One had to wake up very early in the morning. She hated the screams of the pigs in the piggery; it grated her and made things sour, veritably sour and dark. And besides that she felt very soft, see-through some times, like an old worn-out sock, though she wasn’t old. It was exciting to think that she would be the star in some drama—would be named among them, would be wept for. She liked thinking about other people’s lives, and regretted that she had only her own, and that it was minuscule and predictable. She had read in a sci-fi magazine that airplanes when entering certain invisible fields could disappear—the passengers would with the plane be lost into the velvet folds of the planet’s natural magnetic equivoque—places, junctures in the origami of the earth’s energetic grid where the math was not complete and people were liable, as in Bermuda, as in Iwo Jima, as in certain locations in Canada, Tibet and Hawaii, to find themselves in another place altogether. She liked stories like that, because the uncertainty kept her going.
Samuel kissed her on the cheek, surprising her. “Look,” he said, pointing at the window. “We’re here.”