This story came from two different places. A plot generator gave me airplane, traditional values and misguided, which made me think of this guy I once sat next to on a really long flight. Anyway, I’ve actually used the experience in story-form before, but this time it went into different directions (partly because I chose a completely different narrator to tell the story).
I’m not sure what I think of the result here. The ending is too abrupt and not properly foreshadowed. If I were to expand on this, I would have to give the narrator some proper backstory to explain his thoughts and reactions.
He settled down into his seat, slowly making minute adjustments, tucking the small, questionable pillow behind his back and slipping his own magazines into the pocket on the back of the seat in front of him. Earphones on his lap beside his mp3 player. He felt ready.
He looked up with an expression of annoyance already on his face. It was a younger man with an untidy bag and an untucked shirt.
“I guess this is my seat.”
He sighed deeply but tried not to let it show.
There was much rummaging around and banging about as the other man got himself settled.
“So, where are you going?”
The older man considered the younger. What was there to say? He did not want to being a conversation of any sort, but his natural sense of politeness was too much to overcome.
“Just this flight then? You’re darn lucky, you are.”
“I’m off to Kiev, I am.”
“I’ve heard it is lovely.”
“Yeah. Never been there before. But I’m going to see my girlfriend.”
“Well, that should be a nice time, then.”
The older man said this firmly, trying to infuse his words with a sense of finality.
“I hope so. I really hope it all goes well.”
The younger man spoke with some nervousness that the older chose to ignore. Fortunately, two flight attendants were standing at the front of their section now, beginning the safety mime while a video with the details played on the individual screens.
The older man closed his eyes as they began to taxi, hoping the younger would take the hint and let him be. Without intending to, he fell asleep and did not wake until an hour or so into the flight.
Unfortunately, as soon as his eyes were open, his unasked for companion noticed and picked up where he had left off.
“Good nap? I wish I could sleep on planes. I’m a bit too nervous for it.”
The older man noticed the drink clutched in the younger man’s hand. It probably wasn’t just Coke.
“I’m nervous about meeting Katia, too.”
“Katia?” The older man asked without thinking.
“My girlfriend. We haven’t met in person properly like, yet. I met her on the internet. A friend told me about it, how you could find women who were looking for a good strong man.”
“My friend met a woman. She’s his wife now. And that’s how I met Katia. I’m going to meet her. And her parents too. I’m real excited, but like I said, a bit nervous as well.”
“What if she doesn’t like me? Yeah. That would be a real let-down.”
“But I want a nice, traditional girl, not one of these modern women with a career and too busy to have babies. I want a girl like my mom. I live with my mom, nobody like her.”
The older man was both fascinated and repelled. He couldn’t imagine how this was going to work out. Maybe Katia was looking for a man like this. Probably not, but she would probably settle.
The conversation continued as the miles ticked away. The younger man described Katia (and even dug out a photo of her, a pretty yet bland face with a shy smile, she looked all of eighteen) and explained how he wanted to bring her ‘home’. He talked about his job, working with computers and his hobbies, role playing games. The older man gave up and listened.
The plane was landing and it was with great relief that the older man turned to his erstwhile companion to say good-bye.
“I hope things work out for you.”
“Thanks. I’m sure they will.”
As the older man got him and joined the queue in the aisle of the plane he realized that he really had meant that. Maybe there was something to what the younger man was doing. Heck, maybe he should try it himself.