Lisa is breathing. Slow steady breaths. In, out, in, out; just like he told her to. Her hands grip the arm rests. Her eyes close. In her head she imagines a field, vast acres of green grass damp beneath her bare feet. She pushes her toes into the soil, allows the dirt to climb across the shallow contours of her clean skin. Her grip slowly loosens, her heart rate begins to slow, and then:
‘What are you doing here?’ The voice is sharp, jarring; cutting briskly through Lisa’s fabricated world.
Her eyes open. She swallows. ‘Jennifer?’ A woman stands above her, long arms stretched high as she swiftly despatches her holdall into the overhead locker. ‘I…uh…’
‘This is why Alex had to have Sam at the last minute, is it? So you could go off gallivanting on holiday?’ She checks her seat number, huffing loudly. ‘This is ridiculous.’
Lisa tightens her seat belt. ‘What is?’
Jennifer glares. ‘Eco-n-o-my,’ she says slowly, lowering her lean body into the seat next to Lisa. ‘Chloe was supposed to book me into business class.’ She waves a hand towards the curtain ahead of them. ‘But the stupid girl forgot.’
Lisa nods, her sideways glance taking in the flattering silk blouse beneath Jennifer’s perfectly ironed suit. She pulls her cardigan tighter around her.
‘So,’ Jennifer turns in her seat, ‘what are you doing here?’
‘I’m going to visit my brother. Didn’t Alex tell you?’
There’s a pause. The weighty ring around Jennifer’s wedding finger flashes as she raises a hand to her face. ‘No, he did not.’
‘Oh. Sorry.’ She lowers her head, a protective finger wrapping itself around the faint indentation on her own left hand. ‘I told him over a month ago. He said it would be fine to look after Sam for a couple of weeks.’
Jennifer grunts, returning to a forward position as she removes from her handbag a small selection of official-looking notebooks.
Lisa coughs. ‘You don’t mind, do you? Looking after Sam?’
Between the quick flicking of papers, Jennifer makes a small strangled noise, something between a squeak and a groan.
Lisa’s hands clench, her back stiffens. ‘You’re obviously not going to be around anyway, are you?’ she says lifting her head. ‘How long will you be away for this time?’
Jennifer’s eyes are on her in seconds. ‘What do you mean by that?’
She shrugs lightly, though it takes considerable effort. ‘Alex said you spend a lot of time working, that’s all.’
‘When did he say that?’
‘When I dropped Sam off this morning.’
There’s silence for a moment. Jennifer stares. ‘Talk a lot, do you?’
‘Well, we kind of have to. We do have a son together.’
Her eyes narrow, she says nothing. Then, abruptly, she returns to her books.
Lisa waits. When it’s clear the conversation is over, she sinks down into her chair and starts to breathe again.
- The Flight is a Tiny Tale in two parts! Keep your eyes peeled for Part 2 coming soon!!