FLIGHT OF FANCY
FLIGHT OF FANCY
'Right then hun, I really need to head off now,' said Emma, throwing her arms around her friend, 'remember what I always say.'
'Yeah yeah, things always work out in the end for nice girls,' Kristin replied in a mocking voice.
Emma gave her a stern look. 'It's true you know, they always do.'
Kristin tilted her head back and blinked.
'Sorry,' she said, 'it's just, well it's hard to think like that at the moment.'
'I know,' said Emma, 'but you'll get there, I know you will. A few weeks of snow and your mum's meatballs, it'll be like Mike and the last few years never happened.'
'I hope you're right.' said Kristin wiping away a tear. 'I'm gonna miss you, you know.'
'And I'll miss you too.' Emma got a tissue out of her bag. 'Here, wipe your face woman. You've got mascara everywhere.'
'God, don't know where that came from. You and your everything will be all right speech. You always get me when you go all serious.' said Kristin blowing her nose, 'why couldn't you just say something rude like you usually do?'
Emma laughed. 'Look after yourself hun, fly safely and text me when you land.'
Kristin watched her friend walking off. Emma turned around and waved. A huge grin appeared across her face.
'Big fat hairy bollocks,' she shouted.
And with that she disappeared into the crowd.
Kristin stood still wondering whether to laugh or run. Realising people were staring at her, she turned around and smiled sheepishly at the man behind her in the check-in queue. He looked her straight in the eye and shook his head.
'Wow,' thought Kristin, 'that's a bit much.'
Two hours later she boarded the flight. She closed her eyes as she sank into her seat.
Soon she would be in the air and on her way home. Home to the land of the Trolls, and indeed her mum's meatballs. Far away from Mike and his three bloody bottles a night.
She woke up feeling a little confused. The air stewardess was standing over her smiling, offering refreshments. Kristin sat up and rubbed her eyes.
'Can I have a white wine please. And a mineral water.'
She wondered how long she had been asleep for. She couldn't even recollect the take-off.
The man next to her ordered a red wine, a beer and a brandy.
Kristin's heart sank when she recognised him from check-in. It was the head-shaker himself. She hadn't noticed him when she boarded. She must have fallen asleep as soon as she sat down.
He pointed to his drinks smiling awkwardly.
'I get nervous on flights,' he said, 'you never know what could happen.'
'Believe me,' she replied, 'considering what I've been through this last year, we could go into the ground like a dart and it'd be an improvement.'
She regretted her comment instantly.
'Oh God, don't talk like that,' he said letting out a short whistle.
'Mind you, a good story might just take my mind off this nightmare.'
'The story's not that good,' she stated flatly. 'It's too long, and I've told it too many times. Let's just say things can only get better and leave it at that, eh?'
Kristin wasn't in the mood for pouring her heart out to a complete stranger. Especially not this one.
'That's quite all right,' he said, 'I'm Tom by the way, and I'm sorry if I seemed a little off down there at check-in. It's not your fault that your friend's rude.'
He flashed a perfect set of teeth at her.
She studied him for a few seconds. It was impossible to tell if he was joking.
'I'm Kristin,' she said softening a little, 'so you don't have any rude friends then? Or say the odd swear word now and then?'
'Of course I swear,' he said, 'just not that loudly. Or publicly come to think of it. And to be honest, it sounds so much worse coming from a woman.'
Judging by the size of his grin, Kristin concluded he was joking with her.
'Oh dear, 'anti-rude and sexist.' She managed a little laugh.
'Can we change the subject now?' Tom asked.
'Think that might be a good idea.' Kristin relaxed. She never could hold a grudge.
'So, Tom, why are you heading for Bergen?'
He took a sip of his wine and turned to face her.
'I start work there in January.'
Ah, and what do you do?' Kristin asked.
'I teach. Music and arts. I've got a one-year contract with the International School.'
'At Landas? Lovely. I visited there with my English study group in high school. A long time ago mind you.'
'Hang on a minute,' Tom said, 'you mean to say you went to high school in Bergen?'
He looked puzzled.
'Jaaa.' she replied.
'I don't believe that, you sound so English. I couldn't quite place your accent, but I certainly wouldn't have said foreign.' Tom seemed genuinely surprised.
Kristin smiled. She was used to this reaction. After fifteen years in England she had long since lost her accent. And Mike's fondness for pointing out her faults had helped too. Ironed out a few language creases at least.
'So where do you live now?' Tom asked.
'I'm on the move. Going back home to my parents' for a while. Until I get myself sorted.'
Kristin sighed quietly. She was actually a little embarrassed about her situation. Moving back home at her age made her feel like she had failed in some way. She looked at her hands. There was a white mark on the finger where her wedding band used to be. It looked bare. She rubbed it with her right thumb as if to familiarise herself with a new sensation. It would take a bit of getting used to. Like everything else.
Tom noticed Kristin's eyes darkening. The same eyes that had been laughing a minute ago. He wondered about her story. There was definitely a man involved somewhere. There always was. He thought it best not to ask any questions. Still, something about her made him want to know her better. And he certainly didn't want her to feel sad. On impulse he put his hand on her knee and shook it gently.
The touch startled her a little. She looked down. His hand was big and strong and it felt warm.
Right at that moment the man in front of Tom pushed his seat back into a reclining position. Tom 's selection of drinks wobbled on the little folding table. He grabbed the beer can just in time, but the red wine bottle went flying. It landed in Kristin's lap and spilt all over her jeans.
'Shit', Tom exclaimed, 'I'm so sorry.'
'Hey, not your fault that you're sitting behind a space-greedy idiot,' Kristin was annoyed.
This was one of her few pet hates in life. There was little enough space as it was on these budget airlines. Why some people decided they deserved more room than others was a mystery to Kristin. She said so to Tom. Quite loudly too hoping the culprit in row ten would get the message.
'Ha, I couldn't agree more, 'Tom laughed, 'I've never ever pushed my seat back on a flight for that very reason.'
He stood up and asked the man in front if he would be so kind as to raise his seat while they tidied up the spillage behind him.
The air stewardess arrived with a box of tissues. She looked at Kristin's jeans.
'Ouch,' she said, 'red wine is hard to get out. I'll go and get some salt.'
She returned with a handful of airline sachets.
With her jeans wet and sticky from the wine and now also covered in salt, Kristin felt quite uncomfortable. But for some reason she was more relaxed than she had been in months. Tom was chatting away about his previous job in Paris and his life there. He told a good story, and there was something soothing about the way he spoke. Their conversation seemed to have relaxed him too.
As they approached Bergen Kristin looked out of the window and saw the familiar landmarks of the city. Mount Floien was lit up like a Christmas tree. The sight never failed to please her.
'Landing's the worst bit,' Tom said quietly biting his lower lip.
'Don't worry, I'll hold your hand if you get too scared,' Kristin said smiling.
'Here, I'll show you where my house is.'
Tom moved closer.
Kristin pointed. 'See that bridge there, with the flashing lights - and the mountain behind it?'
'Yeah, I see it.'
She could feel his breath on her face.
'My house is somewhere right in between the bridge and that mountain.'
Ten minutes later they touched down on the icy runway, Tom grabbed Kristin's hand as the plane skidded out of control. Kristin squeezed it hard just as they crashed into the terminal building. The sky lit up in a blaze of sparks and flames.
Emma had been right all along, things really did work out well in the end for nice girls.
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