“Excuse me, could I squeeze past?”, a discernible muffle asked politely. Devon softly plucked out his left earphone and looked up at the passenger attempting to make himself absurdly small as another rhinoed her way down the tightly packed isle.
Eyes. Eyes. Eyes. Eyes.
When they blinked, even for that fraction of a second, it reminded him of swimming pool covers in the winter — he wanted to see those two blue pools desperately. The word repeated and repeated in Devon’s mind, not quite like a stuck record — it wasn’t that graceful. It was more like a car getting a slow, but gradual puncture: the rubber from the tyre slapping against the tar at one-and-a-half second intervals — eyes, eyes, eyes, eyes…
She moved past Devon, while he tried not to stare. Window Seat’s impossibly blue eyes were silled beneath expressive, dark eyebrows. Her nose could only be described clichéically as ‘petite’, and her lips looked as though they were constantly about to say something profound that she’d been thinking about for a long time. And, judging by the furrow in her brow, thinking profound thoughts is something she spent a lot of time doing. Those swimming pool covers kept revealing, and then hiding those sapphire pools…
After what felt like actual effort to pull himself towards himself (which caused him some mild perspiration), Devon replaced his earphone and faced the headrest in front of him. Being an astute, and punctual traveller, himself, Devon had pre-booked his seat weeks before the flight, because “even though it costs a little more, it’s just so much more convenient.” Never had he regretted being an organised flyer. Never before now.
Looking at the vacant seat between them, excuses to occupy it ricocheted off the walls of his skull:
— I could spill juice on my own seat.
— Or I could say I wanted to get a good photo of the clouds after takeoff.
— I could maybe say it was for cultural reasons that I had to change seats; but what ‘culture’? Until very recently I thought Lent was the religious festival that came after the religious festival of ‘Lend’.
— What if I stuck my elbow out as the refreshments cart came by, injured myself, and then moved to the middle ‘to avoid it happening again’? That might even get me some sympathy points…
“That’s my seat,” a grunt pointedly referred to the middle seat, this time perfectly audible, because Devon had forgotten to turn his iPod back on.
“Oh, right, yeah,” he stood up and swore violently under his breath.
And, just like that, he lost the nerve to speak to Window Seat. The Grunt moved into the open space, and Devon sat back in his regret.