Archive for category love
Please read this letter in its entirety. While I know your instinct may be to tear it up, or act as if you’ve never received it, please work against it. It is imperative you know that I am not writing to you out of anger for what may or may not have happened. I am still out of the country and, while I have received disturbing news about my property being disrupted, I am a firm believer in assessing a claim before reacting. This only has to do with…
Her seat seemed to slump and began to shake suddenly. Danno woke up and took her hand. Their tray tables rattled, spilling her ginger ale on her legs, and the seat belt lights blinked incessantly. The stewardess wobbled toward the front of the aisle and picked up the intercom speaker.
First she spoke in Korean and then, Ala assumed, repeated, “Please everyone take your seats and fasten your seat belts. We are experiencing some turbulence and at the captain’s request, please remain in your seats.”
Ala had acquired the bad habit of never wearing her seat belt on flights. She reached down to find the buckle and the plane shifted again, slamming her forehead against the tray table.
“Oh no, here sit back, let me see,” Danno said, rubbing the spot on her forehead that she knew would later erupt into a bump.
The vibration grew quicker and the stewardesses strapped themselves into the seats parallel to the rows in the front of the cabin. Ala shoved the letter into her purse and zipped it, making sure all of the compartments were closed. Her legs shook as she felt her stomach drop, as the plane seemed to turn in the opposite direction.
The intercom came on again and a man’s voice took over. He spoke Korean in a calming tone, but Ala could tell there was vomit rising in the back of his throat he was trying to keep down. The speaker cut out before her could repeat himself in English.
A drink cart came crashing down the aisle, slamming into a man’s elbow. He screamed.
“Put the Goddamn brake on that cart!” He yelled. A stewardess unstrapped herself from her seat and ran over. Grabbing the cart handles, she struggled to push it forward. The man got out of his seat to help her.
“I’m sorry Sir. The brake was on.”
An alarm went off and the tension among the few passengers flourished, as the air seemed to tighten around them. Ala pictured them plunging into the black water and being ripped apart by whatever unseen beings they would disturb. She felt up and down her seat, trying to find the flotation device. Danno took her hand.
“Calm down. The plane isn’t going down. It’s a storm.” He pointed to the droplets covering her window. “Don’t waste your energy being hysterical.”
“But it might go down. Everyone is scared,” she said.
“Come here,” he said, wrapping his arm around her. He pulled the blanket up over both of their legs and put his neck pillow behind her back. Even with the awkward armrest jutting into her ribs, she began to feel better.
“Apple,” he whispered.
She looked at him.
“What are you doing?”
“Now you say a food that begins with the letter “B”.” The stewardess reached into the drink cart and pulled out a few ice cubes. She wrapped them in a napkin and handed them to the man to hold against his elbow. The lights flickered in the cabin. Ala tried to hold in her urine. “Come on,” he said.
“Bologni,” she said. He nodded.
“Chicken Cordon Bleu. That’s two points for me.”
“Why is that?”
“Because I used the letter “c” twice.”
“Fine. Dagwood Sandwich,” she said.
“What is that?”
“You know, from Blondie. The sandwich that looks like it’s twelve layers of meat and cheese.”
“The comic book? The sandwich enthusiast. My father and I used to read them on weekends.”
Her eyes filled with tears. She had avoided her parents and now was going to drown in the dark before ever seeing them again. The pressure around her heart made her nervous to move any part of her body.
“Fine, the point is yours under the condition that this so called sandwich has been attempted by someone other than a fictional character. Éclair.”
An overhead bin opened, tossing a trunk out that burst open when it hit the floor. A lady screamed and made the sign of the cross against her chest. Ala closed her eyes.
“Hardly a food, but fine.”
“You’re sort of a pain in the ass with this game.”
“I just play fair,” he said, rubbing the palm of her hand. “Kale.”
The plane veered sharply and straightened out. The alarm stopped pulsing and the lights stabilized. Ala was sure they had crashed and that she was watching the scene while dead. The stewardess tried to adjust her cap and walked back to the intercom.
“It seems that we are through the turbulent portion of our flight. The captain asks that you please remain in your seats with your seat belts fastened. We will come through with beverages offerings once we receive clearance.”
“We’re okay,” he said. “And I’m pretty sure I won.”
Ala pinched his forearm and then rested her head against his chest. She drifted off just as the sun cut through the black sky.
Her nails scraped against the sealed flap as she looked around to make sure no one was watching her. Everyone seemed to be concerned about the directions for boarding gates or taking items out of their suitcases to meet the approved weight for checking bags.
Ala thought about calling her parents to let them know she was leaving the country. She was used to doing so even if she was only leaving the city, and couldn’t imagine their worry when they realized they had no idea where she was. This however, was before their hobby had taken such precedence in their lives.
If she called her parents, and they bothered to pick up the phone, they would try to stop her from getting on the flight. Her father would probably drive to the airport. They would see Danno and would want to talk to him. They would think he was trying to coerce her to leave the country.
The seating area was hot and she could feel the bottom of her feet sticking to the leather in her sandals. She loosened the straps, took them off and stretched her toes. She ripped the edge of the envelope open slowly.
She looked up and saw a security guard towering over her. He wore a hat that was too small for his head and had a radio in his hand ready to notify someone if he needed help.
“I have to ask that you put your shoes back on.”
“Why?” She said.
“Well, it’s a public area. And shoes are required for sanitation reasons.”
Ala looked past him at a young woman changing a baby’s diaper on the floor. A man next to her was sleeping with a stream of drool dripping onto his shirt. Another man ate from a cardboard container and picked at his ear. It was hard to believe that she could be singled out as being the most disruptive out of these people.
“What about them?” She said, pointing at the group.
“What about them?” He said, shifting his weight, growing impatient.
“They’re clearly not taking sanitation into account.”
“They all have shoes on.”
“You mean to tell me that I can wipe up shit in the middle of this sea of people, but I can’t take my shoes off for a minute? Even though I’ll have to take them off for security?” She heard her voice getting sharper.
“Yes,” he said, smiling. His teeth were brown around the gum line and it bothered her. She didn’t like taking criticism from people whom were themselves making the same mistakes. She had always had difficulty with supervisors that she didn’t feel matched her intelligence. Now it made her furious that a man was referring to her as unpolished, when he himself seemed to have poor hygiene habits.
She picked up one of the sandals and stood. Her intention was to smack him across the face with the dirty sole.
“Is there a problem?” Danno said, approaching with the boarding passes.
“Yes. He won’t let me take my shoes off for a minute even though all of those foul people over there are doing whatever they want.” This she said too loudly and summoned several dirt looks.
Danno smiled at the guard and gently removed the sandal from her hand. Dropping it to the ground, he said, “Do me a favor and put you shoes on.”
“Why?” She said, knowing that she would be putting them back on, but feeling ashamed that the security guard was going to get his way.
“So we can get on with the trip. Come on. Just do it. Please.”
She rolled her eyes at the guard and sat back down. Danno nodded at him as he strutted away. Ala nearly broke one strap by tugging it roughly across her foot. She straightened her dress and swung her purse over her shoulder.
“I got our tickets. There’s only one issue. We couldn’t get on the same connecting flight from Seoul,” he said.
“Oh really?” She said, deflated.
“You’ll get there before I do.”
“How long will we be apart?”
“About twelve hours. We’ll be so exhausted at that point, you’ll barely notice. I did my best.”
“I know. Thank you,” she said.
“We are carrying on, so security should be quick.”
She followed him into the snaking line and waited, making sure she did not make eye contact with anyone.
“And how are you today?” A man checking their tickets asked.
“We’re fine, thanks,” Danno said before Ala could respond. She could tell he felt like she was yanking him into the quicksand with her. She wouldn’t be surprised if he tried to drug her before they boarded the plane to avoid any confrontations.
They found a table by the window in the club cafe. The glass slanted forward enough to be able to see planes taking off. The linens and china were elegant and Ala felt under dressed. She put on a pair of sunglasses and arranged her hair so that she had more of a side part.
Danno ordered a bottle of white wine for them since it was so hot and a platter of oysters. Ala worried that her stomach would turn if she had only that before flying and decided to order a chicken salad as well.
“Are you excited?” He said, beaming at her. Among her anxiety, she had forgotten how much she looked forward to spending each day with him.
“I can’t wait to get there,” she said.
“What’s the first thing you want to do?”
“Meet you at your gate.”
“And after that?”
“Visit the Bogyoke Market and buy hats.”
“That’s a great idea. I read that it’s common for scalps to start frying within the first hour.”
“The book used the term “scalps frying?”
“Of course. Crouton?” He dangled his fork in front of her face.
“No thank you,” she laughed. “But what are you going to do while we’re apart?”
“Work, no doubt.”
“Of course. I used to work out of Guyana years ago.”
“Don’t you think you’ll want a new job?” She said, toying with the hard boiled egg on her plate.
“Well sure, but not until I learn Burmese.”
“What about working in tourism?” She said. He placed his hand over hers on the table.
“Believe me, you won’t want me to have a different job. No one will bother us. That’s the beauty of working remotely.”
“Alright,” she said, finishing her wine. He leaned across the table and kissed her.
They lingered at the magazine stand so that they wouldn’t have to pace around the gate. Ala bought several books and a large blanket. Danno bought cough drops and a neck pillow.
“My throat always hurts during plane rides.”
“Maybe they’ll serve some nice warm fish soup to soothe you.”
He grabbed her and, pinning her arms to her sides, blew against her neck.
“Stop!” She squealed.
The cashier rolled her eyes as she handed them the bags.
The first six rows of the plane were empty and Ala hoped the stewardess would permit them to move up to first class, even though it was unlikely. She settled into her window seat as Danno tucked the blanket around her legs. Takeoff was smooth and the few people on the flight were quiet. Ala drank ginger ale to settle her stomach and was soon asleep.
Waking up, she looked at the black sky out the window. She liked the idea of flying over the ocean at night, of being midair in the pitch black. Danno was asleep next to her and she was wide-awake. She wanted to wake him and pull him into the bathroom after her, something she had never done. She felt like a restless honeymooner.
A subtitled movie hummed from the screen in front of them but she had no interest. She took one of the new books from the bag and into page three her eyes began to burn. She took her purse from under her seat and found her lip balm. Applying it, she saw the envelope and took it out. She finished opening the flap and unfolded the pages.
Danno drove slowly, letting other cars pass them on both sides of the road. Ala held tightly to his arm, slightly squeezing it every time she thought about bringing up the wallet.
“I feel better,” she said.
“So do I. You look better,” he said, gently rubbing her knuckles with his thumb, sending shivers down her spine. “We should buy some boots at the airport. For hiking.”
“Do they sell them there?” She asked.
“I’m sure. They have everything else you could need. You’ll also have to teach me about all of the poisonous plants and trees to avoid.”
Ala tried to recall the books she had read about Burma. When she first became infatuated with the idea of a visit, she had chosen the books on a romantic whim, rather than practical preparation. Sitting in a dust ridden hidden corner or the library, she had paged through each volume, running her fingers over the pictures printed on the old paper, smiling. The more severe the argument with Jase was, the more seriously she studied the text.
She learned about arrow poisons and gloriosa root. She had chosen a wardrobe from a catalogue fit for hiking through the jungle toward the love temple. It was important to wear sturdy soled shoes, but not anything that could be destructive to the land. All of the clothes she had with her now were frilly and pretty, meant for a summer filled with parties and boat rides. She would have to wear layers until they could find proper gear.
“We still haven’t eaten. Is the club okay?”
“Fine,” Ala said. Danno cared a lot more about the kind of food he ate than she did. Her parents had always ordered out when they were home. Neither could use a microwave properly. Prime rib was a favorite, along with buttered noodles for Ala. It was the only dish she wanted to eat because meat and onions terrified her. Her parents never pushed her to try anything else.
Danno reached into his suit pocket and pulled out an envelope.
“This was in the mailbox,” he said, handing it to her.
She felt the grain of the thick ecru paper that she remembered to be Emmanuel’s stationary. It matched the envelope from the letter he had given her which proposed the summer housesitting job. She put it inside of her purse. It was important to relax before the flight. If she were to have another outburst, Danno would not let her anywhere near the plane.
He pulled over on the shoulder before the airport entrance. A car pulled up and dropped off a man with shiny shoes and teeth. He approached the driver’s side.
Danno stepped out and opened the trunk. The man stepped aside and twitched slightly. His head moved back and forth rhythm Ala only noticed because she was staring. She let herself out of the car and hurried over and he placed all of their luggage on the curb.
“What is going on?” She asked.
“Give me a minute,” Danno said in a voice that wanted to yell at her, but held back. He closed the trunk and tossed the keys to the man. Then, he opened the door to the other car and gestured for her to climb inside.
Rainbow was behind the wheel and nodded in the rearview mirror. Danno climbed in and tapped Rainbow on the shoulder. He started driving and turned on the radio.
“I sold the car,” Danno said.
“Airfare,” he said.
She had forgotten to take money into account. It was the reason she hadn’t gone to the temple sooner. Now she believed she hadn’t gone so that she could meet him. Still though, she knew he had a lot more money than what the car cost. The sinfully beautiful car that he could have had many of for all she knew. She didn’t know if the car meant anything to him, but it meant a lot to her.
He smiled and looked out the window. He was happy about the transaction. She nestled into the nook of his arm and took a deep breath. He wasn’t attached to things like she was. He was used to moving on.
Rainbow pulled into the drop off lane at departures.
“Bye,” she said. He nodded. Danno got out without saying anything. An attendant came over with a rolling cart and loaded their bags onto the deck. The wheels squeaked and made her very nervous, like everyone was going to notice them and know they were trying to get out of the country.
The airport was very crowded for it not being a holiday weekend. The line for security was wrapped around three cues. There were suitcases stacked on trunks and strollers used for random bags and children clung to their parents legs.
“You don’t look so good,” Danno said, his face nearly losing color. “Go sit down. I’ll get our tickets.”
Ala pulled out her compact mirror. Her face was deep red, almost resembling a rash. Her feet barely moved forward. She had to find a way to calm down. This trip was what she had wanted. This was the reason she took the job. She made her way over to a scratched plastic chair and sunk into it. She watched families and business men pass by, nearly colliding into each other from opposite directions. No one seemed to look where they were going. Her hands shook as she reached into her purse and pulled out the envelope.