Posts Tagged neck
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.
She felt her insides shrink up as she braced herself for the punishment. Sure enough, a hand reached up under the sack and pulled her hair four times, each pull harder than the last.
There was more laughter. The first two tugs hurt and she chomped on her bottom lip to keep from crying. Strangely, by the time the last tug was over, she couldn’t feel anything. Her whole scalp was numb. If he took out clumps of hair, she had no idea.
The man then ran his hand along the front of her neck and clenched it. She was not choking, but could not move and feared that he would snap it.
“You’ve got a problem listening.” He dug his fingernails into her skin. Again, after the first few seconds, there was no pain. She wondered if these men had intentions of killing her. If not, there may not be anything they could do to her that was scarier than what she had already been through. If they did want to kill her, why hadn’t they already? He held her head in place and brought his face up against the sack. She could feel his breath on her chin. “Now you’ve got nothing to say?”
“Not to you,” she said quietly. He squeezed tighter, then pushed her head back, so it hit the wall. He muttered something to his partner and they walked out, closing the metal gate behind them.
Her risky behavior wasn’t accruing unspeakable consequences. Being kidnapped was surely the most offensive assault against her, but she had the feeling the worst was over. Soon, she would know the reason why this had happened and would figure out a way to get out, just like in every other situation.
She rested her head against the ledge and closed her eyes. The water whirled around her knees creating small sprays of bubbles, not unlike what she had seen at the beach. She turned her head to one side and heard the satisfying crack in the back of her neck. She turned her head to the other side, heard the pop and suddenly could not take her eyes from what she saw in the corner of the bathroom.
Next to the wastebasket was a large, bring pink cylinder with rounded ends. She knew what it was instanty because of the color. She climbed out of the tub and, dripping wet, slowly approached as if the object was alive and could attack at any moment. She crouched down and looked closely. The handle was covered in rhinestones. It was almost the size of the one she had seen on the computer screen at the library.
She blinked several times, a hot fear creeping up her back. She tried to put together that she was in her parent’s master bedroom and seeing this toy. She couldn’t. She was afraid to get closer to it, just like when she was about to kill a spider, fearing that it would rise up and swallow her whole. The ribbed surface and curves made her want to touch it, but she knew she never could. She had no idea where it came from or who had used it. She couldn’t imagine how it got into her parent’s bathroom. There had to be some kind of mistake. Her parents barely watched TV and had never seen an R-rated movie as far as she knew. How would they even know what this was?