by Elizabeth Penn
Liz tapped her foot, checking the clasp again on her seatbelt which was pulled tightly across her gray pencil skirt. She tucked a few stray hairs behind her ear and smoothed down the lines on her floral blouse, trying to relax. Everyone had just finished loading the plane in the usual way. Not that she would have known; it was her first time flying. The plane was almost completely full of people stuffing duffle bags into tiny overhead compartments, and others who were reading pamphlets from the seat pocket and wiping their runny noses. It was like a packed zoo. But there was still one last open seat: the window seat beside her. And she had every intention of taking it once they closed the plane door.
“Excuse me,” shouted a man with a British accent who burst onto the plane panting, “Sorry, I’m late.” He handed his ticket to a cheery flight attendant with red lipstick who pointed him to the last open seat.
Figures…Liz thought to herself, unbuckling her seat and stepping into the aisle to allow the man in. But the tight quarters got the best of her, and her heel caught on the strap of her neighbors carryon that was tucked beneath the front seat, causing her to trip into the aisle and land on her face with a loud thump.
“Oh, God! Are you okay? Here let me help you up,” the man offered pulling her to her feet, “No need to go though all that trouble for me. Why don’t you take the window seat? It’s always the best way to fly.”
Liz’s face was almost as red as the flight attendant’s lipstick. The flight attendant who, much like the older woman from the aisle seat, didn’t seem to notice Liz or her fall. Their eyes were glued to the man. He wore a normal-looking black suit with a green tie, but he was anything but. He had a strong jaw and messy blonde locks that were only slightly muted by the thick black frames of his glasses.
“Thank you,” Liz murmured shuffling back into the seats and moving her purse over to her new window seat.
He sat beside her. Within a few minutes, the plane was ready to go and was in the air on its way from New York to London. Once the plane leveled, the flight attendants came around with drinks and dinner for the passengers. It was an overnight flight.
“So, what brings you to London?” the man asked, passing Liz her diet Coke and a tray of plastic wrapped chicken, salad, and fruit.
“Work,” she sighed, taking the food and fumbling with the wrappings.
“Oh?” he asked, placing a teabag into his cup.
“I’m the new editor’s assistant for Nicole Weston. Our publishing house is doing a merger with a company in London, but she went into labor last week, and so I am supposed to represent her while she is on maternity leave for the next few weeks.”
“Sounds like a big job. Good for you though, I’m sure you will do great,” the man smiled.
Liz could feel her face flush again. He was still looking at her. Intrigued by her. She looked up to meet his ocean eyes. He felt…familiar. But she couldn’t put her finger on it.
“And you?” she asked.
“Going home. I was in New York for business,” he answered, taking a bite of his meal.
“I’ve never been.”
“No? Oh, it’s a great city. I love it. Perhaps, if you get some time in between meetings I could show you around or we could grab a bite?”
Her heart jumped. A strange man offering to take her around the city just sounded like the opening for a mystery novel about a kidnapping. But he seemed so normal, like the kind of man she would meet at work or at a café. And he was handsome, too. She decided to play it off cool.
“I’ll have to look at my schedule. It’s supposed to be a pretty busy weekend,” she shrugged, gong back to her meal.
“No worries,” he smiled.
The rest of the meal was silent, and once the flight attendant had come around to collect the trays, one by one, people turned out their reading lights, and fell asleep. Being her first time on a plane, Liz hadn’t thought to bring a pillow, so she made due with the awkward puffy one that was provided under her seat. And even though she was stressed about her meeting with the editor the next day, she was also exhausted, and fell asleep within minutes.
Liz awoke to the talking and clanging of the flight attendant serving breakfast. Her pillow felt odd as she blinked awake. And she sat up to see that her pillow had fallen down beside her, and she had been sleeping on the handsome man’s shoulder.
“Good morning, Liz” he chuckled, his eyes still on his laptop.
“Wait, I do know you! I knew you were familiar. Where do I know you from?”
“You’ll have to guess,” he smiled, typing away.
Liz patted down her frizzy hair, blushing again at the thought of sleeping on him. She ordered a coffee and nothing more.
Once the plane had landed, everyone piled out in a single file line, pushing toward the exit. It was like herding cows. The man stayed close to her as the group walked out into the terminal. There were a few people waiting with signs at the gate for special guests. But one in particular caught Liz’s eye: Eric Edwards.
The handsome man walked over to the chauffer who was holding the sign, shaking his hand.
“You’re Eric Edwards? The editor of Edwards London Publishing?” Liz asked in shock.
He smiled, “I’ll see you at the meeting tomorrow, Liz. And don’t forget to get back to me about our date.” With a wink, he walked into the crowd.
Gives a whole new meaning to sleeping with the boss… she thought, mortified as she made her way to a taxi.
Category: Fiction, Short Story, SNHU Creative Writing, SNHU online creative writing, SNHU Student