And Now, Fill Her In
by Jamie Gilman Kress
As the plane rose steadily into the sky, water vapor streaked up the glass like tears in reverse. Kiya, her head resting on the cool plastic near the pane swore she heard the movement of the rivulet, a dry slither like a snake through dry summer grass.
A trick of her imagination; impossible to hear anything over the rumbling of the giant engines. She liked that about flying. The isolation. Thirty thousand feet from everything, the world hidden behind a shield of fluffy white cotton clouds. Only the other passengers in existence, and each of them pigeonholed into assigned seats and lost in their dreams or books or vacant thoughts. Every person a microcosm of their own, none touching Kiya, a realm onto herself.
Her eyes fluttered closed, mind drowsy with the reverberations of technology singing through her bones. She drifted.
Children, dark with summer sun and woodland-adventure dirt trampled through the kitchen, all three loud, hungry, grinning. A woman, older, blonde, smiled back, handed them each a sandwich thick with peanut butter and leaking gobs of apple jelly.
The man sat at the table, reviewing tables of numbers on a tablet, oblivious to the domestic bliss happening all around him. From the tablet holding his attention came the harsh bleeping of an alarm. A small pop-up box: Leave for Airport.
He rose, straightened his tie, gave the woman a perfunctory kiss. Never even bothered to say goodbye to the kids.
But then, he only planned to be gone two days. How could he know he'd never see them again?
Kiya jerked, not awake--she'd have needed to be asleep for that--but aware. Her eyes flitted about the cabin against her volition, searching out the thing she desperately wanted not to find.
He sat in the aisle seat four rows ahead, face only partially visible, but enough to recognize, to know. He'd be dead before daybreak tomorrow.
Kiya always considered flying her sanctuary, the one place the fragments of others' lives failed to find her. And now, she'd lost even that small reprieve. But why?