Written by: Rosemary Wakelin
I don’t like landing either.
That hiccupping thump of the landing gear, that initial jolt when touching down and the final, loud rumbling slide that follows. I slam my eyes shut, press my small feet hard into the floor, as if that alone will help stop the plane sooner.
And then… just like that, it’s over.
I sigh, a bit too heavily.
“I don’t know why you do this job, Lasiandra.” The voice is controlled, well intentioned and belongs to my older co-flight attendant, Aolani. She is flawless with her honey-coloured skin, her sleek, auburn hair and large, wide-set eyes that remind me of my grandmother’s prized muffins, all round and chocolaty. She slowly shakes her head while removing her seatbelt. Not a single hair falls out of place.
I throw her a feeble smile and pry my traitorous body out of its death grip. When I stand, my legs feel like sun-worn rubber. “You know why.”
“Because of what’s out there?” Aolani hooks a levelled thumb over her shoulder. I follow it to the aircraft window.
Out there is exotic Tahiti. “Of course,” I say.
“Oh… Lasiandra.” She says it as if my best friend had just died. I didn’t much care for those sorrowful, downturned eyes of hers either.
“It’s just another glamorous playground,” she says.
And I, for one, am ready to play.
I say nothing more. I straighten my shoulders, put on my best plastic smile and follow Aolani into the throng of eagerly awaiting passengers.
The crew meets later at the Intercontinental Bar. It is a view-lover’s haven, with its crystal waters and red-hot sunsets.
Aolani falls into one of the high backed rattan chairs. She sighs with about as much zest as a geriatric rat. Her hair is wet like mine.
“What have you girls been up to?” This question comes from Matt, a middle aged, very married co-pilot. He is ogling me with those big come on eyes of his. I shiver, recalling the last time he did the same, when he partnered it with a horribly clichéd, Want me to show you how a real pilot flies?
“We snorkelled in the ‘Lagoonarium’,” I say. I thought the whole, unblemished ocean pond amazing. But, Aolani appeared strangely indifferent.
I ask Aolani if she wants her usual drink. She nods and I stroll to the bar. It’s all glossy, local wood, palm-scented thatching and fragrant smells of fresh frangipanis. I order and wait, mentally plan tomorrow’s agenda. A mandatory workout at the gym is first, I think. Later, a spa… perhaps a long massage, and even another swim.
The cocktails arrive and I indulge in its fruity rum-laced tang. It immediately melts my muscles and I relax. This is when I realise that every agonising bump of the flight is worth it.
“I’m thirsty,” shouts a disturbingly familiar voice. “I want a drink. I… want… it… now.”
I turn in its direction and instantly freeze.
It is the same boy from the plane.