Here is a short story I wrote in high school as a prompt for English. We were given the choice of three scenarios and I chose the one titled “Two Strangers On A Plane”, which doubles as the title of this piece. I tried to play around with the concept of strangers. There are two actual strangers, and one person with two very different sides to her personality that can switch almost instantaneously. Tell me what you think!
Two Strangers On A Plane: Part One
I squeezed down the narrow aisle of the plane, my messenger bag rhythmically hitting my thigh after every step. I muttered my row and seat under my breath.
In row 12 there was a woman trying to calm her shrieking baby. I really hoped I wouldn’t have to listen to that sound for the whole four-hour flight.
In row 20 there was a man whose rolls of fat spilled over the edges of his seat, leaving almost no room for the unfortunate soul who was stuck seated beside him. I wondered how he had wedged himself between the armrests in the first place.
In row 26 there was a bony teenager with dreadlocks. His eyes were bloodshot and he reeked of pot. I wondered how he had gotten past security in the state he was in. He was just staring off into space, his eyes vacant. It creeped me out, so I moved on.
Finally, row 31. I stopped cold when I saw the person who would be my row mate for the next four hours.
To say she was impeccably dressed would be an understatement. Stiletto heels of black velvet and four inches high dressed he feet. Light black stockings that stretched to hint at the skin underneath led up to a perfectly starched and ironed pencil skirt. She was wearing a perfect white shirt, the sharp pleats looking like razor blades. Lipstick of a bright, blood red color accented the paleness of her alabaster skin, and the smoky eyeshadow she wore made her honey-brown eyes pop. Her bun was so tight it seemed to pull her eyelids back, making it hard to blink. Not a hair was out of place, even though today had been especially windy.
In short, she was downright intimidating. She looked like the kind of person who wouldn’t appreciate small talk, especially from a teenage girl with windblown, matted hair, a spray-painted t-shirt, ripped jeans and an army-green, canvas messenger bag.
I was frozen. Should I ask for a seat change? Was it too late for that? Should I say ‘hi’? This was my first time flying alone, so I wasn’t completely sure of the correct etiquette.
She looked up from her sleek and no-doubt very expensive laptop and turned her hardened, annoyed gaze on me.
“I—Um, sorry. I, uh, sit here? Uh, yeah,” I stuttered and stumbled over my words, making a fool of myself. I was still standing there awkwardly, unsure of what to do with myself. I started nervously tapping my fingernails against the buttons adorning my bag, the clinking sound filling the space between us. A poor substitute for conversation.
Suddenly her face lit up with an amused smile, the warmth of the look in her eyes contrasting with her harsh appearance. “Then sit! I don’t bite!” Her voice was chipper, conversational, and inviting.
“Um…okay,” I uncertainly sat down at the edge of my seat, ready to bolt in case of a sudden change in personality to match her appearance.
She laughed, probably at my reaction, and closed her laptop. “My name is Simone Wilson. What’s yours?”
Even her name matched her appearance in its regality. My name matched my ratty, unkempt appearance. “I’m Amber George,” I said, following her example of giving my full name. I inched back a little in my seat, allowing my guard to drop a little without completely forgetting it.
“Amber? I had a niece named Amber. She was two years old,” she smiled, her eyes attempting to blink. She looked past me, not seeing the cabin of the plane but instead images of a little girl, completely constructed by memories.
I didn’t want to interrupt, but I was curious why she’s the past tense. Before I could form the words I got my answer. Her face suddenly turned as harsh as her pleats. “She’s dead now,” she started. “She was a very troublesome child. Horrible really. Always on some type of adventure involving messy substances, life-endangering contraptions or other such inconveniences. When she died, she caused my brother to become an alcoholic, get a divorce and commit suicide. Thanks to that little girl I lost my brother. I hope she rots in hell!”