It was a Thursday evening. Ashley was flying to New York and meeting up with friends to attend a concert. Matt was among a group of travelers sitting in the row in front of Ashley; she could hear him singing lyrics from the band’s songs. Ashley started up a conversation with Matt just as they arrived in NY, and then the two went their separate ways.
On the flight back to Los Angles Sunday night, Ashley recognized Matt from the earlier flight, as he passed by on his way to his seat. Matt put his bag down and came back up to say hello. He sat in the empty seat next to her for a while, and they talked about the show. Ashley showed him pictures and videos she had taken during the concert. When the plane was set to take off Matt went back to his seat, but said he’d come to talk to her later. He didn’t, but she got to doing her own thing and forgot all about it anyway.
Halfway through the flight, the captain announced an unscheduled landing in St. Louis. He calmly explained that one of the hydraulic systems of the plane had given out, but that they’d be on the ground in thirty minutes. A short time later, a terrified flight attendant got on the loudspeaker and suggested that everyone call their family and friends – causing a group of high school students to panic.
The descent into St. Louis was wavy at best. Ashley tried reading a book, but found herself reading the same paragraph over and over without remembering anything. She had a window seat and could see the emergency crews gathering on the runway. Ashley realized that they had been called for her plane and she held onto the seat until her knuckles turned white.
The landing was very bumpy. While sitting on the runway, Ashley called her mother to let her know what had happened and broke down in tears. As when witnessing a car accident or feeling an earthquake, everyone else on the plane discussed their shared experience with one another. A random guy sitting nearby, who had been absolutely silent throughout the entire ordeal, turned to Ashley and asked if she was okay.
They all sat on the plane for nearly an hour while it was being decided whether the plane could be fixed or if a new plane was needed. Matt came up from his seat and sat behind her to find out how she was doing. Ashley began to laugh as she told him how she completely broke down crying while talking to her mother after they landed. To take their mind off of their current situation, they resumed their previous conversation about the concert.
The captain came back on the loudspeaker to inform the passengers that a new plane was available, but since its configuration was different than their current one, they all needed new boarding passes. Matt arranged for the two of them to sit together by giving the impression to the ticket clerks in the terminal that he and Ashley were a couple. Everyone deplaned and got their new boarding passes. An hour later they were on another plane headed back to Los Angeles. The flight was unfortunately just as turbulent and every passenger sat in absolute silence. Ashley’s leg was shaking uncontrollably, so Matt puts his hand on her leg to help calm her down. He then grabbed her hand to calm himself down. They tried again to distract themselves by playing videos of the concert on his cell phone, but it ran out of power. Exhausted from a weekend of very little rest as well as a frightening flying experience, the two finally fall asleep.
It was four-thirty in the morning when they finally landed back in Los Angeles. Ashley offered Matt her phone so he could call for a shuttle to the parking lot. It turned out that they both lived in West Hollywood so he offered to take her home. Ashley figured that a stranger is better than a cab driver, so she accepted his offer. While she was gathering her things, he took the opportunity to save his phone number in her phone under “Sexy Canadian Matt”. He then sent himself a text message from her phone so that he would have her number.
Matt dropped Ashley off at home in the wee hours of the morning. After a much needed nap, Ashley discovered that she had received an email from the airline offering 3000 free miles. She used that as an excuse to text Matt and find out if he received the same offer. He took that opportunity to ask if she could see him the following night for dinner. They went to a restaurant in Hollywood. Matt called her “stunning” upon seeing her – which she made a point to be since the she was looking quite haggard the last time they had seen each other.
The following weekend they wound up at Coachella together. They’ve spent part of every weekend together ever since. The only exception was Easter Weekend when he had to celebrate “the day her people killed Christ” with his family. When she jokingly asked who Christ was, he responded by describing him as “the world’s best carpenter”.
Terrence Moss is a short fiction writer and media commentator with original stories featured on www.thenewgay.net andwww.