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Looking out the window on a plane


I boarded the plane and settled into my aisle seat, after saying  “Hi,” to the young woman sitting next to me.

She turned her misty gaze from the window, to greet me, and resumed her dreamy state.

The engines began to roar as the plane taxied down the runway. Without averting her eyes from the window, she began to sob, her shoulders shaking. The loud sounds from the turbines muffling her voice. From the corner of my eye, I saw tears rolling down her face, wetting her t-shirt. I’m not a nosy person, but I thought she needed help, yet didn’t know how to. Ignore it or try to communicate?

“Here tissues,” I said and offered her a pack from my handbag.

“Thank you,” she replied and took them, without looking in my direction. She wiped her nose and face, and continued to cry until we were high up in the clouds.

“Drinks,” the stewardess asked. I opted for a glass of wine and asked her if she’d like some.

“Something strong,” she muttered, turning her distraught gaze at me.

I passed her a miniature bottle of Scotch and a glass filled with ice. She opened the bottle, poured it in and began to sip.

“Did that help?”

“A little,” she said and cocked her head.”Sorry, for being a nuisance.”

“Not at all. I’m sorry if you feel I’m intruding. I just can’t bear to see tears on such a beautiful, young face. It must have been bad. You need not explain.”

“It was. A big heartache.”

“Hmm, life is full of them, unfortunately. So, shall we say cheers and try to make it better?”

“Cheers, though it doesn’t feel so. I’m just going numb now.”

“Nothing wrong with that. Numb is good. Takes the pain away.”

“Hope it lasts. Have you had heartaches?”

“Many. ”

“Tell me.”

“When I first fell in love, my head in the clouds, I used to get angry at my mother for not understanding my feelings regarding my choice of boyfriend. She said to me ‘You’re not the first one in the world to fall in love. We all have.’ So, at my age, probably around your mother’s, I’ll add to that. We all fall in love and suffer.”

“Is that so?”

“But of course. A heartache is the most common ailment in the world. There is no immediate cure. It only heals with time. Naturally, there are exceptions. Some people find the right partner and manage to keep the flame going all their lives.”

“Did you?”

“Not even when I thought I was wiser. My mother was right about my first boyfriend, but the heart doesn’t have a compass showing you right the way. It has its own magnetism which cannot be explained. After my teenage flop, in my twenties, I thought I made the right choice, but that didn’t work either. I think I have the tendency to attract heartaches. Wrong choices.”

“Tell me.”

I did. By the time we arrived at our destination, she knew more about my love life than those closest to me. I did not exaggerate. Just told her the truth, over many drinks.

She picked up her luggage from the carousel, waved to me, and walked away. I stared after the deja vu of my youth, a brief encounter, and prayed for her to be strong. I knew nothing about her, not even her name. Yet, I sensed sharing something mutual perhaps would help her deal with the pain.