“You again? It seems you only select my flights to travel on.”
I smiled at the flight attendant.
“It would seem so.”
She pointed me to my seat – the general area – and I thanked her.
A few minutes later another attendant came and asked me if I would like to move up. I had a seat close to the front of economy and I was happy to keep it until I realised she meant an upgrade to business class.
“Really? I don’t know…”
I’m just kidding, let me form small surprised.
“Do you have any bags?” she asked.
I reached in the overhead bin and took down my backpack.
I settled into the leather seat, fastened my seatbelt and stretched out my legs.
This is the life.
“Would you like a newspaper sir?” she was back with a selection of newspapers on a tray.
“Why, thank you.” I gave her my sweetest smile.
I turned to the sports page and was still contemplating whether I could fill out the crossword in ink when she returned with a glass of lemonade.
My phone rang and I was still talking on the phone when she returned with a tray.
Good thing I didn’t write in the paper. I for pay for newspaper today.
I signalled that it was okay to take the paper, but she shook her head. I wrapped the call up and turned back to her.
“I wanted to take your meal order sir.”
Now this is the life.
“What’s there to choose from?”
She ran through the three meal choices and I ordered the ofada sauce and rice.
Boarding was soon done and the lead flight attendant shut the door, made a few announcements and we were on our way.I reclined my seat and played my entire trip back in my head.
I had flown into Abuja two days ago to surprise Cynthia, but she always came up with reasons why we couldn’t see:
It was the end of the year and her office needed her to help wrap stuff up. She’d see me when she was done.
Things ran later than she thought, now she had to stay over at a friend’s close to work – forget that I was staying at a hotel in the same area.
She barely had enough time to shower and change clothes before rushing off to the office again. Hectic week.
She finally caught a break. Their end of year party was that evening, but she didn’t know I was coming into town so she didn’t get an extra ticket. Now, there’s none to be got. Break over, she had to run.
She wished I was there at the party, she wished I could see what she was wearing. At least I’d get her out of it. She’d call when they were done and come over.
My neck felt like someone was standing on it and that was what woke me up.
I winced when I rolled my head around.
I didn’t know whether to call her phone or leave her a message.
Mercifully it was soon 7:30 and I listened to the ringing on the other end. I called back, and when the phone still went unanswered I called the cabbie I used in Abuja.
When I checked out at 11:30, I had called Cynthia twice more. One went unanswered, but the other was cut mid-ring. My excitement turned to disappointment, anger and then a mild depression when I didn’t hear from her till my flight was announced at 2pm.
Seeing a vaguely familiar face welcome me with a smile, hearing her say she recognised me as an individual pulled the darkness that was sitting on my chest off its behind. The upgrade to business class and this treatment made me begin to think it might not be that bad.
“Would you like lunch now sir?”
I opened my eyes to see the lead flight attendant smiling at me.
“Yes please, Christina.” I said, reading her name off her tag.
She set the tray in front of me and took my drink order.
I asked for some more lemonade.
“Would you prefer some wine?” she asked.
I thought about it.
“No, thank you. The lemonade will do just fine. May I please get some ice in the glass?”
“Not a problem.”
When I was done I pushed the tray to one side and right on cue, Christina was by my side.
“Would you like anything else?”
“I just have one question. Has anyone ever finished all the items of the tray?”
“Yes,” she smiled.
“I couldn’t, and I’m stuffed.”
She cleared the tray and I picked up the newspaper where I set it down before take-off. I was filling the Sudoku when Christina returned.
“So tell me, what takes you to Abuja so often?”
I looked up from the paper and I swallowed.
She was standing with her hip against the seat in front of me, her hands folded one on top of the other on the backrest. Her head was tilted to the right, the light coming in from the window behind her caught her hair in a halo. Her dark eye shadow contrasted with her fair skin, and her bright red lipstick accentuated the fullness of her lips.
I thought it was strange how a casual pose could exude such sensuality.
We talked for the remainder of the flight with her leaving at intervals to check on the three other people in business class.
When we landed in Lagos, I felt better by far than before we took off from Abuja.
I paused at the door to thank her for a wonderful flight and she slipped something in my hand.
I didn’t check to see what it was, I didn’t need to. The paper crinkled when I slipped it into my pocket, and I could almost feel her phone number burning through my pocket onto my thigh.
Even as I walked down the steps, I knew I was going to call her.