There's a joy in the sadness of reaching the end, knowing all is over and there's little more to do. Resignation, completion, accepting the inevitable. She's flying and she's always been afraid of flying. Not this time, she's flying for him, with him, by his side. She's in his elemental world, soft breeze on her skin, skirt billowing, his hair wafting across her face as the Monopoly board red roofs rise to meet her.
"I will!" She'd protested but never did the opportunity present itself again. Never did he ask again.
Even when the opportunity arose to skydive, she reneged using the excuse of expense. The fear of flying, falling, her heart bursting, wetting her pants in the waiting. She wouldn't do it. Even in planes the fear took hold. Her heart races, butterflies in her stomach flutter until she's in the air and out of control. In a state of panic, until she once again lands safely. Flying for her, is a metaphor for life and the way she lived; a necessary evil for a woman who likes to feel safe.
She'd always played safe, had responsibilities, children, work, debt. Her life was 'normal' yet often full of regret. She wanted to jump but only with him, for him. Distance put paid to that. He was the only dangerous thing she'd been involved with since they met. And dangerous he was. Emotionally dangerous, cruel sometimes, loving occasionally, friendly always. A risk taker with little care for himself, little care for others unless they proved useful to his purpose. They were tight but distant. He stopped asking after two years of avid persuasion. She regretted not having done it ever since. But now? Now she understands. As she plummets she feels it, she understands it, she understands him and the way he is. Was. It is exhilarating.
She caresses his face, her finger outlining his delicate features just millimetres from skin that last night had been hers. Close, warm, the moisture of their bodies still felt. The scent of their sex still latent upon her own skin. She has photographs of him sleeping, in their tens, perhaps twenties but they're poor comparisons to the real thing, the slow rise and fall of expiration and sweet liquor on his breath. He's so beautiful when he sleeps. She brushes a wayward lock from hair that once was flaxen and thick, now retreating and graying, he still looks beautiful when he sleeps. She imagines flying with him, low level across fantasy landscapes. She his Lois Lane, he her Superman, whimsical and happy. Elevated in every sense, every sense stimulated her fear of flying eliminated. She imagines diving with him, strapped close in his embrace. First the rush and then the gentle fall beneath silk.
He never really was hers except in these moments of sleepy pre-dawn when she can pretend. Try as she does, the moment does not last, he turns, oblivious to her as she leaves the comfort of his bed, the warmth of his body. "I will never forget you," she whispers upon unhearing ears, he rarely listened. She leaves before the sun rises. She has no affection for sad farewells and hails a taxi to the airport.
She watches lovers, reluctant to release their hold upon each other and imagines their scenario. Perhaps they are the the same as her, leaving someone for the last time. Moving on, travelling forward yet lingering in the lush of sweet lips as they kiss farewell. Remembering moments of a brief dalliance a secret passion, an untold romance. Locked in memory, never to fade but never to be fully realised. She's brought back to earth by the butterflies in her stomach. She doesn't want to go home. There's nothing for her there and nothing for her here and she's afraid to fly.
She hates the engine thrust. The roar and rumble as metal and rubber careen along the tarmac. This is the most dangerous time, she thinks...take off...and landing. Once in the air she can surrender her fear, glide sweetly over cotton cloud, pull a mask over her eyes and lose herself in him, in slumber, in flight. She will remember his softly spoken words, his kindness, his touch. Remember warm nights and cool dips beneath the stars of another sky. Bittersweet yet lovely. He is lovely.
Her fear of flying is almost overcome. She's travelled far for so little, and yet so much, and now on her return to normality, tears well. There's nothing left of her. He doesn't love her. Not the way he should. Not the way she needs. He simply isn't able. The emptiness is overwhelming. The fear fades as the cabin rattles and wheels leave the safety of Terra Firma. The city disappears beneath her. Red roofed houses diminish on a Monopoly board town.
The cabin splits and engines scream. Masks drop from obscured trap doors and panic ensues yet she is overwhelmed by calm, unfastens her seatbelt and lets heaven take her, as he had, with a gentle rush and warm caress. Sucked out, sucked in and falling fast as she had for him. For a moment, she's holding his hand and sailing in thin air. Her dress billowing in the warm breeze, his hair flowing across her face, lips locked in a fatal flight. Her butterflies set free as she free-falls in his embrace.