All of a sudden a remarkable pressure swelled and the cabin shook from the force as they rose at a sharp angle. Every other person quieted and a baby wailed like a signal to evacuate. The horizon remained flat, rapidly dropping from the window view at which Muriel, like every other person, watched the world dwindle. In awe she looked down as the fields and factories below morphed into a boundless box of chocolates, their tilt lessening until again they moved parallel to the world.
Muriel reached for the in-flight magazine and turned to the services section. Perusing the short list of flights that offer meals for purchase, her stomach moaned. There would not be a meal on flight 707. Her head dropped. The man in a sharp suit, seated across the aisle from her, must think she could do with skipping a meal. Her chubby hands tucked the magazine back into the seat pocket and then she rested them on her bulging belly, the entire act followed closely by the man, interpreted cruelly. Her chest felt tight, probably just weighed by the slight decrease in the cabin's pressure. In the corner of her eye the man leaned into his seat, unaware that his profile against the blue sky was pronouncedly angular and hawk-like. Muriel looked back out her own window.
Radiance blinded her with splendor.
As soon as the illuminated seatbelt sign switched off, the woman who brought the baby on board got up and paced the length of the aisle with the wailing child. It was the beginning of the holiday and she must have been flying her child across the country to meet family, unwittingly aggravating others. The mother rocked her baby. Whispered. The man across the aisle stared at them without betraying his stand on traveling infants, one way or another. What was so sacred about children that strangers feigned aloofness at their tantrums? And what sin would it be, in this secluded cocoon, to voice reasonable irritation, when the relief found in expression just might appease the repressed emotion seething beneath a placid face?
Muriel rolled her eyes, irritated by the man's feigned distance, which was clear to her - there were still years ahead between this man and fatherhood, and it was a conscious decision on his part. He did not wear a wedding band.
The seatbelt sign lit up with a dull ring. Sudden and loud, the pilot's voice drifted from above onto the ladies and gentlemen, announcing an unexpected setback: overflowing toilets. The detour back to Denver was estimated to set them back by about an hour and ten minutes. The apologetic voice died and a collective murmur erupted in the cabin about missed connections and a noticeable tang of waste. As though in protest, a toddler in corduroy overalls raised his voice and then squealed with exasperation.
The man watched the mother hurry back to her seat up front, whispering and rocking the baby. He then glanced back down the aisle and overlooked Muriel, which she expected, and looked out at the sky again. Perhaps her presence was to him what his conscious postponement of paternal responsibility was to her, while they sat there flying through the sky, which felt like pressurized flotation and looked like the void around them - bright and cloudy, packed with it.

Now his shadow lay across Muriel's lap; the plane had changed its course. She placed her hand upon his darkened form, which sprawled across her lap and partially shut out the interfering light, concretizing his presence upon her, cooler than expected.
Outside of the plane it was like the plains of paradise. The sun traveled beside them. The sky seemed to drop off in its extremity with the end of the world, this world, which once more appeared as a boundless box of chocolates only to morph into plains and factories.
Upon returning to the point of departure, she felt that they had plunged against the murky tide and waddled back to port. The swallowed grumble of the plane, increasing as it decelerated, seemed part of the stifled grievance. The landing gear rumbled and the suspensions absorbed the impact of their contact with earth.

Eugenia is originally from Honolulu, Hawaii, and grew up between France, Switzerland, Brazil, and Egypt. She received her B.A. in comparative literature at Brown University and is currently an MFA candidate at George Mason University, where she has been the recipient of a Fellowship. Her fiction has appeared, or is forthcoming, in Caketrain, PANK Magazine, Smokelong Quarterly, NANO Fiction, decomP, Night Train, The Dos Passos Review, and Amazing Graces: an anthology of
fiction by women in Washington, DC. Her poetry in translation has been published in Ninth Letter.




Copyright 2009