Chapter3 Airplane | In The Script (novel)

Grae clicks open the briefcase resting on his feet, dropping in the unopened raisin granola bar. Closing the top & sliding the briefcase back into the seat cubby in front of him, Grae re-tightens his seat belt, preparing for descent.
The flight attendants: young, animated & fitting the physical criteria of an unwritten hiring profile, stroll quickly down the aisle, overly energetic with the task of retrieving every last trace of garbage aboard. Grae sees no more than a scanning glance from the intent brunette walking by, his garbage resting fully intact in the briefcase below.
Gazing outside, the view from seat 10A on the Dash 8 turbo-prop is filled with gray skies. Grae stares out into the haze, watching closely for a break in the clouds, blanketing a miniaturized version of his city below.
The captain’s voice projects throughout the cabin, announcing the start of descent and some expected turbulence before touching down. Grae’s gaze remains fixed out the window, as the cloud cover begins to thin and dime sized buildings appear below. The buildings expand to matchbooks as the landing gear is heard activating. A patchwork of fields and roads rushes by, rising steadily closer to contact. The surrounding silence, disturbed only by the mechanical purr of flight, reaches a new level of clarity in the moment before the skid of the landing gear connecting with the tarmac. Grae lets out a quick breath, releasing the last trace of his anxiety from the landing.

This next part is always interesting. A group of 40-some people realize they’ve reached their destination & suddenly feel their first priority is standing-up to claim their place in the aisle. The interesting part being a single file aisle with everyone’s bags resting in compartments above their heads.

Given that the max allowable carry-on weight is 50 pounds — let’s say average weight 35 pounds, and that the average person makes every effort to avoid checking bags, it’s fair to say that a potential 1400 pounds worth of baggage is about to be hastily pulled down into the crowded aisle. Plus, the people most stressed out by flying are so happy about their safe arrival, they’re usually the first to jump into the aisle and initiate the luggage dodge. I, of course, remain seated and watch this whole display. I figure it’s worth losing a few minutes for a few fine moments of live entertainment.

Before standing up, my seat-back is organized and I’m reaching behind me to fold the seatbelt across my seat. I spent some time as a ticket agent a few summer’s back. Three months worth of helping flight attendants clean seat-backs and it’s a bit unsettling the conditioning I still have when no longer consciously motivated.

I make a point to feel the force of each step I take from plane to ground. There’s a sense of awe and satisfaction in the fact that only minutes before, these same steps would have had a brutal result. The mass of the ground and I wouldn’t have changed, but the acceleration of gravity would have been the force of my demise.

So few pay attention to basic physics of every day life, like walking, until something like stepping from 10,000 ft makes a person urgently curious of what force they’ll be meeting the ground with. I pause briefly, savoring the air of victory on my last successful step and the perk of no impatient line behind me.

Excerpt from novel “In The Script.”