Sabrina stood in the line-up at the Louisville International Airport in Kentucky, with passport in hand, waiting to board the flight home. When she got up to the flight attendant, she found out that her seat had been upgraded to business class. She felt a flush of pleasure – how lovely it would be not to have to squeeze into Economy, not to be pressed arm against arm, not to have to crawl over others to use the washroom.
She boarded the plane, placed her carry-on in the overhead and sat down in the roomy and comfortable seat. A few minutes later a seat-mate joined her; a pleasant looking man, maybe a few years older. He nodded and smiled, he had a great smile. It warmed her.
They settled into their seats and buckled up for take-off. There was the rush of adrenaline pumping through her veins as the plane powered off of the runway; the roar of the engines, the thrust propelling them forwards and up. It gave her a secret thrill; the feeling of flying, defying gravity, something so impossible, yet here they were climbing thousands of feet into the air.
Her seatmate leaned over, and introduced himself, “Hi, I’m Clive.”
Internally, she shrank, ordinarily shy, she hated small talk on airplanes. However, she smiled and said, “I’m Sabrina.”
“Where are you from?” Clive inquired.
That’s when it happened, something clicked inside of her. Sabrina thought her life was boring, she was a librarian, had some good friends, a boyfriend. She loved to read, took painting classes, loved the outdoors, especially nature hikes. But Sabrina had always thought that there was nothing was exciting, nothing remarkable about her life. It suddenly occurred to her that here was her chance – she’d never see this guy again, never meet him outside the confines this aircraft, so why not, why not construct a different life?
Sabrina cocked her head, “I’m from Alberta.”
“Ah, the wild west…what do you do there?”
“I live on a ranch, own horses. My sister and I run it together.”
“How much property do you have?”
“Oh, ah, we have 200 hundred acres, lots of green rolling hills, mountains, fresh air, a small lake, it’s heavenly actually,” Sabrina said with a grin. “And you, where are you from?”
“I’m from Toronto, Ontario.”
“And what do you do for a living?”
“I’m the CEO of RCM Technologies, an engineer by trade.”
“Oh, so you’re a detail person?, My sister-in-law is married to an engineer, an interesting guy,” Sabrina’s face crinkled, between a smile and a grimace.
Clive threw back his head and laughed, “Ya, you could call me a detail guy, too, kind of analytical. “But tell me more about you, since I am a detail guy, give the details, how many horses do you have?”
Luckily for Sabrina, she had done a lot of reading, and her reading had included reading about horses, so she took a deep breath and dove in.
“We have 100 horses, some broodmares and stallions included in the bunch.”
The conversation grew from there; They got chatting about their lives, their likes and dislikes, with Sabrina peppering her story with truth and untruth. She was having fun, making up her life and Clive was a great conversationalist. As time passed Sabrina felt herself leaning towards Clive, laughing with him. His eyes were mesmerizing, and she was drawn in by his warmth, his humour.
They had fun. There was a spark; the more Sabrina and Clive talked, the more it ignited.
Clive checked his watch, “Looks like we’ll be landing in about a half an hour, look, I ah, don’t know if you enjoyed this conversation as much as I have, but…would you consider keeping in touch? I know we don’t live in the same province, but I travel a lot and well, there is technology. We could give it a chance, see where it goes, ya know. What do you think?”
Sabrina was stunned. She felt her face flush. She stood up abruptly, grabbed her bag, stumbled over him, mumbling, “I, have to, I ah…”
She pushed past him, rushed down the aisle to the washroom, slammed the door shut.
“Crap, what have I done?” Here was a guy she had met and on a whim, and in a crazy sort of knee-jerk reaction, she had gone and concocted a different life. And now, he wanted to keep in contact??? She heaved a sigh. She hated liars, she thought them cowards, yet, here she was. When it started she hadn’t thought she was “lying,” she just thought it was a lark, some silly bit of fun.
Sabrina liked Clive, she really did. She gave herself an ugly look in the mirror.
“Look what you’ve gone and done now.”
Sabrina sighed again, took another look in the mirror, fixed her makeup, added a little lipstick, pasted on a bright smile. She straightened her dress, smoothed it down. She opened the door and walked deliberately back down the aisle towards Clive.
He looked, at her concerned, “Look, I didn’t mean to offend you, it’s okay, we can end this here?”
Sabrina dipped her head, looking at him from the corner of her eyes, “Clive, really, don’t worry, I always get nervous before the plane lands.” She dug into her bag, pulled out a pen and a small bit of paper, wrote quickly on it.
“Here’s my cell number,” Sabrina said, when she handed it to him, her fingers shook ever so slightly.
The plane landed, Clive and Sabrina walked off together, numbers now exchanged. Clive hugged Sabrina lightly, “Talk to you soon.”
“Yes,” she said softly.
Then she turned and walked away through the crowds.
Faces seemed to peer at Sabrina as she made her way through the airport.
“Coward,” the crowds mocked, “coward.”