12C

Prompt: Clarity

tomato juice

We reached our cruising altitude and the flight attendants brought out trolleys to serve soft drinks, juice, and beer. The man next to me was already slightly drunk. He was talking to himself; a mild argument. I put my headphones on, even though I was listening to nothing.

He started to nudge me. When I turned to him he was mouthing something… mouthing something and not speaking aloud, for some reason relating to my headphones, I assumed. I shook my head, no. Whatever he was saying to me, just no.

He nudged me and pointed over my shoulder. The flight attendant was there, serving someone else some tomato juice from a can. I turned to my seat mate and shook my head, again.

I caught the flight attendant’s eye and shook my head, no beverages for me.

Dammit, the guy wouldn’t leave me alone. He poked me with a finger in my shoulder.

I took the headphones off and lay them in my lap. “Can I help you?”

“Do you speak English?” he asked me.

I had just spoken English, so I said nothing. How long was this flight again? Was it full?

“I think he took your hair,” the man said, nodding to the flight attendant, who was a rather handsome Hispanic man, with a perfectly fine, neat, and slightly short coif.

“I don’t think so,” I said. I took my notebook out and wrote a brief message which said: Can you please change my seat? Sincerely, 12C. I ripped it out, folded it in half, and gave it to the flight attendant.

I felt sorry for the man, I truly did. He had obviously missed a dose of meds, or his drinking caused him to fall off the lucid truck. Either way he was intrusive and annoying, and his problems had nothing to do with me.

I was moved further to the back of the aircraft, another aisle seat with an apparently married couple beside me.

I put my headphones on. I didn’t need music or sound isolation. I just liked to be left alone. The woman nudged me. I took them off again and stared at her.

“What happened to your hair?” she asked.

“Nothing,” I said.

“Oh, I think so,” the woman said. She turned to her partner and whispered in his ear. He leaned over and gazed at me, and at my hair.

He nodded to his wife.

Ok, I touched my head. My hair was there. It felt the same. It was short, lightly gelled, and in place.

When the flight attendant reached us with the beverage trolley, the woman beside me handed him a note.

The flight attendant read the note, looked at me, and smiled.

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