Amber: In-flight Entertainment
That cloud over there looks a bit like my dentist.
I’m on the plane heading to Cape Town, looking out of the window because I’m bored by the choice of films. There’s one where Samuel L. Jackson shouts a lot on one channel and one where Adam Sandler shouts a lot on the next. Samuel L. Jackson is a renegade cop who's torn up the rulebook, but I haven’t figured out what Adam Sandler is. He just seems to be a full-time prick. Why don’t they star in one together? See who can shout the loudest and then the loser would agree not to make any more films.
I’m so over men with raised voices and the raised hands that follow. I wish I had someone to talk to. The old lady next to me is asleep, but an accidental-on-purpose elbow nudge soon wakes her up. I avert my eyes for a sec, give her a chance to wipe the drool from her cardy shoulder. Then I turn back to her, beaming.
"Hi," I say.
"Hello," she replies, groggily. Poor old thing. They really need their rest when they get to that age.
"Where are you off to, then?"
"Um, Cape Town."
Makes sense. Stupid question, Amber.
"Travelling alone?" I continue.
"Yes, but my son’s meeting me at the airport. He’s not a black, though. He lives there now. He works in Equities."
"Oh, really? What’s that then?"
These are key parts of my job. Being non-judgemental and pretending to care.
"I don’t know," she shrugs. "Are you on your own too?"
"Yeah," I say. And she can go back to sleep now, because that’s all I really needed to say; all I needed to hear myself say.
"Aren’t you afraid?" she asks. Pestering me a bit now.
"Not anymore," I reply.
Her brow furrows and the resulting pressure closes her eyes again and makes her head droop forward. My training kicks in. I find her pillow on the cabin floor and gently move her into a reclining position. She doesn’t wake up throughout this process. I am skilled at this movement. The Staff Nurse told me in a feedback session..
I feel tired myself now, all talked out from that lengthy back-and-forth and a little bit tipsy. I put the headphones on, switch to a music channel and recline my seat. Then I elevate it back up and take a big swig of white wine from the plastic midi on my tray-table. Then I recline it again.
I probably shouldn’t be drinking so much at altitude. But who’s going to stop me now? Not Neville, never Neville no more. Shit, I am drunk! No more of those sneaky little pencil lines he used to make on the wine bottles in the flat. He didn’t know I knew about that. But he didn’t know about the eraser I kept hidden in the kitchen drawer either.
My bestie Lozzer said that Neville was like salt. It always seems to be about food with her, eh? She said that Neville wasn’t good for me but I needed him. But I don’t need him now. I’m Amber, alone. A few days by myself in Cape Town to acclimatise; and then I’ll join my tour group and head out into the jungle. I’ll sleep in a tent under the stars and fall asleep in no one’s arms, listening to the chirping of birds and crickets, the snuffling of warthogs, the roaring of lions and...erm, whatever noise it is that elephants make.
Peace and quiet.
I lean forward. My drink is too far away. But I’m right where I should be.