In The Company of Angels (Burning Man 12)

“That must’ve come from a dark place”

Margaret sat up in her seat startled. “Huh”

“That shout I just heard, not sure what you said exactly, sounded scary”

Margaret looked at the young man seated next to her. He had his seat table down and was fumbling with his laptop. He was a young man in his early twenties. Margaret had barely noticed him as she had sat by the window when she had boarded the flight. She had fallen asleep as soon as the flight took off. She looked at him, he smiled shyly.

“What did you hear?” she said in a desperate almost defiant way.

“Oh nothing really. I jumped because you’d been so quiet. I’m sorry my name is Roland, Roland Moffitt.”

“I’m Margaret.” Her voice sounded strange to her. It was probably the cigarettes and lack of sleep.

“I’m sorry if I startled you. I think I jumped just like you did. Long flight, wish I could sleep. Just too excited.”

Margaret lightened up a bit. She didn’t want to seem brooding and offensive. His pleasant tone seemed to temper her strain and sadness. “First time to Paris?” she asked.

“Yes!” Roland replied enthusiastically. “I’ve been accepted at the Sorbonne. Have you been to Paris?”

“Ah oui” Margaret actually smiled. This enthusiasm was somehow contagious. She remembered the first time she had been to ‘La Ville Lumiere’ the City of Lights, as a young girl visiting her Father for the first time. It was also the first time she had been on a plane alone. Her first taste of independence.

“You’ll love it. Will you be studying there?”

“Yes I will. Fine arts and science. My ambition is to be an artistic scientist. My Father thinks I’m crazy.” Roland popped his laptop closed.

“Well I say you should go for it. The world needs more artistic scientists.” Margaret looked at the window and pulled up the shutter. She thought she must look a fright. The flight was full. Only now did she realize most every passenger was awake and talking. The inflight movie was on but no one seemed to be paying any attention. She picked up her cell phone out of habit and checked the time. She had already changed it to Paris time. Now she remembered what she had been dreaming! There was a monster tearing up the wing just like in the old twilight zone episode. She thought about the missing flight in the Indian Ocean. That could be what caused the crazy exhausted dream. She grinned as it occurred to her that William Shatner was now doing those corny travel ads all these years later. From the ‘Twilight Zone’ to Priceline. Ironically that was where she had booked the flight from Dulles to Orly.

The stewards were heading down the aisle. They looked quite sprightly and proper in their British Airways uniforms. “May I get you a beverage?” he politely asking Margaret first.

“Yes may I have water please.” Margaret was parched.

“And you sir?” He smiled as he asked Roland. Margaret wasn’t sure but he looked as if he might ask Roland out for a date.

“May I please have a beer. Just surprise me with the type.” Roland looked back at Margaret as if she needed to give him permission to indulge. She caught herself grinning and half winking at him.

With the care and precision of a magician both a Perrier and Brown Ale were produced without the slightest apparent effort by the obliging steward. “Enjoy your flight and thank you for flying British Air” he remarked as he went on down the aisle.

Margaret held the Perrier to her nose and sniffed it as she had the habit of doing. She didn’t even use the plastic cup, she thought it would denigrate the purity of l’eau. She took a delicious drink and enjoyed the flavor. Roland smiled at her but in a way that made her feel safe. He respected her and she could tell that from his careful expression.

“Are you going to visit relatives?”

Rushing and tumbling. Her thoughts crashed inside her mind. How could she have been so cold? What had happened inside her mind to alienate her Father to such a degree? The teenage rebellion had never left her. She was never equipped to deal with his rejection of her ideas, so she had ventured to reject him entirely. Only now, on a flight to Paris, sitting next to an ‘artistic scientist’ did she realize the running she had been doing.

“Yes my Father.” With a choked enthusiasm now, she suddenly felt reserved.

“Is he retired in Paris?”

“Yes” she now shrank into her seat. She had never felt so small. Margaret who did television ads for the oil oligarchy had shrunk away into her seat on flight 719. She felt insignificant, she was tainted.

Roland sat back. He looked at the passengers around as if they had heard. She felt like he could shield her from their stares. She felt guilty.

“I don’t know why I’m saying this exactly but I think you’ll be okay. People are not as evil as you think, even the darkest person has moments of kindness if only to themselves.”

Margaret sat straight up in her seat. Why did he say this? It struck at the heart of her thoughts, like a song you finally hear and understand. She looked out the window. Blue and clouds. The flight went on.

“I wanted to cry, but I realized that I was too old for that. I would be a woman soon and I would have to learn how to live with a divided heart.”— Anita Diamant,

“Of all life’s pleasures, only love owes no debt to death.”— Anita Diamant

Get off the cell phone and Drive! — Jake Shween


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