New Short Fiction – Cabin Pressure (Rough First Draft)

Cabin Pressure


“So you haven’t seen her for three years?” “No. Long time, huh?” “Sure is. She showing you New York?” “Oh, like totally. She’s taking me everywhere! And tonight, for dinner, she’s made pasta. I mean, like, she’s actually made the pasta and everything, you know using one of those rolling things like they do in Italy, imagine that!” “That’s cool.” Yeah, totally cool.”


I know her name is Amy. I know she’s fourteen and three months. I know this is the second time that she’s been on an aeroplane. I know that the first time was before she could walk. I know that she’s going to visit a sister who ran away to New York and made it work. I know that she’s more excited than she’s ever been for anything, and that she never signs out of Facebook. I know that she looked at the instruction foldout, but I know she didn’t take it in. I know she was too excited.


We lose cabin pressure quietly and quickly. I shift over to the middle seat. I lean over Amy and I pull down the blind. She has the four page, laminated instruction foldout on her knees. She’s shaking. “We’re going to have meatballs with our pasta tonight. She’s going to get them from this deli near her apartment.” “She will. You are.”


The plane is shaking and I don’t know if we’re climbing or dropping. The oxygen masks fall down. I read on Wikipedia that in rapid decompression you have ten seconds to put your mask on before losing consciousness. I put the yellow silicone cup over my mouth. Amy can’t keep hold of hers. I help. I want to say being alive and eating pasta is overrated. The screen of her i-phone has cracked across its length. There’s blood in the lap of her dress. A dress decorated with ice cream cones. I think of that song Hyperballed by Bjork. I imagine what my body would sound like slamming against rocks. I don’t know if we’re above sea or land. I don’t know if we’re still at eye level with the clouds. It doesn’t feel like it.


People have started to scream. The cabin crew are unable to smile anymore. They’re as scared as we are. Amy swats for my hand. I feel her blood settle between my fingers. I think about my son. I think about celebrating his first birthday last weekend. I think about falling over with his cake. I think about his mother lifting him up so he could eat some icing off my face. I think about his mother, my wife. I think about the way she fits against my back, head resting between my shoulder blades. I think of the smell of her hair, and how the curves of her ears feel like velvet. The girl on her way to New York to visit her sister presses into me, nudging for space underneath my arm. I hold her. I hold her like we’re going to die.