My fingers wind their way into my earbud cord, faded bluish and dreamlike in the dim glow of the seatback screen. Wrapping the black wire around my thumb, over and over, around and back, around and back, until my fingers are numb, I entertain myself.
The blonde flight attendant is coming by, the one with the heavy southern accent weighing down the ends of her words with its honeyed thickness. She drifts down the aisle with her squeaking grey cart. Again. She pushes more peanuts onto my coffee-stained tray table and glides off again, and it’s “Pretzelspeanutsorbiscuitssir?” to the next row. And the next and the next.
I am wondering if you buried a salted peanut under the blue synthetic carpet, would it grow into a tree? It would happen slowly, and naturally, like an affection budding and sweetening as this plane tumbleweeded through airports and sky and tarmac and airports again, carrying businessmen in their crisp black suits, folded carefully in their seats like laptop computers.
I picture this plane rocked by the roots of the steady and determined vengeance within that single peanut tree, our precarious catamaran shaken out of its trajectory by gently budding leaves and the forceful flow of red sap. I imagine the metals of the cabin sliding down into dust again, and the sharp red Delta torn away by the corrosive kiss of rain.
The plane, still airborne, judders loudly. I feel the boom of what they very delicately call “rough air” rippling into my brain like a wave and a fist all at once. The Fasten-Seatbelt Sign winks on, benign. I stay in my seat, sit still and tight inside this folly of a seatbelt as an ocean of air pounds outside my window. I turn my face back to the little blue screen.
There’s nothing else to do but continue watching, slide another lightly-salted peanut between your teeth and pretend that you’re not being held up by reluctant miles of air, that you’ve never even heard of vengeful peanut trees, or storm giants, or survival on tropical islands. Recline your seat as wind ripples over the port-hole-sized windows and pretend you don’t see the white eyes of the pale, lean wind clawing at the glass, wanting something back that we seem to have stolen.
Deny the world its wonder, keep away the fear.
Keep watching the screen.
Madeleine Feola is a writer, artist, and violinist living in Spokane, WA, with six chickens and lots of books. She frequents airports around the world, and gets her best ideas while cruising at 30,000 feet.