My nose recoiled as I lowered my head under the airplane door. The air smelt how the interior of the Spirit flight looked, cramped and stale. The front half of the plane was filled with downturned or dead pan faces. The flight attendant welcomed me to the flight, so I smiled and nodded back at her. On the flight to Vegas they had offered me the emergency exit row on seeing how tall I am, but no luck this time. I could see that they were already filled. No doubt the other passengers had realized how necessary the extra legroom is during the flight here. Kobe sent a left and right hook into my backpack as I shuffled down the isle behind a squat bald man already wearing his neck pillow. People looked at me from their seats as I walk by because of my head skimming the ceiling. My seat was 15A, the isle seat because I knew I wouldn’t fit in the window. Kobe, his Dad, and Danny’s seats were in the row next to me. I looked across the row to an angry looking old man and a woman asleep against the window in a business suit.

There was no room to fit my bag under the seat, so I shoved in the overhead carrier. Kobe held onto his backpack because it had his arcade stick in it. We had all gone 0-2 in our matches at the Evolution Gaming Tournament, but that wasn’t why we went. Although we did practice Super Smash Bros for weeks in hopes that one of us would take a game. It had been my first time in Vegas, and I had loved the cultural freedom that could be felt wherever you were like you could be whoever you wanted whenever you wanted. I spent my time in the Casino off to the sides of craps tables and watching the comradery of strangers winning and losing together. I didn’t look forward to going back home where I’d be trading a spacious hotel room for doorways I must duck under and a bed I can only fit on diagonally.

I stepped in front of seat craning my head beneath the lowered sealing so others could get by. On lowering myself I immediately realized I had run out of room to bend my knees. Awkwardly, I pressed my butt against the back of my seat and slid down at an angle with my feet in the aisle. Even sitting I couldn’t fit my knees behind the seat in front of me. If they tried to lean back it might break my legs. It was worse than squeezing under my Honda Civics’ low steering wheel.

 After successfully trapping myself I looked at my aisle mates but the man and woman next to me were eagerly avoiding social interaction. The first stranger I met on a plane was a kind old lady that me and my dad sat with on a trip to Florida. I was only in middle school, but she asked me what college basketball team I played for. It was the first time someone had mistaking for being much older, but as I did age it would become common for strangers to shout across the room asking what ball team I played for. I was never good at basketball, too uncoordinated and nervous. It’s a waste, I’ve been told, not to use my natural advantage. I never fit in, not only was I head and shoulders over everyone on the court, but I was the slowest and least aggressive.

Most of the passengers had found their seats, and the stewardess was sent up the aisles to make sure everyone was ready for liftoff. When she arrived at me, I tried to tuck my legs in as much as I could. She looked at them sticking out below her, beat up sneakers attached to skinny legs, and leaned into me. I could see pity in her eyes, and I held my breath in anticipation.

“There’s and empty row in the back it’ll give you somewhere to put your legs” she said.

I smiled and thanked her while wriggling my way out of my seat. She showed me to the last row in the plane. It was smaller than the other rows due to being just above the engine, but I had it all to myself. I picked the window seat, pushed up all the armrests, and spread my legs across the length of the row. For a half hour I was comfortable. My eyes were closed and even though I couldn’t sleep I rested in a meditative state. Until I heard a gruff “excuse me” and I opened my eyes to see a small man standing in front of me. He was a little person, probably around four feet tall, dark skinned, and bald. He was in most physical aspects the opposite of the pasty, six foot seven, nineteen-year-old desperately in need of a haircut that I was. The man asked if he could sit. I said sure and pulled my legs back across the row, disappointed that I lost the excess legroom.

He boosted himself up onto the farthest seat from me, and to my surprise curled up into a ball across the two open seats fitting perfectly. I looked at him and shrugged, he’s done this before. My legs stretched their way across the full length of the row, and I returned comfortable to how I was before. For the next hour of the flight we slept crossing each other like a misshapen yin-yang symbol. It was not lost on me that any other passenger would have ruined my luck. We were two unlikely companions and were the most comfortable people on that cheap flight.


Category: Airplanes

Latest Stories
Checking In/Checking Out

Filter by Category

Everyone has a story to tell...

Submit Yours Here

Points of Departure: