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Sky Mask

Story on an overnight plane trip

By Wilkie StewartPublished about a year ago Updated about a year ago 3 min read
contrail across the sky

He buzzed the stewardess again. She came down the aisle quickly but he could see that her smile was less friendly than before, perhaps some travellers were being difficult today. Yes? she said. Can you adjust the lighting please? he said. It's too bright. She checked the light above his head which was off. I'm afraid there isn't anything I can do for you. You could ask your fellow passengers to turn off or dim their lights but it's their choice - you can't expect people to read without a lamp. The man across the aisle turned away - and continued reading. The woman on his left didn't look up from her book. Have you an eye-mask? That might help?

He didn't have an eye-mask for the simple reason that his wife had forgotten to pack it. He'd texted her and she admitted forgetting it, adding that he could do his own packing in future if he didn't like it.

Can I purchase one? he asked. She gave him a price and he said no thanks. It was skyway robbery at that price. He laughed at his own joke but the stewardess didn't. Is there anything else? she asked. He shook his head.

There was an airline magazine in the pouch but even the titles of articles turned him off - 10 Best Views in Asia - From Crop Sprayer to Jet Pilot - The Hotel of Our Dreams - Top Tips on How to Travel in Comfort. He didn't have to read that piece to know that somewhere on that list would be an eye mask.

He took the magazine out of the rack, ripped off the front cover carefully, then folded it longways. He put it around his head covering his eyes. It cut out the light but he had to push his head back onto the seat to hold it in place. Do you have an elastic band? he asked the woman beside him. She looked up, and giggled at his mask. No Honey, she said. But I have an eye mask if you would like to borrow it? She brought out a black mask with a embroidered design on it. What is that? he asked of the pattern. It's my hero, she said, her American accent suddenly obvious. Donald Trump. Make America Great Again was spelled out in gold with a smiling Donald, his thumbs up below it. He almost said no but then he thought, what the hell?

He put it on and settled back in the seat. At first he was comfortable but over time he realised that the mask was heavily scented with the woman's perfume. He tried to ignore it but soon he was tasting the peculiar smell on his tongue as well as in his nostrils. He took the mask off. Thank you, he said to the woman. But I can't settle. He handed her back the mask. She brought out a small plastic bag from her purse, folded the mask in two and put it inside. She then sprayed her hands with antiseptic and rubbed the liquid thoroughly into her fingers and palms. He felt like asking which disease she thought he had. She saw him looking at her. Mites, she said and turned back to her novel.

Mites? He angrily pulled the torn magazine from the pouch in front of him and reached up to put on his reading light. The man across the aisle was in darkness, his book stowed away. Growling, he lifted one flap of his Foo Fighters mask. Can you put that off please? he said. Some of us are trying to sleep.


About the Creator

Wilkie Stewart

Writer of strange little tales living in Glasgow, Scotland. A former IT professional who loves literary fiction, poetry, Eurovision, art-house film, post-crossing, and comics. Walks daily with his camera when he can. @werewegian1 on Twitter

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Comments (2)

  • Mackenzie Davis12 months ago

    I read this days ago and didn't have the opportunity to comment! The dialogue choices were great. Makes it feel like everyone's voices are muffled by the airplane engines. I also really liked the tiff between the main guy and the reader-turned-napper. Exactly the kind of resentment one feels on a plane. You'd think we'd have more patience for each other, given that we're all on the same it seems we get even more selfish and disrespectful in that environment. Well captured, and well written! I like your style.

  • Kayla Lindleyabout a year ago

    I like how this was set up! The only real critique I have is that it was sort of hard to follow when characters were actually talking, and when they were thinking things! So in the future I would maybe try to break it apart and use quotes when talking. But overall I really loved this!

Wilkie StewartWritten by Wilkie Stewart

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