First prize winner of the 1st Annual Geist Literal Literary Postcard Story Contest.
We are jammed together in the sky like caged rodents and I have seen it all, know everything about you, your doe-eyed 4H calf from another lifetime, the Mars bar you stole from Nancy Green’s ski jacket, the kitchen party that introduced your face to the beauty of the linoleum. And I know that you are flying from Edmonton to Fredericton with your mother’s ashes in the overhead compartment, the funeral home’s purple drawstring bag that is surprisingly heavy, heavy as guilt. Yet your enjoyment of carrying your old mother around.
I who have seen everything am paid to be watched, to slather on eye shadow at ungodly hours in a hotel, to move up and down my radioactive miles of aisles while humming the Replacements tune, You ain’t nothing but a waitress in the sky.
Cabin service will commence if you feel it is not entirely pointless.
We do ask that you keep your mind blank as a cake when my jacket brushes you as I serve drinks in the aisle, nor should you dwell on my blouse’s talent for gaping open between the buttons. The underwear is not a gift from a jealous pilot. I bought it at Winners.
In the unlikely event of a landing on water, perfect little eclairs will drop tantalizingly close to your mouth and I will hear your perfect little squeals and call you my brave orphans.
Please secure your own mask first. Breathe normally, but in a Machiavellian manner. Your children will have your eyes but will they also inherit your secret venoms and bile? Please extinguish any hopes of escaping your exurban enclave. Does the smell of the mask take you back to Halloween?
It may appear that I am weakening under your considerable charms, winking and beckoning you into the washroom found at the rear of the aircraft, but this way madness lies. Please discard your predictable fantasy, though I do have hours hovering on spartan hotel sheets, freely testing the tiny bottles of white body lotion and feeling a strange inclination to be spanked.
When the pilot illuminates the seat-belt sign you may regret that you did not have a large dog in your jacket photo. Please press the blue call-button if you feel you are tragic and holy but not cut out for great things.
Take comfort. You can’t hear me, but my lips move; I speak only to you. Pasta or chicken; you must decide. I cannot help you. Our meal tray is like an insult, like a life, in that you cannot take it back, cannot exchange it once it’s started.
You know that you sprang from those fine ashes, your mother’s ashes. The purple bag with the gold drawstring is heavy as a drug. Thank you for choosing Air Canada, for choosing me. You mean well. Let us begin our descent.
Everyone wants only to be there, such a hurry to climb down the stairs to the tarmac, but why? Up here we are gods screaming through the heavens.