Niyantha Shekar
3 min readJun 20, 2013

“Do you mind bringing the shutter down?” she asked.

“It’s beautiful out there,” I said.

“I’m afraid of heights.”

“Hmmm, we’re at 30,000 feet.”

“My dad once threw me into a pool that was twenty feet deep,” she said.

“Were you OK?”

“I was until he told me the pool was twenty feet deep.”

“I’m sorry.”

“It’s OK. Well, not really. You know why?”

“You’re afraid of heights, and we’re on an airplane.”


I turned my attention to my laptop.

“What are you writing?” she asked.

“A short story,” I said.

“I write too these days.”

“You do?”

“Yeah, I’m working on a mystery series,” she said. She looked out the window and took a deep breath. “The first novel starts with the protagonist, a retired detective, moving to Bartlesville to get away from it all. But then there’s a diamond heist and he can’t stop himself from getting involved and helping the city fight crime.”

“Sounds fascinating.”

“I may be overwhelmed by the clouds floating outside your window, but I heard the sarcasm.”

“I’m sorry.”

“What’s your story about?” she asked.

“I don’t like to talk about what I’m writing.”

“Are you afraid I’ll steal your story?”

“Of course not. I’m sure your protagonist’s got enough adventures in Bartlesville to keep you occupied.”

She started to tap the edge of her tray table.

“Stop doing that,” I said.

“You should write about us,” she said, still tapping.


“Now don’t say us like that. You know what I mean.”

“I really should get back to…” I pointed at my laptop.

“I skimmed through what you’ve written and it’s pretty flat. Now if you wrote about—”

“—It’s flat?”

“Like a plateau.”

This is so like you.”

“Being honest?”

“No, being mean.”

“Would you like anything to drink?” the flight attendant interrupted.

“I’ll have a Coke, please,” she said.

“I’m good, thanks,” I said.

“It’s free, you know?” she said leaning in.

“I’m good, thanks,” I said.

“You guys look great together,” the flight attendant said.

“He doesn’t think so,” she said.

“You two would have just the cutest babies… if you don’t mind me saying,” the flight attendant said.

“Actually, I do mind quite a bit,” I said.

“He gets like that sometimes,” she said.

The flight attendant placed the Coke on her tray table.

“Have a good rest of the flight,” the flight attendant said and moved her cart one row forward.

The airplane jolted.

“It looks like we’re heading into some turbulence,” the pilot’s voice appeared. “Fasten your seat-belts, hold on to your drinks and tell yourself ‘we are going to be just fine’.”

“Oh shit,” she said.

“We are going to be just fine,” the flight attendant said, moving her cart back one row.

The airplane jolted again. She spilled her Coke all over my jeans.

“Ah shit,” I said.

“We are going to be just fine,” the flight attendant said.

“No, it’s not that… it’s—” I pointed to my jeans.

“Oh you poor thing. We really are going to be just fine,” the flight attendant said.

“No, it’s not – I didn’t – ah fuck me. She spilled her drink on my jeans.”

“Oh, I’m sorry. Would you like another Coke?” the flight attendant asked her.

“Yes, please,” she said.

“Thanks for your prayers. We’ve made it through the turbulence. Now that wasn’t so bad was it,” re-appeared the pilot’s voice.

She twirled the ice in her drink.

“Happy?” I asked her.

“Very,” she said.

“How’s the Coke?”

“Flat. Just like your story.”