“Please fasten your seatbelts and enjoy the plane ride to Middlanowhere, Kansas.” Margaret held in a sigh as she walked back to her flight attendant seat between the first and business class. Her last plane ride as a flight attendant for Starboard Airlines had just begun. By this time tomorrow she would be relaxing in her hot tub enjoying retirement.
As she passed by the lavatory, the handle was clicked to the locked position. Frowning, she rapped on the door. No one answered. Maybe her co-worker had closed it for take-off. Shrugging it off, Margaret plopped down onto the leather seat, kicked off her heels, and pulled her itchy blue skirt trying to make it longer. “These skirts are too short for women over sixty.” She huffed pulling out her compact mirror and examining herself. The silver roots of her hair shown in the glow of the overhead light and make-up creased into her wrinkles as the engines roared to life.
Her heart pumped to the speed of the plane faster and faster until the wheels left the ground. She patted her breast. “Better than liquor.”
Beep! Beep! The orange customer help button flashed on the panel before her. “First class flyers are so needy.” She grumbled snapping her mirror shut and slipping on her shoes. Before leaving her little nook, she plastered on a fake smile then started up the aisle.
As she passed the luxurious tan, leather seats of first class, a man with salt and pepper black hair raised his hand to catch her attention. His dark eyes were the color of melted chocolate. He had some wrinkles, but for the most part had aged handsomely. The seat beside his was empty. “How can I help you, sir?” She asked with false, high-pitched politeness.
“I was wondering if you could keep me company. I seem to have an empty seat beside me.” The man gestured giving her a dazzling smile. Margaret glanced over her shoulder. No one seemed to be paying attention. The business man across the aisle was engrossed in his laptop.
“I’m sorry. I’m not really supposed to…” She said.
“Ah, I understand. It’s no problem. It’s just…I’m afraid of heights and I could tip you generously.”
It was Margaret’s last day…”Alright.” She smiled a genuine smile and sat down beside him. “I think I sat on something.” She frowned and stood up to see what it was: a golden, shiny tube of blood red lipstick. “Is this yours?”
The man took it from her hand and inspected it closely. “No. That’s odd. Don’t planes get cleaned between flights? I’m sort of germaphobic.” He edged to the front of his seat scrutinizing his chair.
“I assure you, Sir, every seat gets wiped down and inspected thoroughly.” She took the tube of lipstick and put it in her pocket. “I’ll try and find the owner when I bring around the food cart.”
The man settled back into his chair. “So, Margaret, do you like champagne?”
“How did you know my-“
“Right,” She smiled. “Yes, I do like champagne. What’s your name, Sir?”
“Nicolas.” He reached over and pressed the flight attendant button.
Margaret started to get up. “I can get you champagne if you like.” He put his hand on her shoulder to stop her.
“You should be waited on like a lady.” He told her.
Margaret’s co-flight attendant made his way towards them. His eyebrows pulled together as he saw Margaret and the man seated together. “May I get you anything, Sir?”
“Two glasses of champagne, please.”
The flight attendant nodded shooting a quizzical look at Margaret. “He won’t tell, will he?” Nicolas asked.
“No, he’s a friend.”
Margaret nearly choked. “No. I live alone. I’m retiring soon. Today is my last day actually.”
“Then this should be a celebration.” Nicolas declared taking her hand with his. He raised it to his lips and something on his finger flashed in the light. A golden band encircled his left ring finger.
“Here’s your champagne, Sir.” The flight attendant handed Nicolas the glasses and Nicolas handed one to her.
“To your retirement.” Nicolas clinked her glass with his and took a deep gulp.
As the flight attendant walked away, Margaret hissed, “You’re married!”
Nicolas choked on his champagne. “I beg your pardon?”
“I see your wedding ring!”
His face turned stony. “Is that a problem?”
“Yes!” She gasped.
“I don’t see why as I’m paying you to be here with me.”
“I’m not a prostitute! I’m a flight attendant.”
“Where is your wife?” Margaret demanded.
Nicolas cracked his knuckles. “She’s just a little plane sick.”
Margaret’s eyes widened. She dropped her champagne glass shattering it on the floor. Leaping from the seat she ran to the bathroom door and yanked it open. A woman’s pale bruised body tumbled out into the aisle. Her emerald eyes were wide open and an empty pill bottle rolled out of her lifeless hand.