This was looking good so far: when the stewardess set my transport case on the window seat, I wasn’t too hopeful. I couldn’t see out the window, for one thing, and I was the third group to board. But as the Bigs kept filing past and filling up the back and struggling to fit their clearly illegal carry-ons into the overhead compartments, I started to sense that the process was winding down and I may just have scored the holy grail of airline travel: a seat to myself!
What were the odds? And if I had a seat to myself, then maybe the stewardess would even take me out of my case when the seatbelt light went off and set me up by the window, or at least place me on the tray so I could get my slant on with a rail gin-n-juice and a genuine Biscoff cookie. I could only have a sip of one and a nibble of the other, but that’s still living pretty large. Between that and my Bluetooth headphones picking up the equivalent of the wide-screen TV on the seat rest ahead of me, shit, I was basically in a luxury hotel with nothing to do but live up to my worst expectations for four hours.
So no sooner did I have my expectations nice and inflated before some young woman in a salmon T-shirt and yellow ’70s court tennis shorts (men’s) shuffles between rednecks, turns, and plants her butt in the seat beside mine. And I checked: it wasn’t a great butt. It wasn’t like I got to see the spectacle of a blossoming rear, round and full, turning like a planet beside me before it thundered heavily into the cracked vinyl upholstery. It was a slim, efficient, pooping-only line of musculature that disappeared efficiently behind the armrest as soon as it arrived. The woman pinched her knees together and folded her elbows, and immediately began chewing upon the cuticles of her right index finger. I rolled my eyes and looked away: at least I still had the Bluetooth option. I certainly had four hours of podcasts to drill through, or music if I wanted to doze off during this flight. I didn’t expect a lot of help or sympathy from this wound-up bag of nerves beside me.
Everyone got settled, kids were crying in the far back, and some asshole two rows behind me was watching videos on their phone at top volume, no headphones. It sounded like home movies of accidents, with that obnoxious royalty-free music and their savage, unsympathetic guffawing at each injurious spill. Shit like that depresses me, other people’s suffering and anguish is our entertainment now. What have we come to, that we can only feel good by comparing ourselves to the misery of others? “Yeah, the gub’mint shut off my utilities and my voting station’s deactivated, and my veteran husband lost his benefits, but at least we ain’t this fat, brown motherfucker falling down the stairs!” I snorted in my little acrylic case, wondering whether all of civilization should be razed and the earth salted, Old Testament style.
The woman next to me started gnawing on a new finger. She wasn’t especially pretty, or maybe that was all the self-absorption. Not that I need to intrude, but sometimes if I’m stuck on a long flight with someone, I like to make a little conversation. Not the whole way through, just enough to get to know someone and learn something new, if I can. But it didn’t look like she was open to conversation. Social conventions out the window, with this new generation. Head down, eyes averted, an entire generation of paranoid and prejudiced strangers. I’d be bowled over if we lasted long enough to breed and create another generation. And if we didn’t, would that really be a loss, I thought as the phone two rows back started playing the treble end of guitar shredding.
The stewards did their “here’s how your seatbelts work” ritual, demonstrating the air masks—which I know for a fact are pointless, since I saw the selfies of those assholes on a plane that was going down, and those stupid idiots wore them on their noses like dollar-store pig masks, despite how many hundreds of times we’ve been through this routine—and all that noise. I lounged rebelliously in my little acrylic case, and the girl (sorry, woman) beside me knotted herself up and stared through all the seats in front of her.
Eventually, at great leisure, the plane finally started to back out of the terminal, turn laboriously upon the tarmac, and roll out to our runway. The woman beside me turned pale, and only then my dumb ass realized something larger was at work. I started kicking one of the acrylic walls, hitting the button to flash the LED light atop my case, and it took too long for her to notice me.
She looked down at me, as though half in a dream. Her blonde hair was knotted back in two rows, some kind of Midwestern/Nordic reinterpretation of pigtails, and her cornflower eyes were almost impatient as she picked out the details of my travel case. “Can you let me out?” I screamed, theatrically curling my hands around my mouth, smiling between words. I even waved my arms in hemicircles over my head, very comical and friendly, I hoped.
The girl looked like she was deliberating before she finally unraveled one of her arms and reached out to flip the latch on my case. She swiveled my roof back almost meditatively, and though I held my arms overhead in a gesture of greeting for her young, numb fingers, she still paused as though unsure what she was doing. Her whole face looked like she was observing herself remotely: expressionless, slight concentration, slight disapproval of her own actions. There was definitely something going on with this one.
“I’m sorry, I don’t know what you…” Her voice was trance-like, slightly husky.
“If you don’t mind, you can just hold me in your hand. I trust you.” I smiled extra-wide for her. “I just need to get out of that damned box, you know? Can you imagine being in the middle of this incredible flying experience, and you’re trapped in a little box?” I laughed deliberately, not hiding its deliberateness, to try to engage her.
Nothing. Cabinet of Doctor Fucking Caligari, from this one. She said she didn’t know, but she flattened her palm for me. I rolled up and sat up and hugged one of my knees, stretching my other leg out in the very picture of casualness. I had to look performatively casual for her, since she was very obviously at the other end of the comfort spectrum. And so we went:
—Where are you from?
—North Dakota. University of North Dakota.
—Oh yeah? What brings you out here?
—Oh! You’re in agriculture. Do you specialize in weather-resistant seeds or are you breeding cattle?
That got a sidelong glance out of her. “Cattle, actually. You heard about feed yard disease?”
Because I’m so curious about everything, I had, actually. I recited a couple case studies of some vaccination problems I’d read on a college website, and she transformed. Her fine, translucent brow loosened up, and her pupils actually seemed to focus upon me. She started to ask about gram-positive bacteria, and I was ready to respond, when we lurched back. She was thrown into her seat, more than the other passengers, and her soft, thick fingers clamped around me. Her palm began spewing moisture like a lawn sprinkler, though the temperature of her flesh went down, and I realized what I had to do.
“Hey!” I screamed in her grip, as the engines outside shrieked. “Hey, big girl! What’s your name?”
Her face had frozen in fright. I shouted at her again, kicking at her ring finger. She barely shot me a sidelong glance. “Caitlyn.” She spoke in the clipped tone of someone trying not to vomit.
— Caitlyn! Wow, I love that name, Caitlyn. Would you believe I’ve never met a Caitlyn before?
She shook her head, and the corner of her mouth twitched.
—Seriously. I know it’s supposed to be a common name, but I guess I don’t get out much.
—I know another Caitlyn.
—Is it common in North Dakota? I’m, like, right next to your state but I’ve never met another one.
—I don’t know.
—That’s cool. So, what do you do for fun in North Dakota?
—Drive down to the Twin Cities.
—Ha ha! Yeah, I can see that! I was in Fargo once.
She focused on me again, as the front wheels left the tarmac.
—Yeah, a friend and I drove out to visit a goth club before it shut down.
—A goth club? In Fargo?
—It turned out to be a decommissioned Jiffy Lube. There was a DJ booth in one end and a kind of carpeted dais on the other.
She laughed quietly and said that sounded about right.
The rear wheels left the ground and I saw the tendons lining her jaws bulge.
—Hey, tell me what you do for fun.
She stared ahead, her eyes glazed, and her chest shuddered with involuntary gasps.
—Caitlyn. Tell me what you do for fun. Hey, look at me. Bring me up to your face.
Her massive head slowly turned toward me. I could almost hear the sand grinding between immense millstones, in some ancient Sumerian mechanized god-construction, as her perfectly expressionless visage slowly spun to face me. Her pupils were tiny, her mouth hung open, and all her concentration went to drawing the next breath.
Robotically, her hand lifted toward her face, carrying me to just in front of her mouth and just below her nose. She didn’t turn her face down, and her glassy expression was partially obscured by her rosy cheekbones. At a distance she would’ve been cute in a corn-fed, Midwestern way; up close, she was a monolith of an expired goddess, carved in a long-forgotten aesthetic, and the only universal trait remaining was that of profound threat.
—Caitlyn? Talk to me. Tell me about something that makes you happy.
There was a long, very long pause.
—I miss my grandmother.
—Yeah? Tell me about her.
Her eyes transitioned from sightless to hazy.
—I used to spend summers at her house. We’d bake bread and make quilts.
—I’m sorry for asking, but is she dead?
—No, she’s still in Tioga. I just haven’t been able to visit her since I left for school.
—That’s awesome you have a close relationship with your grandmother. All my grandparents are dead. The last one died last year.
Her soft blue eyes flickered toward me, as I lay in her sweaty palm.
—I’m sorry to hear that.
—It was a merciful end. Alzheimer’s, the long goodbye. She’s at peace now. That’s how my family sees it. Perhaps we’re more pragmatic than most people are.
She grinned, weakly, independent of anything else in the blank field of her face. I was speaking to something deep inside her, encased in a meat-frame of terror.
But I worked on her. Where most guys would drill at her with stories meant to impress someone, I just asked her questions. I wanted to bring her out of her shell, finding out what she cared about and, specifically, what brought her joy. I asked her more about those things, hoping to get her to relive the sunnier moments, the events that touched her heart.
—I’m terrified of flying, she said.
She focused on me.
—It’s true. It never gets any easier. Every single time we take off, I can’t relax until, like, five minutes after we’ve left the runway.
—Yeah, done this dozens of times. I never relax. Actually, I wanted to thank you for holding me this time. Usually it’s just me rattling around in this cage, riding it out on my lonesome. I really appreciate you helping me with this.
The corners of her lips curled up slightly. Briefly.
And on and on we went. We talked about school, how to get jobs, interesting classes she’s taken, how boys suck. Oh gods, that’s a limitless topic: going on about how guys assume everyone has their motivations, how guys think physical violence is an appropriate reaction to most situations, how guys feel so persecuted because ape-like behavior is on the decline and they’re expected to participate in mature, intellectual society, to say nothing of emotional vulnerability. I asked her about each of these things, instead of contributing my own stories.
I asked, and I asked about what I asked, and the huge, dear girl began to soften. Her smiles were wider and warmer, her laughter became less strained. Sometimes she’d even stroke me with her fingertips like I was a worry-stone. She chewed her nails off into ragged edges, and there was a jagged speckle of polish in the center of each nail, but her rounded, soft fingertips were a real pleasure to receive from the back of my skull and down my neck, almost to my pelvis. I tried not to moan, lest I dissuade her with my inordinate pleasure.
Caitlyn held me up near her face, so she could hear me over the roar of the upper atmosphere over the shell of our craft. She held me close to her lips, so she could mutter and still be heard. Her breath washed over me, warm and sweet, like she’d had a cinnamon roll in the terminal before boarding. Her teeth were white with cloudy accents. Her incisors still had the ripply edging of youth, which I found endearing: they weren’t clean, smooth teeth, they were still a little crude and earnest, guileless, unpretentious. That’s what teeth mean to me, at my size. I might have liked her less if they were straight and even along the biting edge, and clearly bleached. I wouldn’t have been able to relate to that. I like the coffee stains around the edges, I like the hairline fracture running diagonally across the enamel of the number eight. This wouldn’t mean anything to the gigantic people, but I love a mouth that looks lived-in.
She was who she was, and I was slowly falling under her spell. I was open to her, more open all the time, picturing the scenes she described and interpreting the heat radiating off her neck and out of her mouth as a plasmoid form of emotion, if you will. Her metabolism was transmitting emotion the way you can feel life in the tube drawing blood from your arm at a Red Cross donation. Touch that warm plastic tube, and it feels like you’re literally sharing your life with someone who needs it. That’s what I was reading in Caitlyn right now, holding me so close to her mouth, her puffy, chapped lips, that soft, rounded pink tongue darting between her incisors to accentuate certain points. Yes, my breathing slowed and my eyelids drooped, and I was about to ask her to pop me inside her mouth, if she wouldn’t mind too terribly, just for a minute or two. Had some business to take care of.
I looked up and saw her pupils contract into little dots. A massive, dark shadow was creeping along the curved wall across the aisle, as though a massive underwater beast were gliding beside a boat; behind me, from back to front, bright windows winked out one by one. Caitlyn’s mouth started to open wide, and I screamed at her to calm down, to please tell me what was going on. Suddenly her tongue wasn’t as cute, and the opening to her throat wasn’t as sexy. Suddenly her maw was a threat and I was right outside it.
“What is that, what is that,” she rasped in the quiet before hysteria. I ordered her to show me and she thrust me promptly to the window above my transport case. Once my eyes adjusted to the glare of direct sunlight, I saw outside the perfect nightmare.
First it was red lips, reddish lips. I don’t know what people call red anymore. The upper lip dipped in the center, peaked, and spread out in a thin, sharp grin. The shadow I saw was not from the smiling head but from the immense hand that had reached out to let the entire passenger jet drift into its grasp. That’s how big a thing we were talking about: it could anticipate where we were going to be in a minute, send out its palm, and we were helpless to do anything but slide straight into her broad palm.
Her. I knew that smirk, that bobbed hair.
Alarms went off. The entire passenger list shrieked and yowled in unison, arms waving, babies crying. The engines whined higher and higher until the crew shut them off, because it was clear we were going nowhere in her hand. There was no point in burning out the engines when they weren’t achieving anything gainful. The captain’s voice crackled over the PA system, babbling as he walked us through the breakdown of his psychology. He had to report what was going on—we were in the slowly clenching fist of an immense woman—but there was no way he could accept that. It was impossible, but it was just as hard to explain why we’d killed our engines at 30,000 feet.
“Caitlyn,” I cried, waving my arms.
The young woman brought me up to her face, almost as though she were going to pop me in her mouth. I gestured behind myself, hoping she’d intuit the door three rows up.
—Caitlyn. Caitlyn! Please take me to the emergency exit. I know what to do!
—I can’t. I can’t. I can’t.
—Caitlyn! Please, I can save us all! You have to get me to the emergency exit.
—The exit, you big, beautiful girl! Please, undo your seat belt, get up, and take me to the emergency exit. It’s our only chance!
Unbidden by her conscious self, her free hand wandered down to her pudgy belly and dug its fingertips in the clasp, jerking it free in one spasmodic tug. She began to rise: I watched the muscles rippling beneath the baby fat in her thighs, I saw how her abs tightened behind her T-shirt, as she slowly canted forward and started to push herself out of her seat.
“No, you can’t do that!” One of the stewards came hobbling forward. “Miss! Miss! Please remain seated until further instructions from the captain!”
Caitlyn resumed her seat but I screamed at her. “Caitlyn! Tell the stewardess what I told you! Show me to her!” Without a clear emotional investment in the process, blank-faced Caitlyn twisted at the waist and hoisted me into the aisle, before the wrinkled, spray-tanned face of the stewardess. I screamed at her too, explaining I knew how to get us out of this, that I was particularly prepared for this precise scenario. “This is my hour,” I sang, appealing to her sense of a good story.
The older woman’s eyes darted left and right, and in failing to pick out a better solution, she nodded once and stepped back for Caitlyn to rise. She called for the passengers to please get out of the way, escorting Caitlyn up the aisle. Caitlyn held me before her like a lantern, and the passengers we passed gawked at me. I saw their huge eyes, their hanging jaws, the unspoken protest against unreasonable things as a tiny man was being led up the aisle. Why should this little wretch get free access when they were being scolded to stay in their seats? Sometimes their fright turned to anger, resentment, glaring at me as we surpassed row after row until we reached the entitled fucks with extra leg room.
“Excuse me, sirs, but I must ask you to clear this row,” crowed the stewardess.
Of course they didn’t like this turn of events. Why should they, they demanded. What’s going on anyway, they demanded.
The stewardess had more experience than they had resentment. “You, sirs, will evacuate these two seats immediately, or there will be federal marshals waiting for you at the gate! If we ever reach the terminal! This tiny man is our best hope of getting out of here, and if you don’t get out of our fucking way, I will strangle you to death with my own bare hands!” Highly inappropriate for the service industry, but it did the job, and the two lumpy rednecks rolled out of their seats and hovered uselessly in the aisle.
“Come on, Caitlyn,” I called up to my girl. “You’ve got to do this.”
Her eyes were glimmering with tears. “I can’t, I can’t. This is insane.”
I flagged the stewardess, who wrapped her bony fists around the door handle and tugged it up in a tight arc. Immediately, high winds whistled around the seams. Caitlyn stepped back. Her arm drew back into herself, lodging me right between her breasts.
—Caitlyn! I need you to trust me! I can get us all out of this safely, but I need your help!
—I can’t! I can’t! This is too much! I can’t!
—Caitlyn! You have to! If you don’t, what’s going to happen next will be worse than anything you can imagine!
She shrieked, a long, mournful peal of high notes.
—I’m sorry, I misspoke. But please, Caitlyn, I need you to be strong right now.
—I can’t, I can’t!
—What did you love most about your grandmother’s house, Caitlyn?
—When you visited. What did you love most? Didn’t you have any kind of childhood tradition?
—What about them?
She slowly stepped toward the door. The stewardess stared at us intensely, clocking her reaction, watching for my cue.
—Every time we visited, we’d pick wild strawberries at her house.
—Good. Did she grow them? Were they big and plump?
—No, of course not. They were wild. They were hot, red little beads growing in the summer afternoons, on the edge of the forest.
—Good. Keep going.
She stepped closer to the door. The stewardess gave the handle one last, hard tug and the door dislodged and pushed out. Chilly air blasted in, and passengers screamed their disapproval.
—She said we could eat as much as we wanted, but we had to come home with a full bucket.
—Did you? Were they good?
—I never did. I never ate any of them until my bucket was full, and me and my brother would bring them back to her house, and she’d bake these little pies for us.
—That sounds amazing, Caitlyn. I really wish I knew what that was like.
She told me it was amazing, as she stepped out of the door and onto the wing. The stewardess wrapped her bony fist in the back of her T-shirt, and Caitlyn’s other hand held onto the door frame, and she slowly extended her arm with me, out into space.
There was a huge, healthy fist wrapped around the entire passenger jet. The webbing between the base index knuckle and the thumb stretched before us like the sail of a ship. It was a matter of a minute before it constricted and cracked through the protective shell, crushing everyone inside. All that for a moment’s fleeting entertainment. Between that and the sharp grin, the bobbed hair, I knew who we were dealing with.
I cupped my tiny hands around my tiny mouth. “Nyx!” I hollered.
The immense head rotated through space like a planet, turning a starkly beautiful, merciless face toward me.
“Nyx! This is Aborigen, I’m on this flight! Can you hear me?”
The glowing, catlike eyes dimmed slightly, and her brow furrowed in recognition.
“You know I would never ask this, or anything, of you if it weren’t important! Please, let these people go!”
One fine eyebrow raised into a porcelain forehead. Her whole head loomed like a massive, elegant alien mothership, so far away from the plane and so far above the earth.
I turned to Caitlyn. “How are you doing, girl?”
Her face was livid in terror. She was staring at something that made no sense to her, on top of stepping out onto the wing of a plane more than five miles above the earth. To her credit, she didn’t curl her hand up into a fist, crumpling me like a paper cup. She held her palm out, as flat as her trembling nerves would allow, one thumb raised for me to clutch for support. I told her to hold on, told her she was doing great.
“Nyx, can you hear me? Please let this load of people go, just this once. You can demolish any other plane in the skies, but if I have any chips with you, I’m cashing them in now. Just let this one go!”
The astoundingly immense giantess’s crimson lips tucked up to one side. She wanted to know why she should listen to me at all.
“Look at this girl, Nyx.” I gestured with an arm already tiny to the North Dakota undergrad holding me, but fucking microscopic to the immense majesty of the woman before me. “She’s terrified. If fear is what you crave, you’ve got the fear of thirty grown men in her.”
The giantess grinned, her teeth flashing in the sunlight, in the perilously thin atmosphere.
“But look at her: as scared as she is, she carried me out of my seat and stepped out onto the wing of the jet, miles above the ground, just because I asked her to.” I licked my lips, struggling not to look down. It was 30,000 feet to the Normies, but it was exponentially worse for me. One good breeze could whisk me around the globe in minutes. “She is only out here, risking her life in defense of a hundred others, because she believed me when I said could make a difference. Can you respect that?”
“Are you fucking kidding me,” cried the stewardess behind us. But my girl held firm, thrusting me into the stratosphere, now standing with both feet on the wing of the jet (and one hand white-knuckling the handhold inside the door).
Like rolling thunder, the giantess spoke. “Make her come to me.”
My guts began to dissolve into water. “I can’t do that, majestic Nyx. She’s already at her threshold. I’ve already asked far more than anyone could of her.”
Powerful jets of air gusted from her slim nostrils, as her lips turned up cruelly. “Make her come to me, or I’ll think of something fun to do with you.”
My blood turned to ice. I could barely turn toward the young woman who supported me in the palm of her hand. How could I possibly ask her to do more, pushed to her limits as she was? When I looked at her, the first thing I noticed was the rigidity of her expression, as though a terrified woman had been flash-frozen in a glacier. The other thing I noticed was the portal receding behind her.
“Don’t,” I croaked. Any errant breeze could sweep me out of her palm, or knock her off of the jet wing. And then we’d tumble slowly toward the waiting earth, while all the passengers simply crumpled and exploded within Nyx’s cruel laughter.
Caitlyn stepped upon the broad wing, one ringing footstep after the other. I stared at her in a mixture of horror and amazement. “You’re doing it,” I said. “You’re really doing it. You’re a hero, Caitlyn.” There was absolutely no indication that she heard me, but we kept creeping our way out onto the wing, surrounded by nothingness, within arm’s reach of the world’s most notoriously cruel giantess.
“Stop.” Nyx’s voice broke like thunder. Caitlyn’s sneakers paused between the engines. Winds whipped around us, tugging at her T-shirt, making her retro shorts flap in tight little snaps. “That’s enough.”
In the midst of all this, I blinked very slowly. I had never, ever heard Nyx suggest that anything was enough before.
As we gaped into space, the wickedly beautiful head slowly nodded. “You’ve proven your bravery to me, little one.” Her voice flowed like a chorus of lions purring. A huge, glistening, pink tongue poked between the thin lips and slid lazily across their span. “Your fear is delicious. That’s more entertaining than anything else, for now. Go on back inside.”
Was this a trick? I looked from Caitlyn, standing rigidly, to the massive giantess hovering so coolly beside us. One catlike eye slowly winked, I presume at me, and her canine glinted in a smirk.
“Now, Caitlyn, get in there. Soon as you can.” Her fist wrapped around my entire body, and she turned and bolted back into the jet, sneakers ringing against the industrial aluminum. The stewardess, shocked wordless, sealed the door back up and latched it with the help of the burly guys ousted from their extra-leg-room seating. The stewardess ran to the cockpit, screaming for the pilots to fire the engines, and they’d only just gotten up to an urgent whine before the huge fingers flexed and loosened their hold on us. The entire jet sagged, dropping to a chorus of anguished passengers, but the jets pulled us along and soon we were on our way. The colossal woman in a leather bustier and skin-hugging leather pants blew us a kiss, then turned her attention to stomping the ever-loving shit out of whatever city we’d flown over.
We arrived at our terminal no more than 20 minutes late, but all alive, which was the main thing. Everyone congratulated Caitlyn, who only returned to life once we’d taxied and killed the engines. They hauled her luggage down for her, they cleared a path for her in the aisle, and they shook her hand and hugged her in the terminal.
I received some of those hugs, as she’d stashed me in her bra just to have both hands free. I clung chastely to the strap between her budding mounds, breathing heavily to try to calm myself down, before her pudgy little hand came searching for me.
“I want to thank you for your help,” she whispered urgently. We sat in the hard plastic seats of the gate, as dozens of grateful passengers flowed nearby. “It really helped, you talking with me the entire time.”
—I didn’t want to be overbearing.
My modesty felt affected, in the face of our cumulative near-death experience.
—No, you helped me take my mind off of the flight. I’m terrified of flying.
—You have to know, not all flying experiences are like that.
—I don’t know what happened there.
—Well, there’s this giantess I’m friends with. It’s kind of hard to explain, but we…
—No. You getting me out there on the wing. That was insane. I shouldn’t have done that.
—You probably shouldn’t have.
—You’re telling me this now?
—I’m just agreeing with you. I wish to gods we didn’t have to do that.
—But I did. I did, I fucking did.
—I put my foot out on the wing, and I walked along the goddamn wing of the jet, right up to the engines.
—Yeah, you did.
—Right into the face of the giant woman who wanted to kill us all.
—Whoa, hey, calm down there.
—I put myself out there… in nothingness… in the face of…
—Easy! Caitlyn! Come back to me! Look at me. Listen to my voice. Can you hear me? Bring me up to your face.
—Caitlyn, you were an amazing hero today. You are a hero. You saved all our lives.
—You saved our lives. How do you know her?
—Long story. But you’re a hero, a real hero. Do you get that?
The young woman raised me to her face and puckered her chapped lips and mashed me into the center of them. I received them in the spirit intended, and I even stretched out my arms and hugged her fat bottom lip, as her nostrils gusted panting breezes upon my shoulders and back. After a minute, a long minute I think, she set me upon the hard, black, plastic seat beside her and asked me if I’d be all right, before rising unsteadily to her feet and stumbling, trancelike, toward the baggage carousels.
I called the airport PRT on my Kobaretto and scooted on out to the street, where a Knapa hustled me on home. I lay upon a bed thousands of sizes too big for me and stared at the ceiling, trying to calm my breath. I’d have to send a thank-you note to Nyx, at least, for letting us all go. And even though I caught Caitlyn’s full name from her ticket, sticking out of her pocket, and looked her up by her school on Facebook, I decided to leave her alone. Better that she walk away from this incident, entirely, and lose herself in looking for the reddest berries outside her grandmother’s forest.