FICTION
Turbulence
Ally Bush

Photo by Suhyeon Choi on Unsplash

Photo by Suhyeon Choi on Unsplash

Linda always got the aisle seat. She liked having easy access to the bathroom and to the flight attendants.

Frank always took the window seat. He liked not talking to anyone and watching the world go on below as if he weren’t a part of it.

But now it was dark, and they wouldn’t be flying over any cities anytime soon, so the window was useless. He shut the visor and leaned his head back to take a nap.

“Kinda cold in here, don’t ya think?” Frank heard Linda zero in on her fourth target.

The man was across the aisle from her, balding and wearing tennis shoes with his jeans. A child sat next to him, eyes darting left and right as he watched a movie on his iPad. The man glanced over. “Yeah, I’d say so.”

Linda grinned. “So where ya headed?”

“Orlando, same as you.”

“Oh, how fun! Are you two going to Disney World?” She spoke the last two words a bit louder than the rest, glancing over at the child to see if he heard.

A flight attendant walked by. The man grabbed her by the arm and asked for a beer.

“No,” the man said. “Actually, we’re going to visit my parents. It’s their 50th wedding anniversary.”

Linda gripped her heart, as if the thought of familial bonding was too much for her to bear. “That is so sweet.”

The man turned in his chair to look for the flight attendant. She was coming back down the aisle, beer on a plastic tray. She was two rows away, reaching for the can when the airplane fell out of the sky.

It only fell for a moment, but it was enough to make her drop the can and for the whole flight to collectively gasp.

The pilot came onto the intercom. “There seems to be just a little turbulence up ahead folks, please return to your seats and buckle your seatbelts. Thank you.”

“Oh, God,” Linda said, shaking his arm. “Frank, Frank wake up. There’s turbulence.”

Frank cracked an eye. “Okay. What do you want me to do about it?” He sighed and closed his eyes again.

Another bump. This one rattled the overhead compartments. A baby started crying.

“Oh! That was a big one, wasn’t it Frank?”

“Uh-huh.” 

And then they were free-falling. For three full seconds, passengers lifted out of their chairs, lights flickered throughout the cabin, and one flight attendant fell to the floor with a gasp. The pilot yanked the plane back up and gravity hit all at once. That’s when the retching started.

The balding man reached for the paper bag in the seat back in front of him while Linda screamed Frank’s name.

“Frank! Everyone’s throwing up!”

“I can see that, Linda.” He certainly wasn’t going to be able to sleep now.

The plane hit another bump. It was the smallest yet, but it must have sent the woman directly behind Linda over the edge.

“Where’s my paper bag?” she screamed.

Linda’s jaw dropped. “Frank, she doesn’t have a paper bag. If she vomits it’s going to get all over my shoes.”

Frank leaned forward. Ah, yes. The shoes that cost $300 that he told her not to buy. Those shoes.

“Frank, do something!” Her fingernails were digging into his arm. Apparently, he didn’t act quick enough because a moment later, Linda shouted to the whole cabin. “Everyone! My husband’s a doctor! He can help!”

“I’m a nurse,” Frank said.

“Why do you always have to argue with me?”

“I’m not arguing with you. I’m just stating a fact.” He didn’t move to get up.

“Oh, that’s rich. Well, if ‘stating a fact’ means you saying something irrelevant to the current problem just to get out of fixing it isn’t arguing, then by golly I think we have different definitions of the word.”

“Oh, screw you, you always get what you want. Why can’t you accept that you might be wrong for once?”

Before Linda could respond, an expletive sounded from behind, followed by the wet noises of the woman emptying her stomach onto the floor.

Linda glared at her shoes, now splattered with vomit, and then at Frank. “I want a divorce.”


Ally Bush's interests include color-coordination, green beans, space, and rehearsing what she has to say at a drive-thru 10 minutes before I get there.