Without Words

If you’ve traveled with me or enjoyed (endured?) my travel stories, you know I usually love talking to strangers in airports and along the way. (Have I told you the one about the tall German nanny and the petite Frenchwoman that walked into Gate 7?) But my recent flight back from Vegas was just too early in the morning for any of us to feel like chatting. So I just watched. You’d be surprised what people say without speaking a word.

First stop past security was to grab breakfast at the “Royal Fast Food” restaurant, one of few things open at that hour. The woman behind me raised her eyebrows when I picked a big bottle of water out of the cooler along with a carton of orange juice.

I said, “This state dries me out.” She smiled.

Later I saw her pay for the same thing.

As Zone 5 and I headed up the ramp to the plane later, the heavy set man in front of me abruptly stopped. As he bent and yanked a sweatshirt from his carry on bag, he sent change flying. He fumbled a bit getting his bag zipped back up, so I bent to help pick up the coins. He never turned, so I called, “Do you want your change?”

No response.

Hand out, I repeated, “Don’t you want your change?”

Very slight head shake.

I met the eyes of the woman behind me and we both raised our eyebrows and shrugged. I waited a beat, then put the change in my pocket to free up my hands.

My seat was next to two men. The younger one, Window Seat, met my eyes curiously as I came toward my seat. Once seated both were most intent on sleeping through the flight. Did they know each other? I never got a clue.

Across from me were a dark-haired woman in her late thirties and an older man I took to be her dad. They held hands during take-off. When his hand later slipped to her thigh I decided, nope, not dad.

Through most of the flight I read my book, Lily and the Octopus, an unfortunate choice for a public place as the second half of the book got closer and closer to the dog dying. I did my best not to audibly sob, but did go through a couple of tissues and may have sniffed rather loudly a couple of times. But my seat mates slept on.

Across the aisle and up one, the slim woman sitting there put her book down and put her hands up to rub her face. She took deep breaths and rested her hand gently on the cover. A few deep breaths later she was ready to read again, Me Before You.

Finally we landed and people exited the plane in more orderly fashion than I’ve ever seen, everyone determined that no one behind should get ahead and everyone should take their designated turn, left, right, left, right. Apparently only polite people get up before dawn to fly.

Before long I was pulling into my garage. Heading into the house, my husband smiled and held out his hand to carry my suitcase, while my dog danced around my feet. Happily home.

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