The Airbus cart that is transporting us home disappeared a few minutes ago. We are at cruising altitude, and as expected, I am already blissfully in the arms of Morpheus. Madrid-Orio Al Serio is a relatively short route, and I take advantage of it to recover from three intense days of ups and downs in the Spanish capital. My right eyelid and left eyelid have already come to an agreement and will only lift the blinds at the sight of the Campanone of Bergamo Alta.
I am seated in the front rows, and the cramped spaces that low-cost airlines “offer” us and the occasional crying of a baby from the back rows don’t bother me at all. Not even the fast and somewhat clumsy steps of the flight attendants, with their faithful food trolleys in tow, do. My mind is elsewhere, tasked with reimagining the bizarre vision of Picasso’s Guernica. I think it takes care of it, along with my unconscious. My brain and I are elsewhere, the REM phase has already been conquered, and the sleep is deep. I sleep. Like a child. I sleep. Like a newborn after the last evening feeding. I sleep…
Boom, bam! Clomp, clomp, bam, clomp, clomp… clomp!!!
A shuffle, the muffled sound of footsteps, fast but heavy steps coming from row twenty-three: I wake up startled.
In front of me, a middle-aged woman who, thanks to the narrow aisle, bumped into all the people seated in seats C and D, the middle seats, hurriedly reaches the front of the aircraft. The abrupt awakening, the impetuosity of the impromptu sprinter, and the decidedly unusual situation alarm all the passengers. We in the lower rows mechanically raise our heads and turn our gaze toward her; we scrutinize her, trying to interpret her movements and expressions, attempting to guess her intentions.
As she reaches the boarding and disembarkation door, she starts gesturing furiously. On the side wall, the control panel dedicated to the functions of the flight attendants stands out, sternly displaying a rather complex, multicolored button panel that showcases an array of buttons, switches, and various devices.
The woman’s hands, her ten greedy fingertips, dangerously approach the control panel. “Who is she? What are her intentions? What is she doing?” is the telepathically shared thought among the bystanders. Some murmurs.
The mind flies to the September 11th attacks in America and the horrifying accounts of the reconstructions of those events.
It all happens in an instant. Infinity. The larger of the two flight attendants pounces on the passenger, perhaps having sensed her intentions before any of us: after all, she is the one with the most experience. The two collide, their four hands intertwine, and with a skillful move, access to the control panel is blocked. The flight attendant catches her breath and shouts, “What on earth are you doing?“
Rebuked, suddenly as pale as Snow White after waking from the spell, the woman shrinks into herself. Her arms return parallel to her sides, her head tilts forward, and her gaze is directed downward. Softly, in a low voice, but not so low that it cannot be heard from row seven, she whispers, “Excuse me, for the restroom?” A long pause follows… “It’s urgent!“
“Ladies and gentlemen, the captain informs us that we have begun our descent towards…“
We land. Safe and sound.
Also published on Medium.