Leaving Charlotte. On a plane. The rush of the engines at takeoff. The flight of the stomach as the plane becomes airborne. The jockeying for elbow space. The smell of strangers. The wide-hipped, high-heeled flight attendant brushing against my shoulder each time she passes. The arrogance of first class. The looking down at the little cars and patchwork farmland. The pillow clouds. The no sleeping or even relaxing. The sweat running down my back. The leap of faith in people you’ve never met to keep the metal tube adrift on the air currents. The potholes in the sky that cause the plane to bounce. Enrique the flight attendant. The free Coke. The in-flight magazine littered with the bacteria of thousands of fingers flipping through before you. The stereotyping of the Asian guy across the aisle who is traveling alone – pegging him as a ninja Sky Marshal. The slow but obvious descent. The incessant fidgeting. The wondering whether we’re going to make our connecting flight. The bumpy landing then racing across two terminals in Fort Lauderdale (“Daddy I lost my shoe!”) and cutting through the long security line thanks to the benevolence of empathetic strangers – only to learn that our plane needs a new tire. The slamming of a bad pepperoni pizza in the jetway before getting pummeled by fresh rain as we run to our puddle jumper. Twenty wet people laughing in a tiny fuselage. No obvious ninja Sky Marshal. Taking off in a cloud of gray smoke then the sun breaking through and landing in paradise. The declarations and passing through customs. A taxi to the grocery store where we stock up on provisions. The placing of our luggage and groceries on a dock with crabs and geckos and waiting two hours for a ferry to our island. Conch fritters and Kalik beer before the 30 minute boat ride across the Sea of Abaco. The docking and pilling of our stuff onto a golf cart and being whisked away two blocks to our purple and green cottage. The waiting for the air conditioner to remove the moisture from the air. The unpacking to try to make this place home for two weeks. The discovering that neither the DVD player nor the satellite TV work. The short walk over a dune to a beach that looks like a dreamscape. The gin-clear water and the coral reefs mere feet from shore. The donning of snorkels and the descent beneath the surface. The rush of wonder in the aquamarine ocean. And the silence there.

Little Things

Jim Mitchem

Writer. Father to daughters. Husband. Ad man. Raised by wolves. @jmitchem on twitter. First novel, Minor King, out now.