The cruelty of assigned seating cornered me against a wing. At her boarding, I feigned a nod of greeting, but acted astonished by the majesty not yet below while ignoring her struggle to store her luggage. She ultimately managed as I marveled at the baggage handlers’ utter ennui beneath us and how the window’s reflection divided the task and tedium between us in Row 23.
She took her seat with a smile and I attempted to reciprocate, lifting at least my ears. To my relief, she declined the unintended invitation to talk. Instead, she wordlessly proffered a piece of gum. I meant to dismiss the stick, but the sincerity in her eyes stalled my cynicism. Though I was heading in search of warmth, I knew no climate would match the kindness expressed in her almandine irises, so I cherished our conjoining by the margins of our armrests in Row 23.