The Takeoff

I get excited just by sitting next to you. I spread the small blanket over my lap so that no one can tell. This is the third airplane we've been on today. We are preparing for takeoff. I've got the window seat and you're in the middle. Next to you, in the aisle seat, is a fifty-year old woman knitting something.

As the flight attendants vapidly show us how to tighten our seatbelts and deploy the oxygen masks, I guide your hand under the blanket. You move your fingers there. By taking sharp inhaling breaths, I can make my penis hop. It's like a stupid pet trick. It makes you smile.

Just as your fingers start to trace my zipper, a male attendant walks up and starts talking to the lady next to you about her knitting. She tells him that she's making a frock and for some reason I can't quite remember what a frock is. Is it like a poncho? An apron? The attendant lingers a little and I catch his eyes drifting away from the frock and focusing on our blanket. We are sitting very still and you even have your eyes closed, feigning sleep, though underneath the blanket my zipper is down and you are prying that part of me out.

"I couldn't work on something like that," the attendant says. "I don't have the patience."

I look over at the lady's hands. They quickly and smoothly work the black yarn and red needles. I wonder if knitting is like hand exercise, if it helps to thwart arthritis. Her skin does look young, soft, made of pearl. She has a rhythm going like a drummer. The attendant walks away. The plane is starting to rumble down the runway. I look up at the lady's face and she looks angry now.

Under the blanket, your hand is gripping me, moving slowly. I shift toward you so the movement isn't noticeable. We are up in the air.

"Would you like some gum?" the woman is suddenly asking us. I look up and see her chewing vigorously on her own piece. She is looking right at me and I notice that she has a very loose neck. It wiggles as we gain altitude. "It helps you from popping your ears," she says.

"No, thanks," I say.

"I'll take some," you say, your eyes snapping open. You let go of me and take your hand from under the blanket. You take the gum and unwrap it. It's a flat pink slab. I watch you put it in your mouth. I wait for your hand to return. It does, feeling cold for a second. "Thanks," you say to the woman.

The woman just nods and chews, a smile on her face as she concentrates on her needlework. I focus on it as well--the looping, the weaving, the clicking of the needle points. I'm starting to relax when the pressure comes. Your hand is putting me away as my ears pop.

About the author:

Kevin Sampsell is the publisher of the Portland, Oregon micropress Future Tense Books, the editor of The Insomniac Reader, and the author of several small books including Beautiful Blemish. He has stories forthcoming in Gargoyle, Flop Sweat, and 2 Gyrlz Quarterly.