Chapter 34

Ray couldn't sleep on this plane right now. His hands were itching for a thug to do, for a soldering iron or a screwdriver. Something to make that would help him think I'm his way through what was happening. 

“Can I get you something?” The stewardesses were freaking ninjas, he almost jumped clear out of his skin. 

He was hungry. So hungry. His stomach was not adjusting to the new time zones.

“I'll take the quinoa salad please? And a glass of orange juice.” She nodded and sped off. He pulled his magazine out and lounged back in his cot with a magazine and tried to read. 

Maybe they wouldn't reach Russia in one price. Would the IJS shoot down a whole plane to take care of their little mistake? Would they kill all these people just to make sure his friends would be too dead to tell the world their stories?

There had been plenty of people who'd worked for the IJS and who'd gone mysteriously missing, the IJS had been suitably sad without opening an investigation into the incident. It had worried him for months, making his mind take off on different paths, trying to figure out where the government was hiding things from their people.

He realized he'd read two whole pages without the words actually registering in his mind. 

A steaming plastic bowl of quinoa was placed in front of him, along with a cold cup of orange juice. He smiled his thanked at the stewardess and dug in, relishing the warm grain and vegetables. 

He hadn’t had the guts to tell the others about his veganism. They weren’t to blame for not knowing about how it hurt him to eat an animal, or cheese or dairy. How it wracked him with guilt to take the life of a single spider, even if it bit him. He knew that they’d all have something to say on the matter, about nutrition and how he didn’t have to because they animals didn’t have souls. But he felt like they did. He felt like he was taking them away from themselves if he even ate an egg.

He finished his dinner with satisfaction and leant back in his cot again, happy belly full for the first time in days. He could see Alex from where he was and knew she’d cried. He’d dared not get up and console her, in case someone was watching and would put it together about their identities. Was it too much even being in first class together?

He stood up and went to go sit next to her. She took her ear buds out and smiled at him.

“What’s up my buddy?” she’d always called him that, before she went off to the war. The war on poverty that had left no one more rich than when they’d left.

“Just couldn’t sleep.” He smiled. “You?”

“Obviously, no.” She smiled at him. “Sleeping on planes is hard enough as it is, without crazy amounts of stress to top it all off like an acid soaked cherry.”

“Good metaphor.” He smiled.

“Thanks.” She said. “I am quite proud of that one.”

“I really missed you.” He said, finally letting it out. And it just rolled out of him like a tidal wave. “When you went off to be a soldier and left me. You were one of the only kids my age in our family, and then I had no one. And I couldn’t talk to anyone about how cool all this stuff was that I was learning. And I tried to write you, but most of what you said was coming back censored. And it was annoying and I hated what you were doing and so I thought I hated you. But I don’t I love you so much and…” His eyes were filling with tears and he couldn’t stop them or the words pouring from his lips. Alex leant forward in her cot to comfort him and he finally let her just hold him.

“And then you got shot and mom and dad couldn’t take me with them, because there wasn’t the money and I had to wait to hear if you would be okay. And you were, but then they told us that you went crazy and I knew they were lying but I couldn’t do anything about it because it’s the government and I had to lie to you and I hated myself and I hated them and I hated what you had to do…” he trailed off. He was sobbing, now; the tears taking over his body. She held him and rocked him back and forth, humming into his ear. She’d one that so many times when they were little, when he was hurt or sad or scared about the monster in his closet. Her arms felt just as much a part of home as his mothers arms. She was his sister.

He sat up, wiping the tears from his eyes and trying to smile. She handed him some tissues she’d gotten from the stewardess earlier.

“I’m sorry.” He didn’t know what else to say. “I don’t know why I did that. Or, rather, why I did it now.”

“Sounds like it needed to happen.” She smiled “Or you were going to explode. You can tell me anything, Ray. I’m your sister.”

“Not anything.” He smiled. “There are somethings you don’t want to know.”

“I don’t think that’s right.” She smiled and punched him gently on the shoulder.

“You’re wrong there.” He grinned at her. “There are some things that girls should not know.”

“Oh!” she punched him again. “Gross! No! Like touchy feely crap. That’s the stuff you can always come you me with. Not the touchy stuff.”

“No one said anything about that.” Ray was laughing at her disgust as he goaded her on. “You said it, not me.”

“You were alluding to it and you know it!”

“You don’t know that!” he said. “I could be talking about manly things that women shouldn’t know about.”

“Like what?” she crossed her arms. “Protein powder? Cigars? Scotch?”

And somehow, the jokes and the tears made it all better. And he napped next to her until the stewardess made him move back to his seat. And he drank his orange juice and fell into an unrestful sleep.

Zoe FleischerComment