He was a mistake from the very beginning. Looking back to the past three years, I wondered how I could have been such a fool. They say that you cannot loose something you never had. I thought I had Joseph, but in all reality, though I did not realized it then, the man was a womanizer.
“Lady, may I sit next to you?”
I snapped out of my thoughts and quickly glanced up. What a strange question to ask, I thought. Most people flying usually find their own seat without even giving a casual glance at their neighbors.
“Of course you may have a seat. You paid for it, didn’t you?” I said while clinching my teeth. I hated to be interrupted from my thoughts.
The man stood for five whole seconds looking down at me. This is very creepy. I had the impression he would have stood like that glaring down at me if the pilot had not announced we had fifteen minutes till take off. The man slowly lowered himself to his seat, buckled up and grinned at me. I am smiling like a fool, but I could not help smiling back at him. It was like he demanded it from me or something that ridiculous.
Reaching down for my purse, I found the Juiceyfruit gum I was looking for and popped it into my mouth and started chewing, savoring the juiciness of it. Satisfied with it, I was about to put the rest away. “Would you like a piece?” I asked the stranger in the kindest voice could muster. My anger at him for bothering me was still throbbing in my throat.
“Yes, thank you. You are very kind to strangers”, said the strange with another of his smiles. But he looked at the piece of gum in my hand as if though he had never seen anything like it or as if he did not know what to do with it. “Unwrap it and chew”, I told him gently.
I had been taught to not look at people when they eat. It wasn’t my intention to watch the stranger chew his gum. I was also very conscious of the way I chewed my gum, especially in public settings. In my head I could hear my mother’s voice threatening me, “Elaine, if you are not going to chew your gum like a lady, then spit it out. No one wants to hear you smack your gum.” Now the stranger had my attention because it was the way he unwrapped the piece of gum was quite amusing. He did everything as if it were something special that needed all his attention. The airline stewardess and stewards came by adjusting safety belts here and there. One of the pretty stewardesses came to my seat.
“Madame, I need you to buckle up. We are taking off in ten minutes”,she told me in thick Kenyan accent. She did not ask the stranger to buckle up, but she did not have to. He was already buckled up. Having done as requested of me, I peaked at the stranger. He appeared to be sleeping. I swallowed my disappointment as best as I could. My disappointment was not however, long lived. While I still had the chance, I would quickly investigate him while he slept oblivious that I was watching his every breath that rose and fell from his chest.
His complexion was that of an Arab, but a little darker. His hair was long, but neat. He wore dark blue jeans over a light blue t-shirt and beautiful black cowboy boots. His physical appearance was pleasing to look at. Everything about the stranger was beautiful. His soft brown eyes looked at you as if they knew the bottom of my soul. I swallowed deeply, my heart traveling as fast as a train. The Promise. As long as I breathed I must never forget The Promise. The Promise hanged around my neck like a yoke. Pulling me this way and that way as if it had a mind of its own. History wouldn’t be repeated with this man. I would not dare repeat history with this man. I was what most people would call a slave to her own passions.
As I watched the stranger sleep, exhaustion overcame me and I was soon asleep. For three or four hours slept deeply. I started stirring that was when the feeling that someone was watching me made me nervous. I was completely a wake
“Good morning sleepy head or should I say good afternoon, but since I am oblivious to what time it is, I think I won’t wish you a good morning anything.” Rubbing my eyes with the back of my hand, I glared at him.
“If you want to know what time it is you could at least look the screen in front of you”. He smiled at me again and looked at my head.
"Sorry," I mumbled, "I bet I must be a sight with my tangled hair.”
“Please don’t be sorry.”, he said quietly
“You know, I don’t remember introducing ourselves. My name is Elaine Jackson”.
“My name is Michael”.
“Do you have a surname Michael?” I asked him
“No. Just Michael”, he replied
I turned on the small TV in front of me. I love watching movies. “The Race to Save the World” was showing. I seemed like a good movie. Michael took the hint that I did not wish to be bothered as I settled into my chair and relaxed. He looked at me and from the corner of my eyes, I saw him pull out a small black book stenciled in black bold letters. It said the Bible. If I was not so glued to my TV screen I would have asked him I he was a Christian. I took a bathroom break and an hour later Michael had his.
I checked our location on the map. I did not where Michael was going. I was going to the States for college. I had graduated from high school a month ago. College excited me and made me nervous. But as my parents had told me for the millionth time. I had nothing to fear. They had both graduated from Anderson. A prestigious Christian University. My aunt would come and check on me once a month. I loved my aunt, but because of the secret she and me hovered over our shoulders, I had come to dislike her. She was also a little hostile when it came towards me.
She did not know how to right the wrong she had done to me and I had let her do to me. My aunt blamed herself for what had happened and how she had handled the situation. I remember as a little girl how much I had admired my aunt. She was my hero. As a child I used to tell my parents that when I grew up I was going to be just like my aunt Kristen. Beautiful and self assured. They would nod and smile the way grown ups do. My aunt would swing me in her arms till I got dizzy and make me promise that I would not grow up too fast. I would nod my head vigorously like the way I had seen them do. My aunt would then wink at my mom. They both knew that there was nothing I could about not growing up.
I could tell that Elaine did not want to talk to me. So I let her watch her movie. If she only knew who I was. But that was all in due time, someday she would know who I am, but for the time being, silence is the best virtue. The thoughts that had previously crossed her mind about falling for me would have made her sick. For me it’s important to make her feel like she can trust me. Elaine Jackson is beautiful. Her black hair cascades down to the middle of her back like a water fall. Her eyes are light brown so deep and sad. It makes me wish that I could take away all the pain. Just looking at them, I can feel her anguish so deeply that it makes me wonder why he had to send me to what I thought was dirty work.
The first time that I got on the plane, I could see the way her eyes took me in. As if she had not known that such beauty could possibly exist in this world. I knew a whole lot about her than she probably knew about herself. I knew for example that she was running away from some horrible past. Only what she had no idea was that her past was also panting right after her.
The thing she did know about was me and her past were branded together. Like cows going for sale in an African market. Because you see Elaine and I are not Strangers yet to each other we are Strangers. Does any of this make sense?
I did not think so.
The love I have for her is not like the way a man loves a woman, but more like the way a… Oh never mind I’ll tell you later and perhaps you will understand why she might love… or hate me.
“How was your movie, Elaine?, asked Michael.
“Fine, thank you. It was about the “Race To Save The World”. You know the kind of movie where the bad guys are all about ending the world and the good guys are set on saving it?”
“Sounds deep”, whispered Michael.
“It was intriguing, but very sad”, said Elaine not looking at Michael
“What made it so sad? You look so depressed”, Michael said trying to not to laugh at the expression on Elaine’s face.
What made it so sad was this guy who knew the cunning ways of Evil better than Evil knew about itself. To save the world he must die. The evil ones thought that by killing him, the world would end because he could no longer influence the world with his powers. What they did not understand was that by killing him, the world was already saved and millions of his followers would spread his teachings like a wildfire to the ends of the earth. The world was already saved even before the race even began! The Evil One after realizing that he cannot compete with the Prince, that’s what the good guy is called in the movie, he goes around killing those who had anything to do with the Prince. The Prince paid the Price. His Life and thus the world was saved but without the death of millions of others”.
“Sounds like a wonderful story. It never fails to amaze me how the modern world will change any story to fit what they are more comfortable with. It sounds like one I have heard around the campfire with the ancient ones about Jesus of Nazareth”, said Michael still smiling.
“Do you mean the ancient ones from where you come, in Saudi Arabia?”
“Saudi Arabia? I don’t recall saying I was Arabian in our salutations at the beginning?
What in the world made you think I was from Saudi Arabia?” asked Michael trying very hard not to laugh.
“Am sorry so sorry. I guess that I just assumed because of your… lamented a very embraced Elaine.
“The color of my skin? Who ever heard of something like that?”
“Please don’t shout!” said Elaine turning around to see if anyone overheard them. To her surprise none of the other passengers seemed to be paying attention to them. Just as well. She breathed a sigh of relief.