by Amy Dollery
THE emergency exits are to the front and to the sides of the aeroplane. Please take a moment to locate your nearest exit. If you want to continue your suicidal plan of loving a man who has a wife and two children, we suggest you take the exit to the left. If in a dramatic bid to escape, you have left your career, your friends and your family, to become of all things a Horse Trekking Guide in New Zealand, when you know as much about New Zealand as you do about Prince Philip’s arse, then take the emergency exit in front. Please be aware that the exit behind you, which would have been the sensible and normal option of splitting up with the boy and getting on with your life, is no longer available. Regardless of which exit you would prefer to take, please now assume the crash position because really that is where you are heading.
As the plane takes off I order another gin and tonic. It came free with the cost of the ticket, so why not? If you think about it I was just recouping my money. My dad, who has always had a very strict eye on money, would be proud. Admittedly he would probably be more proud if I hadn’t just squandered my house deposit savings on a flight to New Zealand but you can’t have everything. My mother at least would be pleased I was drinking a gin and tonic and not lager. The weekend before I left, she had read something about lager causing bloating, which in turn causes premature ageing and ultimately cancer. My mother, influenced by Google, believes everything ultimately causes cancer. Gin and tonic is acceptable because currently its cancer causing properties have not yet been identified and perhaps even more importantly it is a lady like drink. If I think about it she may even consider it stress relieving, which is good because I currently could definitely be defined as stressed, and as we all know stress causes premature ageing and ultimately cancer. My mum would only be proud if I had finally found a husband, or at least a boyfriend, or even a “ friend”. I don’t think she would mind about the gender, if grandchildren were still around the corner. But I guess if she knew she was nearly the proud owner of two step grandchildren because her hussy daughter was sleeping with a married man, she would be proud I am instead just drinking gin.
How I see it, if you have already made the catalogue of mistakes that have led you to my current ridiculous situation, you may as well be drunk as not. It will be the least of your mistakes. In fact gin may actually be beneficial, because when I do arrive feeling terrible, it will be hard to tell if it is because of my pathetic, wrung out heart, or just the result of a hangover. Somehow a hangover seems more socially acceptable. Anyway gin drinking makes a nice change to the continuous crying I have indulged in for the first 12 hours of the flight. I knew it had gotten bad when the man in the tweed coat sitting next to me, noisily demanded to change seats before and I quote “her continuous sniffling and self pity causes me to lose my mind”. No, gin is the much better option. Gin is my friend.
Eight hours later when I am awoken by turbulence, from a dream where Rod Stewart is dressed as a cowboy, eating Jammy Dodgers, I am suddenly acutely aware that gin is no longer my friend. The tension and anxiety in my stomach have joined forces with the turn-coat gin, and my only friend now is the paper bag tucked behind the duty free magazine. This notion is reinforced when the air hostess takes away the now full paper bag and shows no friendly tendencies at all.
As the aeroplane eventually starts to descend, the knowledge I am heading to the deepest darkest South Island of New Zealand, on the basis of one, slightly dodgy email, hits me again. Now I am here I can’t believe I didn’t even have the state of mind to follow it up with a phone call and at least try and check they were a bona-fide company. As the plane accelerates towards the cold tarmac and the rain slashes harshly at the windows, I become convinced this is actually a scam. I am clearly on my way to be sold into the white slave trade. Trafficked off and never to be heard off again. Oh God, my mother will never be able to live down the shame. But then another slightly more positive thought strikes me. If someone did take the trouble to kidnap me, it would at least imply someone wanted me. Tony didn’t want me, well not enough to give up his wife. The tweed man didn’t want me and the Air Hostess had not been near me since I had been sick. If someone did kidnap me, I would at least feel valued. But then I start to feel panicky again. What if the slave trader sees me and decides he doesn’t want me? I mean I am not looking my best. 12 hours of crying followed by 12 hours of gin drinking will do that to a girl, and I am aware I probably smell a bit of sick. Oh God, what if even the slave trafficker rejects me? “Sorry love no one wants a puke smelling, ginger mess”. That really would be the ultimate humiliation.
The plane bangs down on the concrete runway and I grasp the lady’s arm next to me, my anxiety becoming overwhelming. Whatever is out there in the dark and rain cannot be good, and I am not ready to face it. I decide I am just staying put. They can’t make me get off this plane if I refuse to go and I am going to refuse to go.
The doors open and I leave with everyone else. I don’t want to cause a scene after all.
© Amy Dollery 2016