After three weeks of playing where in the world is Emily Abbott, I’d become intimately familiar with the proper procedures for take-off and landing, read the seatback safety card enough times to identify the nearest exit within three seconds of entering an aircraft, and memorized the Sky Mall catalog from cover to cover. My personal favorites among the infinitely useless, and sometimes downright disturbing, catalog items were, in no specific order: The Human Sling Shot, which involved four people slinging back and forth at one another inside a human-sized rubber band; decorative toilet flush handles for people who want to hold onto a whale’s as they wash away evidence; and a talking dog collar with remote control, because having a human voice emanate from Fido’s throat isn’t creepy, right?
But this was my last flight, the final plane ride home. As the Boston skyline came into view it was all I could do to keep from turning on my phone and calling Luke from the sky. But years of Polite Patty training had ingrained a certain adherence to rules that I couldn’t bring myself to disregard. Besides, I had visions of the bars on my phone going up just as the plane started going down, the little device in my hand wreaking havoc with the communications system designed to operate free and clear of mobile phone interruptions. I decided, in the interest of relying on the screens and buttons and satellite navigation systems in the cockpit to deliver me safely to earth, I’d wait until I heard the squeal of rubber on the runway.
I texted Luke as soon as the plane’s wheels touched down: Just landed, be over soon.
It took a few minutes for his reply to appear: Not home, call me.
I knew my mom would kill me if I actually dialed his number right then, with 200 anxious passengers ready to trample over me to get to carousel six and reclaim their luggage. Public mobile phone conversations were one of my mother’s pet peeves.
Instead, I texted: When will you be home?
And this time the reply was instantaneous…