Plans Don't Always Work Out
10TH OF JULY
I grab my handbag from the overhead compartment, hang it over a shoulder and rub the sleep off my eyes.
“Halfway there, bitch!” I say as I nudge Em in the shoulder. My voice sounds rough after so many hours of terrible sleep on the plane.
“I’ve heard Dubai’s airport is amazing, I wish we had a longer layover here!” Em’s voice sounds as sweet as ever, and while I feel like I’ve been run over by a train after the long flight, Em still looks amazing. Her ivory skin is flawless, even though she’s not even wearing any make up.
The queue starts moving slowly, and we advance through the airplane’s aisle. I’m dragging my feet a bit, my whole body sore and numb at the same time.
“Oh, damn.” The words escape my lips before I can even think about it.
“What’s wrong?” Em looks at me with worry in her eyes. “Did you forget something?”
“No, that guy is stationed at the end of this aisle” I say as I try to hide behind the tall guy in front of me.
“Lucas, the guy from the boarding desk?” Emma asks as she stretches her neck and looks over. The queue stops, a few ladies ahead hauling their luggage from the overhead compartments. “I thought you liked him,” adds Em in a sarcastic tone, and then she winks at me.
“Oh, don’t get me started! It was all your fault!” I laugh a bit despite the anger, and take a deep breath.
When we were boarding the plane, Emma decided it would be a really funny idea to make me flirt with the guy from the desk. Let’s just say, I couldn’t do it, and it was embarrassing, but to make it worse, he was actually the one looking after us on the plane.
“A couple of hours ago,” I tell her, “He was the one who came over to do the meal service, you know? And I was asleep, and I’m pretty sure I was snoring… and he tapped my shoulder,” I look back at Em and see that she’s already kind of laughing, biting her lip not to make it too obvious, so I finish the story talking as fast as I can.
“And I said ‘yes mum, I’m going’. And then I actually opened my eyes, and realised I was on a plane, with that guy staring down at me… and I had just called him mum. I don’t want him to see me ever again! This is so embarrassing!”
“Oh, I can’t believe I missed that!” Em cracks up laughing then, and I look to the front, too scared that Lucas is going to hear her laughter and look our way. I cover Em’s mouth with a hand and beg her to shut up.
“Okay, I got a plan.” she whispers as she pushes my hand down, grabs me by the wrist and pulls me over and between the seats in the middle, making it all the way to the opposite aisle.
Then she opens up her bag, and takes out a scarf.
“Oh my,” I say as I press a hand to my mouth trying not to laugh. “I can’t believe we actually did this! What a silly idea this was!” I add as I look at Emma over through the mirror.
Em looks at me with forged pain in her eyes. “Hey! You were the one that was too scared to face Lucas!, I think my idea was fantastic, and he didn’t recognise you after all.”
“Yeah, cause he couldn’t even see me!”
I laugh at my reflection again. My head is wrapped up in a bright turquoise scarf as if it was a hijab, a couple of short strands of hair poking out after we ran to the toilets all the way from the gate. I take the scarf off and hand it back to Em, then pull my toothbrush out of my handbag and quickly brush my teeth.
“Okay, we should get going!” I say once I’m done. “Let’s go find the new gate.”
After walking around the huge airport for a few minutes, we reach the gate and sit down on a couple of armchairs while we wait for the second plane to be called to board.
We mindlessly play on our phones for a while, and I text mum to let her know that we made it halfway across already.
“Is it me, or is the plane delayed?” I ask after what feels like an eternity.
“No idea,” Em replies barely looking up from her screen, “What’s the time?”
“It’s time, that’s what time it is,” I say nervously as I look at my wrist watch again, “I’m going to find out what’s going on.”
I walk over to the gate and have a brief but stressful conversation with the lady at the desk. As I return to Em’s side and slump loudly on the couch, I feel defeated.
“There’s some kind of issue, so they don’t have clearance to depart yet, she said to keep waiting and to be patient,” I tell her in an annoyed tone, “Do I look impatient?!” I add.
“I’m gonna lose my shit,” Sam says while she paces back and forth in front of me, making me feel dizzy. “How bad can our luck be? Delayed? Come on!”
“Chill Sam, and just sit down, you’re driving me nuts, you’ve been pacing non-stop, do you see anyone else pacing around like a maniac?”
She looks around as if considering this. There’s hundreds of passengers lazily lying around. I think a few of them seem a bit annoyed, or concerned, but no one else is pacing the way Sam is. I mean, I love this girl dearly, but sometimes she drives me nuts.
Probably noticing that I’m right, she sits back down with a grunt and crosses her arm over her chest. She pouts her lips like a little girl throwing a tantrum and I almost choke trying to contain the laughter.
It’s not even 15 minutes before Sam’s voice brings me out of my little bubble again.
“How do you do it?,” she says anxiously, “how can you keep your cool like this?”
“It’s easy,” I say, “I just picture the worst case scenario, and then find reasons why it’s not that bad,” I add with a shrug.
“Not that bad?” Uh oh, she sounds like she’s on edge. “What if they cancel the flight?”
“Then we’ll get onto the next plane,” I explain in a calmed tone. “As I said, not that bad.”
“And what if that other plane gets cancelled too?”
“Unlikely,” I reply as peacefully as I can, hoping to transmit some of my calmness. “But if that happens, then we will get on the one after that one.”
“But what if-” I cut the next question by pressing my index finger against her lips.
“Shh, shhh, shhh,” I say as I press my finger a little bit harder. Sam’s eyes open so wide that I really struggle to keep myself from laughing. “Then we will get on the one after, or the one after, or the one after, and if none of that works, then we’ll get on a plane going back home: that is the worst or worst-est of case scenarios.”
Content with my own answer, I lean back against the armchair, put on my headphones, and leave a confused looking Sam to think about what I just said. I’m pretty sure I can see the ghost of a laugh on her lips.
I get another few minutes of peace before Sam’s voice raises above the music.
“That’s it,” she says. I turn around and see that she’s laying on the couch looking like a broken ragdoll. “If they’re gonna cancel it, then our itinerary is ruined.” I take a deep breath, take my headphones off, and turn around to fully face her.
“If they cancel it, then we get on the next plane, I told you, worse comes to worse, we lose one day in New Zealand, but-” I make a dramatic pause, gesturing with my arms for Sam to finish off my sentence.
“But... we lose a day in New Zealand? There’s no good but in there!”
“But we’ll win a day in Dubai!” I say excitedly. “How cool would it be to get to see Dubai?” I stand up, unable to stay still any longer just waiting and wondering as Sam freaks out. As I open my mouth to say that I’m gonna go sort this out, a voice reaches us from the loudspeaker.
“All passengers from flight AB684 from Dubai to Auckland, please report to the gate for arrangements to be made. We repeat, all passengers from flight AB684 from Dubai to Auckland, please report to the gate for arrangements to be made.”
Before Sam can say a single word, I extend my palms towards her, making it impossible for her to get off the couch. This is not a boarding call, they said arrangements. I know what this means.
“You stay there,” I say, “I’ll sort this one out. You just wait.”
I head over to the counter and wait in line until my turn comes. It’s a quick chat, but a fruitful one.
“Everything is sorted!” I sing happily as I approach an anxious looking Sam. She’s lying across the armchair, her legs hanging on top of one of the armrests, her head resting on the other and her hands covering her eyes. I need to make a huge effort not to laugh.
“Are we departing soon?” she asks, looking at me through her fingers.
“Not really, the flight was indeed cancelled as there’s a big thunderstorm in New Zealand at the moment and it was deemed unsafe to fly,” I say with a shrug, trying to convey that this is not a big deal. I fail, because Sam’s eyes open up wide in horror, and she twists to get into a normal sitting position. “But do not panic,” I add quickly, “We’ve been accommodated on the next flight,” I make a small pause. Sam’s shoulders relax a little.
A cheeky smile spreads on my face at the knowledge that even though I’m super excited, Sam won’t be too happy about the news.
“Which leaves tomorrow night,” I finally spit. “So we have pretty much 24 hours left here to enjoy the magnificence of Dubai!!”
I clasp my hands together in a little excited clap, trying to convey as much happiness as possible into the news, and then I drag Sam over to help her to her feet. I put my hands on her shoulders, squeezing gently but firmly.
“No more complaining, okay? Yes, it sucks that the flight has been cancelled, but I hear Dubai is absolutely amazing, and,” I add as I let go of one of her shoulders to take a bunch of papers from my pocket. I wave them in front of her face as I keep talking. “We’ve got accommodation sorted, vouchers for all our meals and even transport from here to the hotel, all covered by the airline!”
I know Sam feels like all our plans are ruined, but I also know she’s trying her best to believe me, to believe that this is not the end of the world. She smiles a little as we make our way to the airport security check to get our suitcases and head over to the shuttle that will take us to our free hotel.
Paperwork is done smoothly, we find the shuttle easily enough, and after a little 10 minutes drive, we find ourselves at the entrance of a luxurious looking hotel.
“Oh, wow, this is nice!” says Sam surprised.
“Not bad for a freebie,” I add with a wink.
We walk into the hotel, and tall ceilings and big golden chandeliers greet us. The lady at the desk hands us our keys, and suggests we go straight into the dinning room for dinner, as they will be closing up the kitchen soon.
We walk into the restaurant, and I can’t help but notice the lush open space with it’s little tables for twos and fours scattered around a huge buffet right in the middle of the room. Nothing I haven’t seen before, but having Sam next to me makes it a little more exciting. At that precise moment, my stomach rumbles, so I fasten my pace to reach the food.Through the corner of my eye, I can see Sam heading over to find us a table first. I chuckle.
Oh, Sam, we’ll get there, I’ll teach you how to enjoy yourself.
We are holding onto our too-full stomachs and dragging our feet as we reach our room. Em swipes the card on the reader, opens up the door, and we walk in as the lights turn on automatically, and a voice coming out of nowhere greets us to our suite.
I drop my bag loudly on the floor, my jaw dropping, while Emma just casually walks over to the other end of the bed, a huge grin on her face. We reach opposite sides of the bed at the same time, an infinite space seeming to stretch between us as we both nod almost imperceptibly, and then we jump in unison onto the biggest bed I’ve ever seen in my life.
“This. Is. Perfect.” Declares Em as she enunciates every word separately.
“More than perfect!” I clarify, the room is spectacular.
As I lay under the blankets an hour later, the lights off and Emma quietly snoring next to me, I try to calm my brain down so I can sleep. The adrenaline is still rushing through my body, but resting in the most comfortable bed I’ve ever been on in my entire life, I think that maybe, just maybe, things not going exactly according to plan might not be the worst thing in the world.