"UGH! Great!" I huffed to myself running down the bustling corridor. Of course, it was peak pollen season and my allergies were flaring up again just in time to ruin my spring break vacation; that is if I even make the flight at this point.
My eyes were scorching like I touched them with the world's hottest chili pepper. And let's not talk about my nose; when I woke up this morning with my nostrils feeling like it was a rotting corpse in a bone-dry desert, I didn't imagine in the snap of a finger I'd be transported to a water park from hell. And I'm pretty sure I look the part of a cocaine addict with my bloodshot eyes and constant sniffling as I try not to keep my focus on the security officer eyeing me as I place my luggage on the conveyor belt.
At a snail's pace, I slowly walk through the metal detectors and flinch as I set the alarm off. "Oops! Sorry!" My hot-mess self reaches in my back pocket and takes out my cellphone. Smiling pitifully at the security guard, I throw it in the bucket of electronics just before it passes by.
"Are you carrying anything else on you today, Miss?" he asks.
See, I knew he thought I was on drugs.
"Only if you count allergies," I laugh at my own joke which he doesn't find funny so I try to suppress the last laugh which results in a pig snort. "N-no, sir." He waves me on and I quickly gather my items and run the rest of the way to my terminal.
I spot a small convenient store on the way to the gate and immediately rush in. Strutting down the aisles on a mission to find the allergy medicine that has worked for me before but I don't see it.
"Boarding now, United Airlines Flight 225 to Hawaii." The loudspeaker rang and I rushed to the checkout counter to speak to the clerk.
"Excuse me!" my voice echoed in unison with someone else's and I turned to see the most dreamy blonde-haired blue-eyed tan and chiseled man standing next to me.
"Sorry," we both spoke again, only I managed to stutter like a flustered mess. As if the world was out to get me, a tickle shot up my nose forcing a sneeze to release, followed by another one, then another one, AND another one.
"S-sorry! Y-you...g-go...fir-first!" I backed away sneezing uncontrollably into the crook of my arm as the man looked on in slight horror. Perhaps he thought I was sick, or viciously diseased that would spread on a plane and soon infect the entire world in a flesh-eating virus! He paid for his items and Mr. Dreamy was on his way.
I stepped up to the counter out of breath but afraid to breathe to trigger another sneezing fit.
"I need Claritin. Do you have any in the back?"
"No," the clerk spoke promptly, irking me a bit.
"Are you sure? Can you double-check? I really need it and my flight is boarding now."
"We're all out. We have Benadryl." I let out a sigh trying to show my irritation towards this 'clerk jerk'.
"Fine!" I grabbed the box of little pink tablets that would have me knocked out with drool flowing from my mouth; but then again it's a twelve-hour flight and hopefully whoever is sitting next to me would prefer a sleeping bear over a sneezing squirrel. I threw the medicine in my purse and ran to my gate just as the loudspeaker announced the final boarding call.
Cramming my body through the small aisle with my giant beach tote doubling as my purse and a carry-on that is just about bursting at the zipper; anything to avoid those costly checked baggage fees. Every seat is taken and I'm shocked to see in the distance the same Mr. Dreamy from the store up ahead with the seat next to him open. I look down at my ticket, repeating my seat number over again in my head as if I could get lost in a confined plane.
Aisle twenty. Seat E. The emergency exit row with two seats and extra legroom.
My feet stopped and I stood blankly staring as my skin heated and my breath hitched. "You again," his voice spooked me from my trance and my eyes landed on his.
"Sorry," I scrunched my nose expecting disappointment or irritation but he graced me with a smile as he rose from his seat.
"I promise I'm not sick. Just allergies."
"There's a cure for that, you know," he said with a smirk.
"Not the one I was hoping for." I pulled the Benadryl box from my purse and scrunched my nose again. He bowed his head as if holding back a laugh.
"Jenny," I replied, feeling the blush radiating on my skin.
"Let me help you with your bag." Before I could even blink he effortlessly hoisted the suitcase over his head into the storage bin above while I gawked at his flexed biceps through his tight white t-shirt.
"Th-thank you." I take my seat and quickly fumble out a pink pill so I don't embarrass myself anymore; if I do, at least I won't know it if I'm zonked out.
The stewardess spoke to the members of the plane with the same 'in case of emergency' performance and before I knew it we were high above the clouds and the seat belt buckle sign dinged as the stewardesses started around with the snack and beverage carts.
I was trying my hardest not to itch at my eyes knowing it was a never-ending road to hell but it resulted in teary eyes and excessive blinking; making me look like a patient in the loony house.
"So what brings you to Hawaii?" Scott asks turning his focus on me.
"Anyone joining you?"
"No. Well, I'm meeting my friend there. She just got transferred as a nurse." I chugged some water to soothe my tickled throat. "What about you?"
"Heading home I guess. I've been stationed there for the last year and a half. I'm a marine."
"Oh wow. Well, thank you for service," I nervously stuttered out feeling a swarm of butterflies hit my stomach. Of course, this fine-looking strong specimen was a hero to our country. "I've actually always wanted to visit Hawaii and see the Pearl Harbor Memorial."
"You should. I can give you a personal tour," he said with a side smile stirring my butterflies again. Distracted as I smiled back shyly, I rubbed my eye and realized I unleashed the Pandora's box of uncontrollable itchy eyes.
"Are you ok?" he asked concerned.
"Yea, just this allergy medicine isn't working at all. I could literally rip my eyeballs out right now!"
He subtly laughed just as the stewardess came by with the cart.
"Hi, what can I get you today?" she spoke in a cheerful Barbie doll pitch voice.
"Can I have an ice-cold glass of milk, please. And some extra napkins," he said to the stewardess dead serious and my mind short-circuited for a second.
MILK? Of all the things you can order on a plane, he chose milk? At least it was a distraction from my eyes but my mind is spinning as I contemplate what would be worse; ordering milk or a glass of V8 tomato juice? I like a nice glass of milk, don't get me wrong, but ordering it on a plane is as bad as bringing your Chinese leftovers into work for lunch! A big no-no!
The stewardess comes back happily obliging his request as she ogles his body with her eyes. "Thank you," he says politely and immediately turned to me. "Here, dip the napkin in the milk and place it over your eyes."
"E-excuse me?" My confusion burst through my mouth along with my horrified stricken face and Scott lets out a deep laugh.
"Trust me. It will soothe the itch." I give him another skeptical look but he flashes a genuine smile at me that I too easily give in to as I dip the napkin and place it over my eye.
The coldness wakes my skin, yet in an instant the painful urge to itch and gouge my eyeballs out with my fingernails magically disappeared.
"Wow! How did you know to do this?"
"It's an old wives tale that actually works. My sister has had bad allergies since she was little." He takes the napkin from my hand, our fingers brushing causing an electrical spark that he felt too because his eyes lifted and met mine. "Keep doing it and leave it there while you lean back and relax."
I wanted all the relief I could get with my eyes yet at the same time, I didn't want to close them. I wanted to keep staring at him and getting to know this beautiful stranger.
I reluctantly let my lids rest for a brief moment and thought about all the things that Scott and I could possibly have in common. I felt my lips curl into a smile as we spent the entire twelve-hour flight getting to know each other, laughing together sharing stories, and enjoying our company until the flight was over.
"I don't want to be too forward, but would it be alright if I got your number? I'd like to see you again while you're here." I felt my cheeks flush as my insides leaped with giddy joy.
"Sure, I'd like that too." I smiled, finding myself staring at his lips as I held out the slip of paper containing my number. His gaze seemed to dart from my eyes down to my lips and he leaned in reaching for the paper but cupped my cheek in his hand instead.
In slow motion, just like in my dreams, his lips pressed to mine and I tasted his minty freshness. Excitement and exhilaration consumed my body at the idea of kissing a stranger. A hot stranger who I seem to be attracted to on all levels; like a moth to a flame or like metal to a magnet. I never wanted our lips to part or this flight to end, but as usual to my bad luck, I jumped to the sound of the seat belt ding and the pilot's voice coming over the loudspeaker.
"The seat belt sign has been turned back on. Please find your seats and prepare for our final descent to Hawaii."
Opening my eyes that felt sore but the itch had subsided, sadness flooded my heart realizing that I was dreaming and had passed out from the Benadryl.
But was everything a dream?
I looked around not seeing any milk or napkins. I was covered with a blanket and the seat next to me was empty. Had I only seen the Mr. Dreamy guy in the convenient store and imagined everything else? Wouldn't be the first time. I threw off the blanket and brought my seat up from its reclined position, trying not to let the depression seep in.
"Hey, you're awake," I heard a familiar masculine voice that made my heart skip a beat as I looked up. There standing next to the empty seat was the same dashing Mr. Dreamy, the man I dreamt about now wearing his marines uniform with a stitched-on name tag that read Scott McCoy. His glowing smile took my breath away and I had to pinch myself to speak.
"Yes, sorry I slept the whole flight. I hope I wasn't a bother."
"Not at all. I'm here to serve. Even if it's to lay your head on my shoulder." My cheeks burst into red tomatoes hearing I was sleeping against him and I bit my lower lip hiding an embarrassed smile.
The plane's landing wheels extended under our feet and we hit the ground safely and smoothly. Everyone around us was already unbuckling; ready to grab their carry-ons and be on their way. But I didn't want to even unbuckle my seatbelt, never mind part from this beautiful stranger.
"Well ummm, thanks again for everything," I spoke shyly and saddened.
"My pleasure. Oh, and about that Pearl Harbor tour," he said rising from his seat and turning back to me, extending a slip of paper. "Here's my number if you're interested."
I took it with a glowing smile hoping I don't look like an overly excited school girl. "Thank you."
He bowed his head hiding the smile of his own; busying himself taking my suitcase down before throwing his small duffel bag over his shoulder. "I hope I hear from you. Just don't take a Benadryl so I can talk to you next time."
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