He holds her hand.
She so very much loves it when he holds her hand.
They stand together in the gondola of an airship. His airship. The city stretches out below, then flows behind. She catches the silver band of the river with her sharp eye. And look at those treetops on… are those the mountains? She’s been in that city so long she’d forgotten just how majestic they are.
She starts as they hit turbulence. Nothing wrong, he assures her. Indeed the airship cuts through it competently. Yet it lasts and lasts, buffeting them.
You didn’t tell me the turbulence had gotten this bad.
He shrugs. Not much to say.
You promise you’ll be there? She essays again.
I’ll be there.
And he kisses her cheek one of those rare instances where she can sense his fluttering uncertainty. But she does not let on.
She holds on instead.
She spends so much of her time in a state of fright. Frightened of something happening to him, terrified of the fog swallowing him up. Scared of her own life, catching up to her all too quickly.
Nonsense. To face actual fear, an ersatz is needed. Such as this stomach-churning airship ride. Hard to believe he now does this for a living. But now her immediate physical reaction to this flight dominates her thoughts, leaving no more room for more pressing and ominous concerns.
He has gone off to the cockpit to take over again. He and the copilot can be seen through a small portal. She peeks in. They pull levers and press buttons.
And now the turbulence is gone and they glide serenely over the plain, the sun setting behind them. In a few hours the lights of the Capital will shine in the distance. Until then, she should try to sleep.
Late at night he crawls into the bunk beside her. There is a portal near their heads and it maps out the shadows of a young planet below: rivers and lakes and far north, glaciers not yet properly explored. The people on this planet stay in their bubbles. The bubbles have not burst yet, but their walls are tenuous.
The air currents slide by. Silence unfolds.
Story + image © 2016 Clio Em.