Flight #347

by Jay

"Attention all passengers, AA flight 453, with service from London, Heathrow, is now arriving at gate 14 in the International Arrivals Terminal. Flight AA 454 will be boarding in 45 minutes from Terminal B3 with service to London Heathrow."

I heard the announcer over the airport loudspeakers. I asked myself why they would make that announcement in Terminal A1, the United Terminal. As I watched airplane after airplane land and takeoff, I wondered why I was going to LA. That's right, I wanted to see Mike. It had been almost six years since I last saw him when he moved to the other side of the country. I was glad my mom let me go by myself. I really wanted to go by myself. He had had a rough life. He had a older sister but she died in a car accident. His parents got divorced soon after that. He and I were only 15. Sad. Ces't la vie.

When the hell were they going to call my flight? It should have boarded 15 minutes ago. Was I at the wrong gate? Am I in the wrong terminal? Am I in the right airport? I shook my head to clear it. These past few weeks had been a lot on my mind. Ever since I got Mike's letter, saying two things, he would love to see me this summer, and that he was gay. At first I wasn't sure if I had read it right. But it was definitely gay.

I am not saying I am a gay basher or anything. It was something that I didn't expect from him. What were the chances of that happening? 1 in 6? 1 in 10? Who knows?

The loudspeaker cut of my thoughts. "Attention all passengers, UA flight 347, with service to Los Angeles, will be boarding in 15 minutes, from gate 106. All passengers for UA flight 347, with service to Los Angeles, please check in at the United counter and then proceed to gate 106 for seat assignment, if you have not already done so."

Well at least I was at the right gate, terminal, and airport. And since I am going by myself I get to board the plane early and since I paid for part of it I get to fly in Business Class. I had my seat assignment done already. I got a window seat. So I have the essential for flying, the window seat. It helps me to think, watching the land, or the sea, or what ever is 33,000 feet under me.

Once again, the person at the gate cut my concentration like a knife. "Attention all passengers. We are going to begin boarding now for UA flight 347, with service to Los Angles. At this time we would like to welcome aboard any passengers under the age of 18 and any passenger with disabilities."

That was my call. I was apparently the only one under 18, because I was the only one up there at the time. Oh well.

The plane left actually on time. Boarding began 15 minutes late, but the flight left the gate at exactly 4:45. As the DC-10 taxied to the runway, I saw an airplane take off, Lufthansa, probably flight 404 to Frankfurt. I heard it over the loudspeakers, that it was going to leave at the same time as this flight. In it I saw a girl about my age, for a second, looking out the window. She saw me for a second, and smiled slightly, as if she were wondering where I was going. Then the Airbus Industrie A340 pulled away, going at full speed, toward Frankfurt. At that time, the stewardesses came around to see that everyone had their seat belts fastened, and their trays up, and seats in an upright position. Then the plane turned on to the runway. It paused for a moment, and then with what seemed like all 3 engines at full power, roared down the runway. I saw the terminals, in a flash. I saw another Lufthansa airplane, maybe it was flight 406 to Berlin, taxiing to the runway, another Airbus A340 to Europe.

The plane was going real fast, and then it lifted of the ground. I saw New York city, and I also the Ikea, where I got a lot of my furniture for my room. And as the plane got higher in the air I realized that I was going to see my friend. I took out his letter inviting me, and a picture he sent me. My friend. My gay friend. My gay friend that I was going to see after six years. My gay friend that I was going to see after six years who now suddenly seemed so cute. This was going to be a long flight.

They had just served a snack of salad, soda, fresh fruit, cranberry orange bread, and Godiva chocolates. I was watching a show on my 6" personal video screen, listening on my complimentary headphones. I lay back in my electronically controlled seat with a 40-degree pitch. So this is what I paid the extra $120 for. Oh well, not that much of a waste.

This part of the cabin wasn't full. In fact there were only 10 people in this part of the plane. But economy was pretty full. I was glad I did fork up the extra money, because I got two seats to myself. I gave me room to think. I at that time noticed that I had to do a lot of thinking to do.

I always thought of him as a friend, nothing else. Even though I was surprised that he was gay, I never thought of him as anything else. I wasn't that shallow and petty. I figured that he didn't think of me as anything else. Or did he? Who knows? I don't. So what if he did? It was no big deal. Was it? For some reason, I thought of a verse in "The Sign" by Ace of Base. The verse that went "I saw the sign, it opened up my eyes. I saw the sign. Life is demanding, without understanding." That did seem true. Life didn't seem to care, it just did whatever it felt like. The flight was now passing over Pennsylvania.

Dinner was being served. I got some prime rib, a Caesar salad, dinner rolls, and some more chocolates. Afterwards, I got some coffee, and some really yummy cookies. I could get to like this. The plane was passing over St. Louis, and there was still a good 3 hours left. So once again, I sat down to confront this little issue that sprung up as the flight took off from Newark. I thought he was cute. So what if I did. That doesn't make me gay or anything. I had a girlfriend, and we liked each other a lot.

But still, I never noticed how cute he was. So maybe I did kinda like him. There isn't anything wrong with that. It's not like I "wanted" him. He was really just a friend. A very good friend. And I was going to be a friend. He must be going through hell, starting the coming out process. I did feel bad though. I hope he would have an easier then most gays that you sometime hear about. You know, gay teens committing suicide, discrimination, and general dislike from society. It is a mean, and a cold world.

The flight was on approach to Los Angeles International Airport. I already had my seat in the upright position and all those little things. As I looked out the window, I thought about everything I had thought about on this flight. The stewardess was reading out the names of United flights that would be leaving soon, in case anyone on the plane was making a connection to Seoul, Sydney, or Hong Kong.

I was waiting for them to land the damn plane because my ears were ready to explode. He said he would meet me at the airport. I finally decided that who cares if he is gay. He is still my friend, no matter what. I would definitely stand by him, even thought I was only going to see him for a week. But at least he would know that he had an unconditional friend.

The landing gear was being lowered. Five minutes later, the plane touched the tarmac. I saw a Boeing 747-400 land, probably the one from Seoul. It was dark outside, not to dark though, I could see the sunset over the airport. It was beautiful, the sunset that is. 10 minutes later, the plane got to the gate. Since I was under 18, I got off the plane first again. I spotted him, standing there patiently.

I was so glad to see him. He was also. He had grown. And I still thought he was cute, but I didn't care if I did. I told him it was brave of him to tell me that. He said it was brave of me to even to come here; he wasn't sure what I would think of him. I told him I really didn't bother me one bit. Together, we went to baggage claim to get my bags.

As we did I heard the airport loudspeakers. "Attention all passengers, UA flight 347, with service from Newark International Airport, has arrived at gate 74. All passengers please proceed to baggage claim to claim you luggage. Please proceed to Claim Area 4 to claim luggage from UA flight 347."

Jay is a 15-year-old sophomore in High School. He loves to write and surf the net. He has traveled a lot, so that helped him in writing this story. He has never traveled in Business Class, but this is what all the airline ads make their Business Class seem like. He can be reached at Polaris242@aol.com.

©1996 Oasis Magazine. All Rights Reserved.