I am a villain.
While I could be watching the nation below me – knobbled and streaked, dappled and scratched – I am asleep, imagining these things.
There is something in me that feels sleeping on a plane is the waste of a precious gift. The opportunity for such elevation is infrequent and not given to all. As well, one never knows what one will see: inky clouds against the fading orange and pink of a magnificent sunset; a delicate string of lights in a night-black sea; a mountain peak, sitting like a newborn or a god on a scroll of clouds.
Once, I saw a circular rainbow with the shadow of my plane in the centre.
So I choose sleep when I must. I watch movies. And I stare out the window, watching our planet.
Flying from Denver to Washington recently I was drowsy. Sleep wrapped around me like the warmth of a fire. But I knew America lay outside and below me so I angled my head against the window: squares; rectangles; blotches like stains where the brown and dull green had leached out of the land; folds; creases; dark, sinewy rivers; and faraway circles so prolific they resembled a photographer’s blurs.
It was only when I saw several trees by a creek that I realised there were no others; no trees in that entire table of a landscape.
It seemed that the only end to such vast flatness could be a sheer drop, as if Edge and Nothingness might meet. Even so, as it stretched into the distance, the land became less and less substantial … so it may have simply faded away.