12E. I never have a problem memorizing my seat. I just wonder why they call people in 10 rows at a time. E is always a precarious seat since it's in the middle, and it seems you have to get up twice as much. In this case the window seat person was a 12 year old boy flying alone. The stewardess kept checking on him and he was the only passenger I've ever seen use the call button. "What do I do if I have to go to the bathroom," he asked the overly made up lady in the navy blue dress. "And how long until we land?" He seemed a little naive for 12.

Flipping through an issue of the airline magazine, I forgot that I had already skimmed it on the outbound flight. I caught a whiff of Drakkar, a cologne that all the guys I knew in college including my ex wore. The seats on this plane were part of the new, improved coach class, so they gave maybe 2 more inches of leg room. Shuffling my feet around my carry on, I see the toes of a horribly worn pair of Doc Martens, one of which was duct taped behind the bottom of the eyelets. I followed them up the way Dorothy did to the Tin Man, not knowing at first what she had discovered.

Oh, shit.

Black, crackled T-shirt I remember his father had bought for him one Christmas that said "Si Hoc Legere Scis Nimum Eruditonis Habes." A pair of Limpies. No, please. Tell me this isn't happening. I can't bring myself to actually look into his face, but I know it's him.

I reach up to fluff my hair out and sink down into my seat (not that it took that much effort), feeling my body click on like a heater in the basement. I'm trying to be still so the thought of turning that little air vent above my head never occurs to me. My ears are hot. When I close my eyes, I can almost see the pink they're becoming, the sick red.

The garnet ring on his right hand chases his fingers through his now long and curly bangs. My peripheral vision is causing pain to my eyes because I'm trying to see everything I can without turning my head. I cannot believe this is happening, but at the same time I don't want to miss anything. I actually think I'm going to get through an hour sitting next to a man I haven't spoken to in almost 3 years, the only man to date who asked me to marry him. My engagement ring was also a garnet.

My heart rate will not even out. I can feel his weight next to me. He's gained a little, filled out nicely, but I didn't once ever look into his face. I couldn't even get up to use the restroom. It was one of those rare times where I wanted to be a small light fixture, out of the way but having the best view for moments like this. Of course, I thought, he is landing in New Orleans. A direct flight.

Already, right after take off, I concocted my plan for de-planing. I would make this whiny 12 year old sit until he got his bag from the overhead compartment. Until he was so far ahead of me that I would not be tempted to tap him on the shoulder and surpise him that he had been sitting next to me this whole time but didn't know it, how good I was at keeping this secret.

But I fell asleep instead. When the stewardess woke me up, both he and the boy were gone. Now I'll never know what I would have done.

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