So through the monotonous, dark and turbulent exam season I persevered (or rather poor mum did with my hormonal outbursts and panic attacks), all the while fixated on the girls get-away guiding light at the end of the tunnel. Surprisingly, before we knew it, we were on our way.
Giddy and giggling with excitement, we waded through the security searches (anyone else actually start to question whether they’re a criminal here?!), drenched ourselves in fancy perfumes at Duty Free and in true student style, got to boarding late. Our punishment? We had to take any random dispersed seats we could find. Oh well, we were going on holiday! Besides, we’d all been separately trained to endure bouts of isolated boredom over the previous months and at least this time there’d be no test at the end. Nothing could diminish our optimism, or so I thought.
Seatbelts on. Plane takes off. Hell commences.
I was trapped, next to a child. Now don’t get me wrong, I adore children-the smiling, fascinated, wide eyed little munchkins- but not this child. This one was something else. As we soared above the clouds, the icy realisation trickled in; I’d be wedged in this window seat next to this fidgeting little whinger, who made it his unrelenting aim to invade my personal space, for quite some time. As the minutes crawled by, the torture intensified.
First came the question siege, progressing from the harmless ‘How old are you?’ ‘Where do you live?’ to the more testing ‘What’s your favourite Nintendo game?’ ‘How long does it take you to read a book?’ It was exhausting and each answer seemed to fuel more of the perpetual probing. No amount of the quick ‘smile and turn to the window’ seemed to deter him either. With his detached mother seemingly engrossed in her Hello! mag, he was hungry for attention; my attention.
Next commenced his operation ‘dissolve all barriers’. After feeble attempts to hold my ground with a subtle armrest battle (which failed miserably when he took to poking my arm with his sticky little digits) he decided to solidify his authority. Before I knew it, he’d lifted up the armrest entirely and begun seating his action figures upright on the seat, my side of the seat. As Spiderman’s foot dug into my thigh, I wanted to pick him up, bite his plastic head off and hurl him out of the window. But of course I did all I pathetically could; squirmed and smiled. The boy, who declared himself as Damien -of course triggering the Omen theme tune to commence in my head- shot me a daring look with his dark and menacing eyes. I felt strangely intimidated; I daren’t defy this little air demon.
As he began placing his crayons on my table one by one, I grabbed for my IPod. Perhaps I could escape through some soft soul music, close my eyes and sink into a slumber? No such luck. My headphones were broken so instead of hearing the soft effortless tone of Sam Cooke, I received a sharp electrical fizzling which spat viciously at my eardrums. Wonderful.
Then came the smell. With the slight turbulence wobbling my gut as it was, along with the kicking little madam behind me delivering some charming little jolts to my lower back; I was feeling rather queasy. The air-demon must have sensed this. Soon, after a loud, aggressive rustling, a thick and pungent stench wafted into my window seat cell. Aside the distinctively meaty roast beef crisps, there was definitely some other smell meandering up my nostrils and causing me to heave. I opened my eyes to find the source and there I found my answer; the air demon had removed his shoes.
He turned deviously to me again, fixating on my discomfort. A satanic relish flickered across his eyes. As I watched the corners of his mouth (smothered in a crispy saliva residue) curl cunningly and felt my cheeks throb hotly, the realisation hit me; I was sitting next to the devil incarnate.
Eventually, after more of his probing and rude demands for treats off the food cart -to which his submissive mother meekly obeyed-the flight of eternal damnation ended. Never have I got off a plane so rapidly. But as I stepped out into that heat, all my fluster and distress melted away. As the gentle sunlight settled on my skin, I peered around at the quiet sizzling scene and caught the eyes of my waiting friends. We’d made it and that’s all that mattered. And as for the air demon? Well, as they say ‘You’ve got to go through hell before you get to heaven’. And oh boy did we get to heaven.