I was flying over the swath of orange lights that, unlike sunlight, define where people aren’t and are. I looked at the scope of humanity stretched out underneath my plane’s wing. Parking Lot, I thought. Mall. Water. Not water. Road. Cars. Bridge. The sky we were cutting through on our way to LaGuardia was smokey in the orange glow of the city. The city was exhaling.

I thought about all of the people down there breathing out. Then I exhaled. There are SO MANY people exhaling! They’re all just… expelling CO2 and not even thinking about it. I’m thinking about it. All those tonnes of gas coming out of all those millions of lungs. Each breath another reminder of how alive and how unaware of how alive each person is as they do something, whatever that is, down there on earth. I was the CO2 fairy coming in for a landing.

The woman sharing my seat row huffed and shuffled her papers around when the overhead told us all that the electronics and tray tables need to be stowed and put away. I pulled myself away from my window and looked at her for a minute. She was so busy. So busy with her stuff. She probably didn’t even have time to realize she was breathing. Like I was. I was breathing. I held my breath. Now I’m not. 

I looked back at the lights below, twinkling in their false sunlight, each orb a reminder that the darkness is vanquishable. I saw cars streaming like fish in a tunnel as they rode, carrying their breathing adults and children to wherever they need to go at 11:30pm. Did anyone down there look up to see my red blinking lights and loud jets passing 7 thousand feet over their heads? Maybe.

I thought about the research I had done today while sitting at Chicago’s Midway Airport, killing time for my connecting flight. Eczema has no cure. How strange and unnerving. No one really knows what causes it. Do waiters on Cruise ships have a fun time? Is 6 months at sea worth the 60 hours a week of work? All signs are pointing to yes. What the hell does the word “Za” mean? I even mourned the death of my book series I just finished. Where can I find the next Graphic Novel to read?

I picked at my cuticles, thinking about the blonde who had sat next to me when I flew from Columbus, OH to Chicago earlier today. Her left thumb was red, picked apart by her teeth. I looked my my own fingers critically and wondered if anyone who knew me would think I was picking at my cuticles any more or less than before.

I stretched in my airline seat, feeling really tired. My grandparents drove me the 4 and a half hours from Bloomington, Indiana to Columbus, OH today. My tail bone felt sore. Almost home. I breathed out, the chemical consisting of 2 small atoms of Oxygen bonded to a Carbon atom expelled from my lungs, fogging the window pane, hitting the atmosphere, and adding to the vast amount of exhaled days and dreams and moments in the lives of all the millions of people doing the same and forgetting that I was even doing it along with all of them as I concentrated on the plane landing.

May 10, 2013 at 4:55 am by Natalie Allen