“Rough air,” the captain warned. Oh, again, thought Ella. She just wanted to sleep.
She opened her eyes and inches from her face there was a stewardess with long black hair. “I know you,” she said. “From online. You’re Ella.”
“Oh,” said Ella. “No, I don’t think so.”
“You’re Ella!” said the stewardess. “You know, I started a dream journal because of you.
I had the craziest dream last night. There were these mountains, and this stream, but the stream was something else, not water, and—” There was another warning beep, and everyone was silent, but there was no message from the captain, only the sound of breathing, then the off-beep. It must have been a mistake.
“Anyway,” said the stewardess. “Such a fan.”
Ella closed her eyes again. She’d have to do better. One of these days someone would post a video about how they’d met her and she wasn’t nice and then she’d have to deal with that, apologize or not apologize. She loved having fans but she hated meeting fans. She didn’t know what to say to them. They were always telling her their dreams, and Ella was always having to say “huh, nice one,” as if their dreams were somehow preferable to others. No one was ever any good at narrating their dreams. Ella had theories about this. The trick, she thought, was all about acceptance. Dreams arrived in squiggles, never lines.
For instance, once Ella had dreamed about a zoo where animals weren’t kept in cages–a lion, a bear, and zero cages–then a nail salon with rows and rows of nail polish bottles lined up on the walls. Ella had to choose a shade. She had to choose it from the walls. It wasn’t that the zoo became the salon, and it wasn’t that the dreams were different dreams. It was just the way dreams were. The zoo-to-salon dream had been a hit on Ella’s channel. Soon, so very soon, it would reach a million views.
The plane swerved again and the man next to her let out a surprised cough. Rough air, rough air. The sound in her ears was very loud. Why, thought Ella, half-asleep, does no one ever talk about how loud it is on planes. Everyone keeps shouting, blithely shouting, like it’s normal. But for sleeping it was almost nice, white noise, the sound of machinery. The plane tilted right. Ella began to have that dream where she was falling, falling from a building, or her heart was falling out of her chest all the way to the floor, or her head was falling off, something like that, something falling.
She was falling, and the plane was falling, and the captain said “Nearly through it, folks.” He’d ruined it; the dream was gone. She opened her eyes. The man next to her had turned his movie off. His face was white and he was gripping the top of the seat in front of him. The plane tipped forward. The plane tipped a little to the left.
Mathilda Blevins (she/her) is a junior at Bennington College from Greensburg, PA. She is currently on a leave of absence, but when she returns, she will continue studying literature and fiction writing. After Bennington, Blevins plans to teach these disciplines while writing novels and short stories. She finds inspiration for her prose largely from music and film, drawing influence from artists like Brian Eno, Andrei Tarkovsky, and David Lynch.