She had known her flight had been delayed since just after she had woken up in her hotel room at 5:00am but had gone to the airport as planned anyway, arriving hours before her flight. She would not get back to sleep if she tried, and anyway the room had stopped making her happy. It had on the first night, with its luxurious sheets and hospital corners and faintly exotic view of the esplanade. But he had not showed up, and he had not answered her calls. The room, once full of promise, seemed to have grown cold in the increasing sureness that he was not coming, that, perhaps, he had been lying to her since the beginning. In the circumstances, she did not mind Ubering out into the cool 6:00am world, the hotel room – a coffin of silenced possibilities – receding into the bluish, pre-dawn distance behind her.
She had kept checking her phone in the Uber, nervous, panicky. What if something had happened to him? What if he had tried to get in touch but her phone was not working properly? Her phone was fine. Theon had texted. Morning baby! Can’t wait to see you. Safe travels! Xxx. They had had a conversation about air safety before she had left for the conference she had told him she was going to, one of those hypnogogic late-night dialogues between couples that ebb and flow like a dream. ‘The brace position kills more people than it saves,’ he had ended up saying as she drifted near the brink of sleep. ‘Breaks the neck.’ She thought this was bullshit, and told him so, only her language had been softer, more open. She had recalled hearing about a plane crash in which the only survivor had been the sole passenger to correctly assume the position. And hadn’t there been a Mythbusters about it? But she could not remember if the myth was that people who braced in air crashes died or did not die, and she could not remember what conclusion the hosts had reached. He had held her that night as he always held her – not spooning, but lying on his back with one arm outstretched, his palm resting on her hip or buttocks.