The sky slowly darkens as the sun dips behind the clouds, the windows slide from light to grey. Whisps of air stream past, chasing droplets across the glass, helter skelter as the plane starts to descend.
Inside the cabin the light changes, melting from the dazzling brilliance of moments ago to the dull artificial glow that washes over the life within; an irregular motion bumps and buffets the plane, pockets of turbulent air enjoy their brief moments of power.
The rows of seats are almost full, the gentle chatter of a hundred strangers fight the mechanical hum, a war of attrition that neither will win. A sudden burst of laughter breaks through but is soon lost, impaled on the battlements of the background drone.
Near the front of the plane sits a young woman. She is quiet through all of this, contemplative and resolute. She sits upright, deaden to movement, seemingly calm and controlled. She is Joan of Arc, no martyr but divine in her moments. She is powerful yet still, assured and confident, the low tone of her voice resonants authority when she chooses to use it. She knows this full well, she knows the power she holds and she chooses her moments to wield it based on nothing but pure whimsy and focussed vigour.
She closes her eyes and thinks ahead to the man that will be waiting for her. The moment their eyes will meet, the last few steps they will take towards each other, the touch, the kiss, the embrace. A gentle smile creases her lips as her mind slips away into a daydream of what is to come.
At the back of the plane a group of men can be heard, their back and forth exchanges echo down the cabin. They conform as you would expect, leery with the flight attendants and, with no sense of self, annoying and apologetic to those around them, They are an endless series of in-jokes and nicknames, inane chatter and sudden outbursts. The quiet bully and vicious mockery they spout is learned but not fully understood. Around them, silent glares and simmering rage.
A few rows forward, oblivious to the noise, an elderly couple are crouched in their seats, anxiously peering out at the wall of cloud beyond. They hold hands in comfortable silence, aware of each emotion passing between them with no need for words. They force their minds back to their holiday, the strolls along the promenade, the exotic drinks and spice laden food, the sun and the dashing youngsters, bronzing on the beach. Anything to take them away from their current reality, the terror of falling.
They are still enveloped in cloud. The windows of the plane mirroring the transparent opaqueness of the air outside. The light in the cabin seems to disperse and everything inside takes on the soft hues of a dream. Loud voices start to dull, quiet voices cease altogether and, slowly, silence ripples through the cabin.
Heads start to swivel, eyes straining as the passengers unite and turn to query the windows, peering through the grey white world outside. They are desperate for a view, any view, of something else, something real. Instead all they see are their reflections staring back at them and none of them like what they see.
Realisation creeps through the cabin like a sharp breeze, cutting through everything else, and all thoughts are tuned to the same idea.
The view isn’t changing.
The cloud isn’t ending.