He was on a plane, in the sky, above the clouds. A girl was next to him, someone he barely knew, who had only ever been on the very edges of his vision. A closer friend was sat behind him. The interior of the plane was cool and quiet, docile, as if its temporary inhabitants were being kept in stasis for the duration of the journey. It was a return flight, and it showed itself in the exhaustion of the passengers.
His seat was a window seat and he found himself drawn to the faintly glowing clouds that floated around the plane. It was late in the afternoon and the sky was the colour of dying embers. Beneath the enormous white clouds was a thinner layer spread wide and, appearing in cracks between this foamy sheet, was the endless blue below.
It was odd – the more he looked, the more he could be in a ship, sailing on the ocean. The distant clouds were like monstrous icebergs, glacial, ruling the sky. The blue haze of the earth below the thin, wispy clouds was the watery depths of the sea. All he had to do was focus on the horizon and his perception was altered, if only for a moment.
It seemed to him as if there was no one else but him in this plane cabin. It was so still, so sterile and lifeless.He could not help but think, if he fell out of the plane now, would he plummet towards the hard ground, or would he sink into the waves? If he were ejected in a freak accident, would he feel the clean air or the salty water? Would he gasp for air or would he drown?
He was standing outside the plane now, looking at himself, peering in like a spirit. He stared through the window and his own reflection stared back. He was stood on the iceberg itself! It was true, it was always true, everything he had ever imagined. He felt the solid, freezing ice beneath his feet, heard the roaring of the wide ocean. He stood with his arms wide, inhaling the cool air.
But when he looked down, the deep water parted. He slipped, and felt this reality slip out of his grasp, through his fingers like grains of sand or candle-smoke. The ice dissipated, becoming the clouds once more, and as he fell through the vast emptiness of the atmosphere he realised he was wrong. He was a fool to think his imagination had become real. He raised his hands protectively to his face before he hit the dead ground as it rushed up to him.
All was darkness and he was aware only of a high-pitched hum. His head felt heavy and it began to lurch forwards. As his chin hit his chest, he woke with a jolt. The girl next to him had spoken, pointed out the snoring woman across the aisle, and he snapped out of his reverie. Everything was as it had been.