Nina Fosati: You Got to Throw the Little Ones Back (flash fiction)

Southern Legitimacy Statement
We’ve got Texas relatives who, for years, have told us we have to move to the land of living large. I witnessed the following exchange at the Houston airport.

You Got to Throw the Little Ones Back

It was the little things.

Courtney hadn’t been looking for someone like him, exactly, but when he walked into the gala for the Houston Grand Opera dressed in a Gucci tux; a switch flipped. When she discovered he was a commodity trader for the Macquarie Group, it glowed neon.

They’d been dating for about a month and, so far, things had gone smoothly enough. Once she agreed to go to Palm Beach with him, he had arranged everything. The flight, the hotel, the rental car were all paid for. They’d arrived at the departure gate on time and were waiting to board. Courtney watched him swipe through his phone messages and pondered why his choices seemed off. On the way to the gate, she had yawned and asked him to buy her a latte. Instead, he had pulled a bottle of water out of a side pocket of his backpack. Handing it to her, he said, “Here. You know airport food is massively overpriced, right?”

When boarding began, he pulled his ticket out of his sport coat pocket and gave it to the attendant. Without waiting, he lumbered down the slope ahead of her. Courtney would have preferred he wait. She disliked boarding planes. She found the impatience, which radiated off people like an infection, unsettling.

After the flight attendant’s greeting, she made her halting way down the aisle behind him. He surprised her by stopping at row three and stuffing his carry-on into the upper storage. Then he maneuvered his tall frame into the window seat. Puzzled, Courtney looked around at the first class seats, searching for an open chair.

“You’re sitting up here?” she asked.

“Yeah, you have to keep going. Your seat is 28A,” he replied. Then with a wave of encouragement, “See ya, Babe.”

Astonished, she opened her mouth to object but stopped. Apparently, he did not intend to give her the more desirable seat. Perhaps it hadn’t even occurred to him to offer.

Courtney glanced down at a woman sitting in the aisle seat behind him. Their eyes met. The woman pursed her lips and raised a quizzical eyebrow.

Well, okay then. Squaring her shoulders, Courtney hefted her bag off the floor and proceeded down the narrow passage to her seat.