I hear the final boarding call as I approach my gate.
“Just in time,” the doe-eyed brunette says with a touch of annoyance in her voice. Her fake smile doesn’t touch her big brown eyes. I slide the screen of my phone under her scanner, and it beeps its familiar confirmation as I walk on without a word or a smile. Like she has anywhere else to be. I’m not usually this person, but today it’s okay to let out the darkness inside me.
I don’t know what it is about the long walk down the jetway that I love so much, but I’m practically giddy seeing the last person disappear into the plane ahead of me. I typically want to be the last person to board. I hate the lines, the waiting on people to put their bags in the overhead bins, the impatient shuffling around. I don’t like to be touched unless it’s on my terms, and tight quarters always make an excellent excuse for people to get handsy and a little too close.
It’s the precise reason I always opt for business class. I’m not going to be rubbing elbows with some oversized creep stuffed into the seat next to me for an hour. Or God forbid I have to go to the bathroom and must choose whether to put my tush or my bush in his face. First or business class tickets are a frivolous expense, but sacrifices must be made.
Sometimes I wish I’d win the lottery so I could buy my own plane. Then I remind myself that you have to play the lottery to win, and the odds of winning the jackpot are somewhere near 1 in 300 million. At 1 in 11 million, my odds of this plane going down tonight with me on it are better. I know this logic doesn’t hold water, but buying a lottery ticket is like dooming the next 28 planes I’m on. The thought of it running out of fuel or the engines failing crosses my mind as I step over the threshold and into the cabin.
The male flight attendant takes my black leather duffle and stows it away for me, and I wonder if I would be screaming, terrified with the rest of the passengers as we plummet to our deaths, or if I’d pull out the calendar app on my phone and calmly type Die in a plane crash under today’s date. Surely it would take people a few days to realize I put the entry in as we were going down, and I laugh a little as I imagine the media coverage of the psycho who downed the plane. There would undoubtedly be countless psychologists and psychiatrists analyzing the situation after it was discovered, and I make a mental note to choose that path, should I ever know my plane is crashing.
These are the types of thoughts that would get me committed if other people knew I had them. I like to believe they are the kinds of thoughts everyone has, but no one can say aloud. Every once in a while, though, I’ll share them with a stranger to test the waters, and they’re never on board. Or won’t admit to it at least. I’m always left wondering if that makes me crazy or if everyone else is hopelessly repressed.
I can’t help thinking my Id, Ego, and Superego have failed me miserably. Perhaps I’m aware of my Id when I shouldn’t be? Maybe it is closer to the surface in me than in other people, or than other people are willing to admit? Perhaps other people only indulge in the sexual aspect and ignore death and aggression. Well, people other than rapists and murderers. I am a complete psychopath?
“Excuse me, Ma’am,” the flight attendant says again, “You’re here, in 2B.”
I’m happy to see the gentleman in 2A is on his laptop and paying no attention when I sit down. Fortunately, I was able to secure my preferred aisle seat, so I won’t have to step past him to get settled in. With any luck, he’ll remain oblivious to my presence for the duration of the flight.
The flight attendant, I see now his name is Sam, asks if he can get me anything for the flight, and I smile through my reply. “No, thank you, Sam.” People love to hear their name, and I may be the only person who calls him by it today.
I silently kick myself for forgetting my mask as the sound of my voice, which I know is girlishly sweet, causes 2A to look over at me. His eyes go wide, and his mouth sags open in shock before he snaps his head back to his laptop without so much as a hello.
I can feel the self-satisfying, Joker-like smile spread across my lips.
I’m so glad I decided to wear my Veronica mask today. My long blond hair is a wild mane down my back, there is a hoop in my nose and studs in my cheeks mark the dimples I wish I had. My lips are painted with Deep Void, and my black eye makeup is so heavy I’ll need to use half a bottle of micellar water to get it off. I love Veronica; she is the person I am when I don’t want to deal with humanity. She is a woman with whom this man wouldn’t dream of conversing. She’s wearing the black lace-up combat boots that identify her—all my masks are defined by their unique choice of footwear—a pair of destroyed black cut-off jean shorts with fishnet tights under them, and a charcoal V-neck T-shirt tucked loosely into them at the belt buckle only. I even swapped my nail polish to Lincoln Park After Dark, a color I love but cannot wear with many of my masks. I am nothing if not committed to my role.
When I fly alone, which is often, Veronica is the mask I choose. She is the reason I can take out my new copy of The Smartest Guys in the Room and read through this entire flight, which means we are landing before I know it. I. Love. Veronica.