Author : Claire Webber

“Excuse me, miss?” he said, raising a finger to get the stewardess’ attention.

“Yes, how can I help you?” she said with a smile. Her accent was faint, and a single curl poked out of her modest hijab printed with the airline’s logo.

“I’d like a copy of the New York Press.”

“$2.50, please.”

He reached under his seat to get his briefcase. Good lord, they just remolded these 787’s and there still wasn’t any leg room, he thought to himself.

Rifling through his wallet, he smiled apologetically. His TransAmerican Airlines credit card was hidden in there, somewhere.

The stewardess held out the swipe machine, polite smile still plastered on her face.

He found the red and blue plastic card and ran it through the slot. The machine printed a receipt. She handed it and a folded copy of the newspaper to him.

“Enjoy your flight,” she pleasantly said before continuing to push her cart down the cramped aisle.

“Yeah, if it ever takes off,” he muttered under his breath. The people sharing his row had opted out of coffee and were dozing already.

He skimmed over the front page. It was filled with the usual troubles in the Middle East, the latest factory worker strike, another drug cartel kidnapping the latest mayor of Phoenix, Arizona.

When he opened the paper to the second page, though, his face fell.

The picture may have been in black and white, but he could picture the bright green of the grass, the red of the provincial roofs, and the crisp blue of the Tuscan sky. There was too much sky.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa had finally collapsed.

He wasn’t surprised. The unstable subsoil, the earthquakes in the past few years, but still…

His mind drifted back to college, planning to backpack through Italy and France. He had postcards taped all around his dorm of all the monuments he wanted to see. The cathedral at Chartes, Montmarte, the Sistine Chapel, little snap shots of history etched into his naïve collegiate mind. But the postcard hanging above his bed was the Leaning Tower. He didn’t know why, never knew why, but that was where he always pictured himself when he daydreamed.

Internships, business school, marriage- there just was never enough time. He was always too busy.

A crackle on the intercom snapped him out of his reverie.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, we apologize for your inconvenience. Free moving particles in the thermosphere are preventing our departure from Los Angeles. Please expect arrival time in New York to be pushed back to 9:20.”

He looked down at his watch.

8:15, it flashed on and off at him.

He was going to be late to work. This commute was killing him.

There just was never enough time.


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