THE LAST PLANE TO CHINA
“Don’t forget to send me a postcard from Champs Les Sims,” Kate smiled at Elisabeth.
“I hope I will remember,” Elisabeth answered innocently. Kate had no idea that Elisabeth wasn’t going to France.
“I have never been there myself so in case you get the chance bring me a bottle or two. I heard their nectar is exquisite,” Kate whispered to her daughter while they hugged good bye. Elisabeth didn’t say anything to that.
“It’s better if we get going, we don’t want to miss the plane to France,” said David and winked at Elisabeth.
“Bon voyage darling. Enjoy yourself,” told her Kate.
“Thanks, Mom. I will, don’t worry,” said Elisabeth and followed her father outside.
“How am I supposed to find a postcard of the Eiffel tower in China?!” Elisabeth panicked. “Isn’t it better if we tell her?”
“No no. Don’t worry, I will take care of it.”
“And what about the nectar?”
“I’ll figure something out. You just don’t think about it, ok?”
“Come on, let’s go,” said David and put Elisabeth’s luggage in the trunk.
“I asked someone to come with me. I wanted you to know, but please, don’t tell Mom.”
“That’s great! I hoped you wouldn’t travel alone. That’s why I gave you two tickets,” told her David and felt relieved that his only daughter wasn’t traveling alone. “Come on, get in the car.”
“You don’t even ask who is this person?”
“Well, I know that you’re a smart girl, Elisabeth. It must be a friend or someone you know. It’s pretty clear to me that you wouldn’t travel so far with someone you don’t know.”
“Actually, I am. I met him two years ago and since then-”
“So it’s him!” David interrupted her. “I’m happy for you, Lizzie,” he said, kissed her in the hair like he used to when she was a little girl and sat in the car. Elisabeth thought it was better to let her father think that she was going to China with her boyfriend.
“Do you have everything?”
“I think I do.”
“I hope you have other shoes that those on your feet.”
“Of course I do, Dad,” laughed Elisabeth. “What kind of adventurer would I be?”
“It’s true that I haven’t seen many in skirts and heels,” smiled David. “But you could be the first one,” he added.
“I don’t think that’s a good idea. I don’t really see myself climbing up the hill in this outfit.”
“I’m just joking.”
The airport was located on the outskirts of Monte Vista, it took around three hours by car to get there.
“So, what will be the first thing you’re going to do in Shang Simla?”
“I need to talk to Sima Zhi.”
“Yes. I need some more information about the Dragon’s Maw.”
“Promise me, Elisabeth, that you’ll be very careful. Whatever you do, wherever you go, always keep your eyes open.”
“Don’t worry, Dad. I have everything under control.”
“Good, good. I’m happy to hear that.”
Elisabeth looked out of the window and thought about the first time she visited Shang Simla with her father. She remembered about the yellow beam of light that came out of the sarcophagus. Sima Zhi warned her, but Elisabeth didn’t listen. She needed to know what has really happened.
“We’re almost there,” said David when the airport appeared on the horizon.
“What time is it?”
“Almost 9 PM. We’re on time,” he smiled at her.
“So, this is it. Have a safe trip, Lizzie.”
“Thank you, Dad. Don’t worry about me, I’ll be all right.”
“Of course you will,” he said and hugged her. “Call me when you get there.”
“I hope you’ll find whatever you’re searching for.”
“Yeah… me too.”
“Are you sure you don’t want me to stay and wait with you?”
“No, Dad. It’s fine.”
“Very well then. Say hello to your boyfriend.”
“He’s not-”, Elisabeth almost revealed that she was probably going alone. “I mean, he’s coming any minute now. I will say hello for you. Bye, Dad. Thank you.”
“Bye-bye. Have fun!”
Elisabeth walked inside the airport hall and headed straight for the bathroom. She needed to change her clothes.
If Benjamin saw her going on an adventure in heels, he’d probably laugh. Or maybe he wouldn’t, because she looked really great in this dress. But it didn’t matter anyway, he wasn’t coming.
Or at least, that’s what she thought. Elisabeth had no idea that while she was changing into her adventurer outfit, Benjamin was only a hundred meters away.
When he saw the airport from the taxi, he looked at his watch. It was 9.10 PM.
“Excuse me, do you know what is the departure time of the plane to China?” Benjamin asked the taxi driver.
“I’m not sure, but it used to be 10 PM,” said the driver. Benjamin’s eyes lit up. He could still make it. The next minute the taxi stopped in front of the airport.
“Keep the change!” said Benjamin as he got out of the car.
“Thanks, man! Have a good trip!” called the taxi driver at him.
This is much better, Elisabeth thought to herself. A pair of pants, a cotton tank-top and a linen shirt felt much more suitable for this kind of trip.
Meanwhile, Benjamin arrived at the airport. He walked in hoping to find Elisabeth.
However, as he looked around he didn’t see her anywhere.
There was the homeless guy.
There was the adventurer.
But there was no Elisabeth. Benjamin decided to call her.
Elisabeth was washing her hands when her cellphone rang.
“Benjamin! Where are you?”
“Hey! I’m at the airport in Monte Vista!”
“Yeah! Where are you?”
“I’m at the airport as well!”
“Where? I don’t see you.”
“In the bathroom, I’m getting ready for the flight.”
“Ah, okay. I’ll meet you there!”
I’m lucky there’s only one airport in Monte Vista, Benjamin thought to himself on the way to the bathroom.
He sat on the couch and waited for Elisabeth to come out.
“Elisabeth?” he called at the girl who exited the ladies. The moment Elisabeth heard Benjamin’s voice her heart almost stopped. He was really there.
She slowly turned around. When Benjamin saw her face, he realized she was even more beautiful than he remembered.
He stood up, put on his backpack and walked towards Elisabeth.
“Lovely outfit,” said Benjamin. It was not exactly what he wanted to say, but at least he didn’t stare at her in silence.
“Thanks,” said Elisabeth and blushed.
“So, are you ready?”
“Ready for what?”
“For the flight! Didn’t you say you were getting ready for the flight?”
“Oh, sure! Yes, yes. I am,” said Elisabeth and looked to the side. Talking to Benjamin face to face was harder than she thought.
“The plane leaves soon. Let’s go?”
“Let’s go,” Elisabeth repeated his last words and they both headed towards the gate. After a long moment of silence it was Benjamin who started talking.
“Thank you for taking me with you,” he said and looked at Elisabeth. “It is really nice of you,” Benjamin continued. Elisabeth looked at him with the intention to say something, but when their eyes met she couldn’t bring herself to words.
“Is everything ok?”
“If you have changed your mind and want to go alone, I’ll stay.”
“No, no. Please…,” said Elisabeth, looked at Benjamin and touched his hand. Benjamin looked down at his hand holding Elisabeth’s and then he looked in her eyes. The moment their eyes met again, Elisabeth suddenly let go of his hand.
“Have you been to China before?” asked her Benjamin.
“Yes, last summer.”
“With my Dad.”
“Why didn’t he come this time?”
“He couldn’t. I mean, not that he wouldn’t want…”
“I see, it’s complicated.”
“Exactly,” Elisabeth appreciated with a smile the end of the interrogation.
They reached the gate and found themselves at the end of the line.
“I have never traveled by plane before.”
“There is first time for everything, right?” Elisabeth smiled at him. Now, it was Benjamin who didn’t say a word. Elisabeth could almost see his cheeks turn red. Slightly. The sweet moment was interrupted by a hassle between a man and the stewardess.
“Sir, you are not allowed on board without a valid ticket. Please, move aside.”
“But I have a ticket, here, give a look.”
“Sir, please, this is not a valid ticket. Move aside.”
“Sir, please, move aside!”
“Excuse me, haven’t you heard the lady?” the guy in the hat told to the man without a valid ticket.
“Mind your own business, Indiana!” protested the ticket-less man.
“You said it yourself,” said the guy in the hat, took the man by the arm and dragged him aside.
“Thank you, sir,” said the stewardess. “Next please!”
“Good evening, gorgeous,” the adventurer jumped in front of the stewardess. “My name is Trent Ferrel.”
“Good evening, Mr. Ferell,” said the stewardess and checked his ticket. “Have a pleasant flight,” she smiled at him.
“I’m sorry you had to face that impolite gentleman.”
“Thank you, Mr. Ferell,” said the stewardess.
“Would you like me to stand by your side in case he comes back?”
“Mr. Ferell, I believe that’s not necessary.”
“Are you sure?”
Elisabeth and Benjamin silently observed the situation.
“One word and I’ll stay.”
“Mr. Ferell, you’re too kind.”
“One word, Jane. May I call you Jane?”
“My name is Harmony,” she blushed.
“Oh, what a lovely name.”
Elisabeth heard the old woman standing in front of them complain about the situation. “She’s armed,” Elisabeth whispered to Benjamin when she noticed her cane. “She could be dangerous.”
“Yeah, what if she’s a Sim Fu champion of the last century.”
“This is outrageous!” screamed the old woman and raised the cane.
“See, what did I say,” laughed Elisabeth.
“Seems like they don’t really care,” told her Benjamin.
“Give her some time. Old people are persistent. She’ll eventually start poking.”
“Yeah, with her weapon,” giggled Elisabeth.
“Move aside, sonny!” said the old woman and started harassing him with her cane.
“I’ll see you on board, gorgeous,” said the guy in the hat, winked at the stewardess and went through the door.
“What a disgrace! You should be ashamed!” screamed the old woman. The stewardess let the woman in without even checking her ticket. “What a disgrace!”
“It was pretty funny, actually,” said Elisabeth and looked at Benjamin.
“Your tickets, please,” asked the stewardess. Elisabeth showed her the tickets. “There is no name on the second one,” told her the stewardess.
“Oh, excuse me. I forgot to fill his name in.”
“Benjamin Thomas,” said Benjamin.
“May I see your ID?”
“Sure,” Benjamin took out his wallet from the backpack and showed his ID to the stewardess.
“Thank you,” she said and wrote his name on the ticket. “Have a pleasant flight.”
“You too,” teased her Benjamin as he passed along her.
“How long did she say it’ll take us to get to Shang Simla?” Benjamin asked Elisabeth.
“Around 11 hours.”
“Eleven hours?” said Benjamin and looked at his watch. “Well, I guess we’ve got plenty of time to get to know each other,” he smiled at Elisabeth and she smiled back.