Coffee and Cockpits - By Jade Hart


Without you, I would never have written a word. Therefore, I owe you all of them.


I earned my wings.

This was it. I was qualified.

Stepping on-board the plane, fizzles of joy frothed in my stomach. I’d done it; one step closer to my dream and free to fly the skies. I was no longer a ground-dweller stifled in an office. My work day included prancing around fluffy clouds. It didn’t matter I wasn’t graced with a halo. For all intents, I was an angel of the horizon. Who needed stupid wings when gravity relinquished its hold in the form of a giant metal bird? Jet-fuel and combustion were my wings and were a lot faster than flimsy, fluttering things.

Acute, sharp happiness buoyed me and I swear I floated by sheer emotion.

A good day at work meant soaring above the globe. A bad day at work meant turbulence and…a horrific crash, flames, mutilation, and/or death. Um, I didn’t think this through, did I?

My heart stuttered at the thought of my body, crisp in its immaculate uniform, mangled and whooshing with fire. Great, I signed up for death by—

“Nina Poppins?”

“Here!” I shouted, running daintily down the aisle in a pair of brand new heels that were evil incarnate. I no longer just had ankles—I had blisters the size of golf balls on my ankles. The price of beauty, and in this case, my job.

“You’re late, young lady,” the airline examiner snipped. Her blonde hair was in a bun, sprayed to plastic hardness, and her perfect red-orange lipstick was primed to perfection. Not a face-fuzz or nail chip in sight.

I shrivelled inside. I spent much longer than usual dressing this morning, and yet I didn’t spruce up as nice as Ms. Klein.

She gave me a hoity-toity look down her nose.

“Sorry, Ms. Klein.” Swallowing, I slung my satchel over my shoulder and smoothed down my air hostess uniform, searching for the creases I knew had to be there. I wasn’t like the creature in front of me. She was a sharp-tongued-take-no-crap Barbie doll.

I presented well, but I could never compete with that edgy chic. I was more suited to vibrancy and music. A whimsical dancer’s soul lived within me, no matter how aloft and professionally aspiring my dreams were. I didn’t like the severe uniform; I liked freedom and colour. I didn’t want to work the back of the plane; I wanted the front seat. Spectator to storms and crystal blue horizon; in control of rudders, ailerons, and wings.

A small smile played on my lips. At least I wore something fun and flirty beneath my clothes. I had a serious obsession with lingerie: corsets, garter belts, lace, and organza. Didn’t know why I bothered, though, no men saw me, and I was too focused on my career to chase love and attention. Having a career equalled money. And money equalled freedom from my poverty past. Probably why I was drunk on buying finery… I’d never had the bank balance to do it.

Dodging past Ms. Klein’s piercing glare, I dashed down the aisle of the 737-300 Boeing. Checking, as I hustled, that all the seatbelts were neatly crossed on the seats and the magazines placed just so in the seat pockets.

“Hey, Nina,” Joslyn said as I arrived in the back galley. Her heart-shaped face was warm, green eyes deep as jade. If it hadn’t been for Joslyn, I would’ve died of tedium in the flight attendant course. She was as unpredictable as a pinwheel firework, and although some of what she said made me cringe, I enjoyed her company. She was the exact opposite of my doom and gloom family, and reminded me my life had just begun.

I shot her a smile, pretending to wrap a noose around my throat. “Do you think they’ll fire me on my first day?”

“What, and waste eight weeks of training they invested in you?” She punched me gently. “No chance.”

I bit my lip. “I hope so. I’d hate to go down in history for the shortest air hostess employment record ever.” Not to mention have my father rub my face in it. He disowned me when I got the job. His quote: ‘No daughter of his would be a slut in the sky.’ My stomach rolled, but I focused on other things. Important things like I hadn’t put lippy on this morning.

Fumbling in my bag for the Coral Crush lipstick, I found it and looked at Joslyn. My eyes zeroed in on her neck, covered demurely by a teal scarf. I