Chapter 21 | Brando

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Oh, how quickly everything can fall apart.

      One moment, Daxten and I are happy. I feel cared for and loved and safe. Safe from judgment, safe from pain, safe from hate. Safe from the world. Daxten. Me. Dancing. But the world isn't ready for us. Even forty-thousand feet above it all, it finds me – judgment. Pain. Hate. I'm fighting so hard with myself already that I don't need a stranger to join the war.

      I understand if people don't agree with homosexuality, but I don't understand why someone wants to hurt me because of it.

      And Daxten. I'm devastated. He thought I was brave and I disappointed him. Maybe this is for the best. I usually disappoint people. My mom. My dad. Myself. At least if this is it, I'll not lead him on just to disappoint him in the future, when it's too late for him to escape. Yes, he needs to escape from me. That is what's best for him.

      I look behind my shoulder, expecting him to be following me. He isn't. That's good, I tell myself. I don't want him to follow me.

      Did I get too close? Should I have known better? He's a stranger I met in an airport. We were caught up on wine and the high altitude. Nothing more.

      Then why am I crying? If he's just a stranger, I shouldn't feel bothered by the fact we've had, what, a falling out, the end of our very fleeting romance? If he's just a stranger, I shouldn't feel the last remaining piece of my heart break.

      I wanted to give him my heart. Maybe I still do? But I don't have anything left to give.

      The few people in the first economy cabin don't look up at me as I pass them. A few of them are sleeping. Most of them have their headphones in their ears and are watching a movie.

      That's what I'll do when I arrive back at my seat. I'll watch a movie and get so lost in the plot and the characters that I'll forget about my pathetic little crush that was never going to go anywhere anyway. I need to get my head out of the clouds. I'll forget my stupidity for thinking that someone as, as... incredible, as wonderful as Daxten, would ever love someone like me.

      The plane shakes a little as the seatbelt sign turns on. I'm not in my cabin yet so I start to walk quicker. I pass two sleeping kids as their dad leans over to put their seatbelts on them both. I pass a young man and woman holding hands, sharing headphones as they watch a movie together. I pass a young girl speaking Spanish to the girl next to her.

      I see the red light above every seat. I walk faster. My legs shake. I look down to see that I'm still wearing Daxten's shoes. They feel too wonderful to take off. I'll need to give him them back once we land. I don't want to do that. I want to keep them on my feet forever.

      The galley greets me as I whizz through, reaching the final cabin. My cabin. The lighting has been dimmed for the passengers wanting to sleep, covering them in a blanket of shadow.

      The baby at the front sleeps silently in his mom's arms. I cross over to the other aisle, heading directly for my seat. I see the darkness outside of the windows and feel uneasy.

      I turn down the aisle and look towards the back. I see Rebecca sitting with her husband. She isn't looking up.

      I look to Nick, sitting in the seat in front of mine. His head is down at first, but as I approach, he looks up. He doesn't say a word. I'm grateful. I don't need his disapproval. I can't fight anymore. I just need everyone to leave me alone.

      I hear Leah on the other side. 'Sir, you need to put your seatbelt on.' I look over in her direction. I continue walking forward without looking where I'm going.

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