Part One

A Lost Monument in the Sea

Dave was too anxious watching the flight attendant pushing the drink cart down the aisle toward him to notice the pilot’s mumbled announcement.  He was starting to feel his age creep up on him through little aches in his body, thoughts fleeting from his mind, and worst of all, frequent twinging urges in his bladder.  The kinds of twinging urges that could cause him to have to get up for the lavatory multiple times during a flight across the pacific if he were so bold as to provoke it.  Many years ago he would have been excited to hear the pilot point out the abandoned Pacific Space Elevator in the distance, but today he was just aching and anxious staring down the advancing drink cart.

 

“Anything to drink, sir?”

 

He wanted something, something hard, a drink, a drink, yes.  He’d already downed a coffee in the airport and he could feel dryness in his face from dehydration.  Maybe it wouldn’t drain right through him this time, he foolishly hoped.  Then what?  What will it be?  A mixed drink?  Beer?  Vodka?  He could feel that headache trying to work its way to the front of his head even before ordering.  Whiskey?  His stomach dropped and soured from just the thought.  She’s staring at me, he thought, pick something, pick something, she’s gotta get to everyone else behind you.  Just pick something.

 

“Um, Coke,” he nervously whispered. 

 

Realizing the hubris of this decision hit him in an instant.  Sitting in a window seat with three and a half more hours remaining in the flight meant he had sentenced himself to crawl over two strangers, at least two times, to go piss.  Oh god, he thought, at least two times.  He reflexively took a sip from the little plastic cup staring at him from the flipped down tray table.  He never liked the feeling of ice hitting his teeth while sipping from those tiny plastic cups but he had a sense of responsibility to finish something if it was complementary.  It wasn’t long for the last watery drops of coke to be gone and he was stuck with a flimsy little cup of melting ice.

 

Dave’s only memorable feature was his large nose.  His wife loved that large nose of his.  She didn’t, however, care for the way he picked his teeth after dinner.  ‘You get what pay for,’ he would say when she would complain about it.  He had only been away for a few weeks but Dave was starting to miss those complaints.  No one on the trip appreciated his tired quips.

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