July 14, 2019
Originally written for A Perfect Day, a BananaFish Zine
Eji was sure that after spending three weeks in the hospital, Ash wouldn't have the energy to be a nuisance.
"Hey! What's the deal with this piece of junk? Are we taking off or what?"
Eji was wrong. He couldn't really blame Ash, when they first piled into the plane, it had quickly become clear that Ash was going to have to fold up like a pretzel if he had any hope of fitting his lanky frame into the seat. His head was just a few centimeters shy of the ceiling on his window seat - which Eji had insisted he sit in for his first flight.
But a few minutes at the gate had turned into nearly an hour.
Ash curled his hand into a fist and pounded it against the window.
"Ash!" Eji had to put his hand over his mouth to stifle his laughter. The plane was filled with businessmen and women, mostly busily trying to pretend that the brash blond wasn't starting to react to the plane like a caged animal.
An extremely harried flight attendant came hurrying down the aisle.
"Young man, you need to stop that-" Ash's fist hit the window and the entire side panel popped out of place. Eji felt a cool breeze brush against his face. The window panel landed in Ash's lap, he kept his fist suspended in the place where the window used to be. Eji saw the flight attendant's face turn paper white. At the same time outside, Eji heard a mechanic curse, then the engine on the wing began to belch black smoke.
"This is bullshit." Ash said, pushing his hands into his pockets as they shuffled off of the plane.
"I guess it's a good thing it didn't take off." Eji said, glancing over his shoulder back at the plane, where no fewer than a dozen mechanics had taken up beside the smoking engine.
The gate at the airport was a line of hard plastic seats with an ugly checkerboard pattern. Ash sprawled across two of them and waited for Eji to sit beside him, then he laid back, placing his head squarely in the other man's lap, his long legs dangling off the other side.
"Hopefully our bags weren't already on the plane." Eji added.
"Hopefully." Ash echoed, and reached for his pocket, pulling out a well worn red plastic lighter. "Shit. I left my smokes in the bag."
There was no sign of when they'd be able to get on another plane. Eji could see that the front desk by the gate was being mobbed, and didn't see much point in trying to fold himself into the group.
"We can go get some." Eji said helpfully. "I think there's a McDonalds, too."
"Thank fuck." Ash closed his eyes. "In a minute. My legs are killing me."
Eji hovered a hand over Ash's head, glanced around, then slowly and carefully threaded his fingers through his hair, smoothing down the pieces that had started to stick up from the static electricity on the ceiling of the plane.
"It's thirteen hours to Tokyo." He said, brushing his thumb over Ash's temple.
The crowd of people at the gate desk erupted into a chorus of disgruntled grumbling and Eji glanced over.
"I should probably go see what that's about."
Eji smiled as he gently untangled himself from Ash, and strode over to the desk.
He returned to Ash a few minutes later, carrying a white envelope. Ash was turned over on his stomach with one leg out to the side and the other bent awkwardly underneath him, using his folded arms for a pillow.
"Do you want the good news or the bad news first?"
Ash turned himself onto his back and squinted up at him, "Bad news."
"We're not flying to Tokyo tonight."
Ash scoffed. "Good news?"
"We're going to Honolulu."
Eji nodded. "There's a late flight tonight, then we're there for three days, and then we go to Tokyo."
"What are we going to do for three days? Sleep at the airport?"
"Well, my mom always said we had cousins in ‘Lahaina.’" Eji shrugged, "I can look them up when we get there."
Ash sat up. "I need a cheeseburger."
They had a dinner that was mostly french fries and salt, then piled into an enormous plane that was crammed with people - vacation goers who had originally been on the flight along with the very uncomfortable business-people who had been on the flight to Tokyo.
This time, thankfully, the windows didn’t break, and Eji spent most of the flight wedged between Ash and a businesswoman in a stiff grey suit.
He must have finally fallen asleep, because when the plane landed, he woke up with Ash’s palm resting gently on the back of his neck.
“Look.” He said, pointing past the stiff woman. Eji turned to look and saw swaying emerald green palm trees and behind those, a volcanic peak shrouded in pale blue mist.
The weary passengers shuffled off of the plane and it took an hour for the airline to inform them that their baggage had been sent on another plane.
Eji and Ash stepped out of the baggage claim area dressed in souvenir T-shirts and brightly colored swim trunks.
“Where’s Lahina?” Ash asked, putting a hand over his eyes, squinting against the sun to look at a map up on the wall of the big island.
“I’ll find it.” Eji said. He poured over the map, running his fingertips over the roadways that stretched across the island. Ash stood behind him with his arms crossed, discouraging any passers-by who might need access to the map.
After a few minutes, Eji reached out to the bottom of the map and unfolded a section showing the rest of the smaller islands.
“Um.” He said out loud, and Ash leaned in over his shoulder.
“What is it?”
“I think Lahina is on another island.”