Escape Velocity

In the no man’s land a mile above some unnamed piece of terrain, only God knew what time it was. The aircraft creaked and hummed in the gentle turbulence, the darkened cabin smelled of precooked meals and filtered air. That great metal bird, with slumbering strangers tucked neatly in its metal belly, carried me towards a dreaded stage of adulthood.

In the dimmed cabin, I lay back in my seat, nestled under my thin wool airplane blanket and let the music in my headphones pull me into that private space where sight and sound inexplicably become one. I couldn’t take my eyes off the crystal droplet of moon precariously hung in the indigo sky above an endless froth of charcoal clouds, beyond the frost-fringed oval window.

And I could not let go of the song. When it ended, I fumbled blindly for my player, and dialed it to repeat. It saturated my blood, forcing out all the other bonds that worried at the edges of my consciousness. I snuggled deeper into my seat, felt my nipples stir at the sensation of fabric against fabric, and the song looped again, forging emptiness inside me.

With my gaze still fixed on that pearlescent moon, I quested instinctively for comfort. My hand burrowed under my clothes, cupping the warm mound of my cunt. The moon, the music, the low hum of big engines: I didn’t notice I was wet until one fingertip slid effortlessly into my damp, fleshy slit. In that mechanical darkness, the dreaming minds around me were busy with their own interior landscapes. But still the song was there, immersing me in alien passions. I furtively played myself alive to its cadences.

When the need to fill myself became too great, I stood up on shaky legs and felt my way to the washroom, only to find it occupied. Waiting in the blackness, dimly aware of a few members of the cabin crew – going about whatever clandestine work they do while passengers sleep – my impatience grew.

After a few moments, one of the solicitous attendants approached me and whispered. I had to pull my headphones off to hear him.

“Have you been waiting long?”

“Not really,” I said, although it felt as if I’d been there an eternity.

“You can use the first class washroom if you want. They’re all asleep up there.”

I nodded and followed him through the forward cabin between the huge seats, and dark, huddled mounds of the travelling fortunates. If possible, this cabin was even darker, and I smiled inwardly as he showed me to the empty toilet. Here I wouldn’t need to worry about time or being disturbed. I entered the little cubicle and slid the bolt across the door just enough to lock it, but not enough to trigger the bright glare of the full lights.

Back against the wall, I refitted my headphones and caught sight of myself in the mirror, a monochromatic figure fumbling with the drawstring on a pair of linen trousers. I let them fall until they puddled around my ankles and pulled the crotch of my panties aside to sink my fingers back where they belonged, into the dark, wet throb between my legs.

Even as the song’s chorus swelled, I heard my breath grow harsh as I pinned the pad of my thumb to my clit and pushed two fingers up inside me. That is what I needed, and the song gave me permission. Not gentle or careful, not the softly erotic image of a woman pleasuring herself, I fucked myself with harsh purpose until everything else in the universe disappeared. Me, the song and the vast engulfing machine with its distant roaring engines. For what seemed like an eternity, that’s all there was. All three of us fighting through the darkness to reach some unstipulated altitude – escape velocity.

My hips canted forward, one hand over my mouth and one between my legs, I came like I’d been shot out into airless space. Gasping, keening into my own cupped palm, I felt my head tip back, felt my bones jolt against the thin wall. Trapped in that monstrous orgasm until tears began to roll down my cheeks.

No afterglow, no sweet wind-down, When the monumental weight of it lifted, I slid to the floor, stopped the music and wept in earnest. Reality broke over me like a thundercloud and I cowered beneath it, as if I had come down to earth hours before the flight was scheduled to land. The cold floor stung my bare thighs and I fought for breath in the harsh chemical stink of the blue toilet water that didn’t quite succeed in masking the scent of stale urine.

I don’t know how long I sat there. But when I finally put myself together, washed my face and made my way back to my seat, between the rows of oblivious sleepers, I was tired. The moon didn’t matter anymore and I couldn’t listen to that song again.

I closed my eyes and shivered under the thin blanket: six hours and several thousand miles closer to a funeral I dreaded attending.

 

  22 comments for “Escape Velocity

  1. December 31, 2013 at 3:00 pm

    I keep coming back to this story… it really resonates with me, and I haven’t (yet) sussed out the why.

    Part of it is recognizing that music often serves a similar function for me, as does masturbation — but that alone doesn’t really get all of it.

    This was one of your first stories I read, and I know one of the reasons I love your work is that I usually leave questioning — myself, my views, other people — and rarely do I feel as though I have all the answers!

    (Oh, and has my memory failed me, or is that a slight change to the final line?)

    • December 31, 2013 at 3:06 pm

      my memory fails me too, I don’t remember

      • January 1, 2014 at 4:50 am

        I would have sworn it used to say “six hours and several thousand miles closer to a dying parent.

        I’ve been wrong before, though. It’s an incredible story, regardless. And I love the way you write descriptions!

        I couldn’t take my eyes off the crystal droplet of moon precariously hung in the indigo sky above an endless froth of charcoal clouds, beyond the frost-fringed oval window.

        It just works wonderfully.

      • Stephen Fisher
        January 4, 2017 at 5:36 am

        Dear RG,

        I am new to this site. Just read Escape Velocity. Well done! I imagined transversing an inner landscape all the way. An out-of-being experience to say the least.

        Thank you.

  2. Six
    July 2, 2014 at 3:37 pm

    I found this very poignant. There’s something about long, solo flights that turns the mind inward. Alone with our thoughts, alone with our bodies, in an artificial environment that provides enough constant, low-level stimulation to make sleep nothing but a distant dream. Beautifully written, RG.

  3. Vlad
    July 5, 2014 at 11:35 pm

    AGH! The ending got me ;). It definately leaves you wanting more but ends the story at a decent place as well very clever ending if that was intentional.

  4. Vlad
    July 5, 2014 at 11:38 pm

    AGH! The ending got me ;). It definitely leaves you wanting more but ends the story at a decent place as well very clever ending if that was intentional.

  5. dj68
    July 7, 2014 at 9:54 pm

    Wish there was more to the story but I can see how I would do the same thing on a long flight.

  6. sunnysideup
    August 22, 2014 at 9:49 pm

    I love the combination of two powerful forces…a particular song and the moon.

  7. Sophia Loren
    November 16, 2014 at 12:37 am

    Sophia Loren…

  8. Sleepless Narco
    July 29, 2015 at 9:27 pm

    Fuck your writing is just… I am eternally frustrated by my inability to formulate what exactly it is about every one of your works that keeps me coming back. For the past few months I’ve usually been back every week to re-read your stories. Your writing draws me into an elegance that is swiftly shattered by moments of pure candor and THAT, THAT is what makes it all so delicious. Thank you so much for doing what you do. You are inspiring and your works are a gift to so many. X

    • July 31, 2015 at 11:31 pm

      You’re very kind. Thank you so much. I’m glad you enjoy them.

  9. Clover
    August 18, 2015 at 1:37 pm

    Beautiful, haunting, lonely. Just what I was in the mood for. Thanks, RG.

  10. invicta
    October 23, 2015 at 2:34 pm

    Another quiet beauty…having taken my fair share of trans-continental flights, this brings me right back to those long nights when everyone else can sleep but I can’t. And my mind wanders. Alas, all I had courage for were a few over-the-yoga-pants tickles…never the full monty. But I love how you’ve described everything…and yes, those forthy charcoal clouds! I re-read that sentence too. Excellent descriptions throughout, as always with your work. I feel blessed there’s still so many gems for me to discover here on your site. 🙂

    • October 23, 2015 at 9:19 pm

      What a lovely thing to say. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

  11. Laura
    January 11, 2016 at 8:34 am

    Beautiful, elegant, erotic and haunting, imagine being so alone, so isolated, and so charged up, miles above the earth. To be read again and again, thank you.

  12. Kama
    February 17, 2016 at 11:45 am

    whew, beautiful
    i fucking loved what the ending did to me
    the cry that emerged in us both
    the stark
    real
    end
    the cold
    the relief
    the self-kindness
    the break
    the tender

    appreciation sister

    • February 26, 2016 at 5:38 pm

      Thank you so much for your lovely comment, Kama. And the poetry in return.

  13. Jonathan
    March 29, 2016 at 8:07 pm

    Sex can be a powerful anecdote to death.

  14. Simon
    July 3, 2016 at 11:10 pm

    Oh my, what writing. Just found your site today, so I have a lot of catching up to do. Masturbation is such a wonderful, erotic, sensual, stimulating and relaxing activity and I know when I was younger I used to try to do it in “exciting” places. The ending brings it down to earth with a major bump. Thank you.

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