I noticed her a few aisles in front of me on the other side of the plane. I had been wanting to look in her direction since I sat down but didn’t know why. As we took off I noticed with forceful familiarity her hair, which had not changed. I stared at the back of her head until the fasten seatbelt light was extinguished and then I walked up to her row. I stopped behind the row and stared at her some more. She noticed me. On the otherwise packed flight she had an aisle to herself. She sat at the window. I took the aisle, leaving an empty seat between us.
It was a night flight and the lights were off. I wondered whether it was not Megan. I thought it might have instead been someone who looked very much like her. Her eyes and smile glittered in the dim cabin and I knew that it was her. “You remember me,” I said with earnest, contriving a playful smile. Megan feigned offense and reached over the empty seat and hugged me. I hugged her tight.
Megan asked me how I’d been doing and what I’d been up to. I told her. I avoided asking her those questions, but we talked freely about our shared memories and the things we did when we were younger. She was very charming. I’d forgotten about her charm. Megan put me at ease and her and I were laughing and talking wildly. I never asked about the prior five years. I didn’t decide to avoid that topic; it was instinctive.
Megan cared very much about how things were going for me. She smiled with genuine interest at the things that I told her. She laughed when I talked about my kids and she nearly cried when I described my wedding. Her interest in me was almost unnaturally strong, but aside from that she was the same girl that I remembered. Her face and hair, her laugh and her personality, they were all the same as before.
The plane neared our destination and I said goodbye to Megan. I couldn’t ask for her phone number and she didn’t ask for mine. I went to my seat feeling, as I’d felt five years before, that I’d left an important part of myself with her. When we landed Megan got up from her seat and left without taking any luggage from the bin. The back of her head disappeared in the crowd of exiting passengers and I didn’t see her in the airport, though I didn’t look hard. Megan was gone again and I knew that I would never find her. Sweet gentle Megan, who I’d watched die five years prior.