Flash by Pat Foran
Modern Love (I'm Sorry)
Welcome aboard, the Forward Flight Attendant said.
She paused, then asked: Are you okay?
I'm sorry, I said. I say it a lot. It's a habit, I guess. A reflex.
Are you okay? the Forward Flight Attendant asked again.
I must have looked surprised or looked hurt or looked something.
I'm sorry, you look so sad, is all, she said.
I'm sorry, I said. I'll try to do better, I'll do better next time, I will, I say, I'll do better next time, you know what I say, I'll try to do better, I say.
Ha, she said. You sang that in rhythm like you're singing a song like you're singing to me were you singing a song were you singing to me what song did you sing?
"Modern Love" by David Bowie?
Ha, she laughed, then paused, then said, Hey Rear Flight Attendant take care of my friend my sad sad friend my Modern Love friend. He's trying to do better, can you show him the way?
The Rear Flight Attendant waved and I walked down the aisle, past the Exit Row, past headphoned passengers with songs leaking from their ears. Songs about loss, songs about lust, songs about listing, listing as in listing to one side, as in this side of the plane, as in this side of the sun. As in this side of love.
Hey sad one, what can we do what can we say what can we sing that would make you feel better? the Rear Flight Attendant asked.
I'm sorry? I said. How about "You'll Never Get to Heaven (If You Break My Heart)"?
Ha, the Rear Flight Attendant said. Just not the part about being careful, very careful, not to let the breaking thing happen, because that's not the way it goes, that's not the way things go, not now, that's not the way it is, no, not the way it goes. That's not modern love, is it?
I thought he added something about ghosting or go slow or go something, but I couldn't tell, not exactly, I couldn't think, not clearly.
I'm sorry? I said.
You're good, it's all good, everything is everything, he said.
Maybe it was all good. Maybe it wasn't. But there was seat 23A, my 23A. An earbudded someone sat in 23B.
I'm sorry, I said to 23B, then paused, paused a bit longer, then said-asked: I'm sorry?
I'm sorry—couldn't hear you, 23B said. I'm Alice—as in Go Ask Alice, as in Alice in Chains, as in Alison, the one with the aim, the one that is true. You like window seats? I like the aisle I hate flying do you hate flying? hey you look sad are you sad? got music want to listen to music? got a lot of songs what's your favorite song?
I thought about hearts and I thought about hurt and I thought about souls and I thought about holes. I looked into the deep-sea green of Alice's eyes.
I'm sorry, I said. Do you have "I'm Sorry I Love You or I'm Sorry I Loved You or I'm Sorry I'm Even Thinking About Love or I'm Just Plain Sorry" by The Woman in a Little Black Dress I Think I Might Love Because We Shared a Sapporo Light and a Lobster Taco at a Hotel Bar on a Ferociously Rainy Night in New York City's Chinatown Moments After Deciding I Was Through with Love Through as in Through with Love and Its Lack...But Then?
Alice looked at me and, I think, into my anything-but-open eyes.
Let me check my Spotify, she said, and the plane lurched, it leaned, it listed, and it didn't apologize, singing about not falling, not as in never, not as in no, not as in not in love, not as in not as in not as in not the modern kind, to a cheering flock of seagulls perched on the jet bridge.