The choked, circular windows are covered in dried water droplets, likely from a storm the week before. They block the view.
On the floor lies a watch, forgotten in the haste of exiting passengers. It blinks 6:34 AM. The blue, faux-leather seats are old and cracking. Some of them no longer recline, their levers permanently depressed. Others have seatbelts hardly willing to click.
Seat 2A is cleaner, straighter, like a Captain’s seat. Its pocket is half-full. SkyMall, the Autumn 2001 edition, needs replacing, but the page “767-222 Layout” is durable. Its laminated corners are sharp with importance, sharp with the first-class flawlessness of something little used. A stub is under the seat, torn where the agent missed the serrations. It was left behind during an arrival, the last of its day. It was lucky.
The stub says “LAX -> BOS. United Airlines 174.” This morning, the tickets will go the other way: BOS -> LAX.
Their number will be odd: “United Airlines 175.”
The sun is beginning to rise, a deep hue pounding into the plane’s fuselage, its rays absorbed by the steel hull. In the light, the plane’s long body seems to bend and break.
The front hatch opens. It’s almost time to go.
Inside, the little watch flickers. The time disappears, replaced by the date: “9/11/01.”