The air inside the plane smelled exactly as it did in every other plane she’d taken. It was slightly antiseptic, very dry, and white. She assigned it a color because that was easier than painstakingly describing every little nuance that drifted through her olfactory system. There was a mélange of other odors swirling around in there as well, but they were all simple human stinks. The air that the plane produced was a singular experience, something wholly mechanical and unnatural. You’d never be walking through a forest somewhere and catch a whiff of ‘plane air’, she thought. Even in the dark and cavernous recesses of some oil pocket deep underground, the smells there would be far earthier and more identifiable as ‘of the planet’ than the oxygen that cycled around her.

She wondered what the inside of a spacecraft smelled like and concluded that it would be identical. She felt that more research was necessary, but time was short and the overall importance of determining what constituted plane air was low on her list of things that she had to accomplish.

Her section of the plane was blissfully empty. She’d waited with some trepidation as the other passengers had boarded, smiling at the ones who’d made eye contact and voraciously observing those who hadn’t. As they’d approached, she willed them to keep moving or stop early; anything but squeeze past and huff down in the seat next to her. Either her will was especially strong—or the plane especially under booked—because when the tarmac started flowing past her window she had a decent-sized bubble of freedom around her.

The quality of the air remained relatively pure.

2014.09.28 – 2023.05.23

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