all the measurements and breakdowns known to science, for there still
remained a curious alchemy of composition and refraction, cosmic and
terrestrial elements, that refused analysis. His body could sense
genuine daylight, even when all physical stimuli proclaimed otherwise.
Even rainy days, clouds all but obscuring the sun, had no effect on
him. But crossing the border of twilight would bring back the pains,
the rash, the near-death.
Months (or was it years?) later, it was determined that there was
no reason or cure to be found, the final doctor threw up his hands
in defeat, and he was finally, blessedly alone on these perpetual
flights. Sometimes his family would travel with him, a day or two
spent together as if he was on probation. His brothers and sisters
were not like him; they wearied of the plane's neutral-toned innards,
feared for crashes and acts of God, much preferred to talk about the
latest fashions or neighbor-
hood gossip. His parents were a bit old for frequent travel and spent
much of their time aboard sprawled on the living room carpet, lolling
with the jet's minute twists and turns, caught in dreamless sleep.
Soon his family also vanished - there was too much to attend to. Sisters
and brothers had daughters and sons, fortunes waxed and waned, and
life outside the regulated routines of the cargo plane gained precedence.
Through it all he remained on board, his life distilled to the swatches
of color outside the window, the reheated meals neatly compartmentalized
into their squares and rectangles on his tray, the ever-present drone
of the turbines.
That was years ago. Since then, jets had progressed in speed and frequency,
and trains had followed suit, from bullet to maglev to supersonic.
Life became easier yet more complicated - now there were choices.