“Finished the Walk Around, Martin?” Douglas drawled from his seat as Martin re-entered the
“Yep,” he responded. “Why else would I be back in the plane?”
“Just checking,” Douglas shrugged. “You did check everything?”
“Of course I did,” Martin scoffed. “That is what the walk-around is for.”
“Well, I’m never sure considering your previous experience with walk ‘rounds.”
“Shut up, Douglas,” Martin sulked. You leave a cat in the hold just once and they never let you
forget it. He reached over to turn on the intercom. “Everything ready in the back Arthur?”
“Yep,” his voice chirped through the speaker. “Everything looks in order back here Skip.”
Martin nodded, despite knowing that Arthur couldn’t see him. He turned to doing the pre-flight
checks with Douglas before finally taking off and heading back home.
“So what game are we playing today, chaps?” Arthur asked, coming up to the flight deck.
“Dunno, haven’t come up with one yet,” Martin said, moving to tap one of Gerti’s meters, as it had seemed to stop working.
“We could always play -”
“No,” Martin and Douglas interrupted, knowing exactly where it was going and cutting it off before it started. Arthur sobered a little, but didn’t say anything else as he wandered out of the flight deck.
“Sometimes I wonder if we’re too hard on him,” Martin wondered aloud. Douglas snorted, obviously not agreeing but didn’t say anything. Silence filled the plane...
That was until a shout was from heard from the seating area.
“Who are you?” a female voice asked.
“I’m Arthur, who are you?” Arthur replied. “And why are still... well... here?”
Martin and Douglas looked at each a moment before Douglas pressed the intercom button. “Uh, Arthur? What’s going on? Did you find a puppy?”
There was a few seconds of footsteps before the cabin door opened again. “No, I found a girl.”
Martin quickly turned in his seat. “But we delivered all our passengers! There’s not supposed to be anyone else on board. If the CDC hears about this we’re all going to be in such much trouble... and Carolyn will probably...”
“Where is she?” Douglas asked over Martin’s frantic ramblings.
“Here...” came a quiet voice of a brown haired girl hiding behind Arthur. “I’m so so so sorry! I didn’t realize when we landed - I think I was asleep - and obviously I didn’t get off and now you’re going to get in trouble and -” She stopped abruptly, her eyes filling with tears.
“Oh no. Don’t... Don’t cry.” Arthur pleaded, sniffing a bit. “It’ll be okay. Douglas will sort something out.”
“What would you have me do, Arthur?” he responded. “Throw her out door with a parachute?”
Her eyes widened in response to that, fear accompanying the growing tears in her eyes. “Don’t worry, I won’t,” Douglas continued. “What’s your name?”
“Elizabeth,” she squeaked.
“Well then Elizabeth, looks like you’re stuck with the three of us until we land,” Douglas said, turning to face the clouds. “As we’re currently flying over the Atlantic Ocean, it’ll take us a while to find a place to land. Once we do though, we’ll figure out a way to get home.” She just nodded in response.
“Alrighty then, now that that’s settled, what shall be do for the next few hours?” Douglas asked.
Martin sputtered for a second. “Douglas, what are you talking about?! We can’t do that?!”
“What else are we going to do, Martin?”
“We should turn around, that’s what we should do!”
“And risk the wrath of Carolyn?” Douglas said. “Or, even better, risk having her to pay for the extra landing fees? Would you really do that to a person?”
“Y-Yes!” he exclaimed, obviously not realizing she was still there until he heard a whimper and saw her leave in a whirl of brown hair. “Wait! I didn’t mean... urgh.” He buried his face in his hands.
“Way to go, Martin. You sure have a way with the ladies.”
“Shut up Douglas!”
Elizabeth sat in one of the back seats of the plane, softly sniffing. She had already felt really bad about oversleeping and missing her stop. And on her birthday, of all days. Now she had the pilots fighting and she was just causing more problems than ever. She sighed and reached a hand up to wipe away a tear. This whole trip had been a horrible idea.
“Um... hi.” She turned to see the silly man from earlier who had found her. He was standing awkwardly, shifting from foot to foot, holding a mug that was steaming. “ I don’t know if you like tea or not, but I know when I’m feeling down it makes me feel better, so I decided to make you a cup without asking. I hope you like tea though. Cause it’s brilliant.” He ended his rambly statement by holding it out to her.
“Thank you,” she whispered, reaching out to grasp it. He smiled in response, moving to sit in the seat opposite of her. “I do like tea, actually.”
“Oh good. Though, now that I think about it, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like tea. But maybe that’s because I’m British. I’m sure there’s someone who doesn’t like tea.” He continued his musing aloud and Elizabeth felt her smile grow from merely one of politeness to a real one. She sipped at the tea, and while not to her liking, it filled her with a warming sensation that was comfortable.
“I’m sorry about Skip and Douglas.” She turned her attention back to the strange, funny man who had turned sober again. “Especially Skip. He can be very serious sometimes. I know he didn’t mean to hurt your feelings.”
“Thank you,” she repeated, not wanting to expand much. “This just isn’t the way I wanted to spend my birthday.”
Arthur’s face melted into one of surprise, complete with an O shaped mouth. “It’s your birthday?!” he asked excitedly. “That’s fantastic!”
She attempted to force another smile in his enthusiasm, but she was sure it ended up looking more like a grimace. “Oooh! Hold on a second!” he exclaimed, getting up from his seat and disappearing into the galley.
What a strange man...
“Hey guys! I have an idea on what to do until we land!” Arthur said, bursting into the flight deck.
“And what would that be?” Douglas asked. Martin looked very down, staring down at his controls with a frown on his face.
“Well, you see, it’s Elizabeth’s birthday and I feel like we should do something special for her!” Arthur looked so pleased with his suggestion and was bouncing up and down in excitement.
“It would give us something to do,” Douglas admitted. “And it sounds much more interesting than sitting here and watching Martin stare forlornly into his controls. I’m in.”
“Yay! And what about you, Skip?”
He grunted something that sounded like a sure, so Arthur merely cheered again. “Alright, you two just worry about finding presents and I’ll do everything else!” And with that he sprinted out of the deck.
“Oh lovely. This should be a piece of cake. Find a gift on a plane several thousands of feet in the air,” Douglas said mainly to himself.
Martin perked up a bit. “Well... maybe that could be our gift. We are in an aeroplane.”
Douglas considered him for a second. “Right you are, my friend. What did you have in mind?”
“Okay, make sure to keep your eyes closed and covered for a few more seconds!”
“Arthur, what are you doing?” Elizabeth asked, her hands covering her eyes.
“You’ll see!” he responded with glee. She listened as she heard him move back and forth through the cabin, grunting every once in a while.
“Okay, just wait a few more seconds. I gotta go talk to Skip and Douglas, but I’ll be right back!” He turned to go and turned back briefly to say, “But don’t open your eyes!”
She nodded, unsure if he saw her or not. She was beginning to regret having told him it was her birthday. Keeping her eyes closed, she patted the tray in front of her looking for her tea before bringing it up and taking another sip.
She heard footsteps again. “Okay! You can open them now!” When she did, she saw that the cabin been decorated with toilet paper strung from one side to another, attempting to mimic party streamers. Apparently Arthur had tried to make it more festive by adding dots of color with black and red permanent markers as well.
He was standing in front of her with a huge smile on his face, a homemade card in his hands thrust out in front of him. Elizabeth was fairly sure she could see macaroni glued on the inside. “HAPPY BIRTHDAY!” He yelled.
She was speechless. He had done this for her, just because it was her birthday. Silently, she reached a hand out to take the card from him. There was indeed macaroni on the inside, complete with drawn stick figures of what she guessed was herself, Arthur, and the two pilots. Inside was written “Happy Birthday!”
“Oh my...” she finally said, swallowing a lump in her throat. This was one of the nicest things anyone had done for her. “Thank you so much, Arthur. It’s lovely.” She offered another smile.
“Oh, it’s not a problem,” he responded, suddenly looking a little bashful, shifting between his feet again. “But that’s not all! If you wait -”
Suddenly he was interrupted by a smooth voice coming over the speakers. “Ahem. Attention Ladies and... well, Lady. If you would turn your attention to the right side of the place, you will see for your viewing pleasure our gift to you.”
Curious, Elizabeth stood up and crossed to look out the windows only to find the skyline of Paris. She gasped audibly. A different voice, which she recognized at the pilot who had yelled before, came over the intercom. “Happy Birthday. Also, We... well... I would like to apologize for earlier. That was more than bit rude. Thank you for flying MJN Air.”
Perhaps the best birthdays, Elizabeth realized, was the ones that you couldn't ever plan for.