by terry voyle

When she closed that door, I knew my life would never be the same again. Don't ask me

how, I knew, I just knew. After the door slammed shut, I felt my world had become a plush 365-seat coffin. Oh, everything seemed normal, people smiling, laughing, and enjoying themselves. How could they be so relaxed?

"You alright sir?" asked the stewardess, so normally.

"Um, yes, yes thank-you" I lied. Just getting acclimatised, first time flying d'ysee".

"Lucky you", she says, " first time is brilliant, I envy you".

Is she bloody mad? I thought. Here we all are stuffed in a metal tube, with four great big inflammable engines stuck on flimsy wings, full of explosive liquid. About to take off, to go up in the air 20,000 feet above the ground., not to mention 20,000 feet above the flaming' ocean. Does she realise how many moving parts there are in an aircraft? Does she realize any one of those parts can go wrong? Does she realize everything can be working wonderfully, but, things still fall off?

"Sit by Mrs. Drysdale" the stewardess, says, "She's got over a million air miles".

I don't believe it, she's put me next to a lady whose time must be overdue, laws of averages and all that. I can't believe it" Mrs. Drysdale is knitting, Yes, knitting a bloody sock in a flying bomb, I ask you.

"Don't worry dearie, I'll look after you," grins Mrs. Drysdale. "Nice to have company on a boring flight".

Boring flight"doesn't she know, how many electrical storms there are up there? How much turbulence there is up there? How many aeroplanes just disappear up there?

"Fasten safety belts please. We are getting ready for take off ", says a voice from nowhere.

I grit my teeth, gird my loins, grip my armrests.

"Try to relax dearie", says Mrs. Drysdale. "I can see you're a bit tense".

"Bit tense", I retorted. " Well I suppose you could say that, but do you know how dangerous flying can be? Those pilots are always partying between trips, they drink like fish. I bet they're up the front now, blotto, with a stewardess pouring black coffee down their throats. Not only that but nobody knows if the Bermuda Triangle really is triangular, it could be square or even rectangular, we might be in it now"".

"Listen dearie says Mrs. Drysdale," Iused to be like you, but I found something special to help me through my nervousness".

"You did", I asked with growing interest," Not Valium is it? I've done that," I said indignantly.

"Oh no dearie," she said in a quiet voice, "It's a COMFORT STONE."

"Pardon me,"I stammered.

"It's a COMFORT STONE dearie, I carry it with me whenever I'm flying," she explains. "I know I'm safe when I have this with me, done over a million air miles and not a bit of bother."

Oh dear, I think to myself, this is all I need, sat next to an old lady who believes in mumbo jumbo. Why did I let my daughter persuade me to take this trip? I was alright going to Skegness every year, but, "Oh have a change," she said," try abroad," she said, "you'll love it when you've tried it," she said. Well I don't and I'm not going to even if I survive, so there.

"Would you like to hold my COMFORT STONE," asks Mrs. Drysdale in a soothing motherly voice.

"Well," I start to say.

"It will help you dearie," she persuades, in a, eat all your dinner up, good boy, type voice.

What can I do? She' s a lovely old dear, " um, O.K." I say.

She pulls out a little leather purse with a drawstring top, must be many years old as the leather is really dark and wrinkled, then tipped out the contents into the palm of her hand.

I saw a beautiful tear shaped stone, what it was made of I had no idea, but it was the size of a walnut with gorgeous blue/green strata running through it, a truly beautiful object.

"These are special, only found in tranquil places," whispered Mrs. Drysdale."

"Tranquil places," I asked enquiringly.

"Yes only in peaceful pleasant countryside, that has never seen war or pestilence or sadness and they are always tear shaped." When you hold the stone, it absorbs all your fears and worries, it makes you relaxed and contented." Please, hold it, try it, it will ease your anxieties."

What's the point of arguing? "Thank you" I said and took the stone.

"Now just hold it in the palm of your hand and let it do its work."

I sigh, I'm too weak to argue, I could say "what a load of tosh," but she means well and anyway where's the harm? I take the stone.

I must say mind you, I've noticed this is a very comfortable seat actually, nice and restful. These airplanes are very well built y'know, very sturdy looking, well-lit, airy, warm, just right really. Ha, look at those kids playing across the aisle enjoying themselves, in fact everyone seems friendly and in good humour. Well look at that, a film being shown down the front of the "plane, Jim Carrey, no wonder everyone's laughing, I love this one, ha ha ha.

"Would you like some lunch sir?" asks the stewardess.

I didn't realise how hungry I was, "yes please," I said enthusiastically.

I enjoyed that, feeling a bit tired now, I think I'll just shut my eyes for five minutes, must be getting used to this flying lark, acclimatizing you might say I'm feeling quite proud of myself. Just shows, strong character can overcome anything, oh yes I'm that alright. Well, I just realised, I'm still holding this bloody stone, I must have ate my lunch with it in my hand, still, keeps Mrs. Dyson happy, (yawn), just rest my eyes, COMFORT STONE my bum "zzzzzzz.

"Wake up dearie, were there, " shouts Mrs. Dyson poking me awake". You slept all the way".

I come to, rub my eyes, she's right were landing. I can't get over it we have arrived.

"I'll have my stone back now dearie," says Mrs. Dyson, "told you it would work."

"Yes of course, " I was still holding the thing, "thanks Mrs. Dyson,"I lied.

Ah well, disembarking now good to have your feet back on Terra Firma. Three weeks in the sun lovely, relax, get drunk, dance the night away with beautiful senoritas, well, relax and get drunk anyway, before I get back to the grind. Wait a minute, back to the grind, back! I've got to go back, fly back. What if I get a faulty "plane, an incompetent pilot, hit bad weather.

Oh No, what about the COMFORT STONE? I can't do it without a COMFORT STONE.

I must have a COMFORT STONE.

Where's Mrs. Drysdale?"


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