“Vancouver, here I come,” he uttered quietly to himself. He tightened his seat-belt, laid his head back onto the head-rest and closed his eyes. “That was that,” he thought to himself. But of course it wasn’t. Not by a long way.
Vancouver was a destination chosen completely at random in the airport by closing his eyes, jabbing a finger at a world map, and hurriedly switching from Greenland to Canada. The next flight he could get bound for Canada was destined for Vancouver and that was duly arranged and paid for. He knew that he was flying into the unknown, but he was also flying away from the very well known. Restrictions around him had recently tightened to such an extent that he was, literally, hounded from front cover to back cover. He was a writer, that was to say he was the hottest property this, or any side, of Canary Wharf. He was too visible in London, his profile was as low as could be managed, but that wasn’t saying much. Every day it felt as if the noose of notoriety was closing tighter and tighter around his neck. If it tightened any more, he felt that he would have gone past any hope of return. Thus Vancouver beckoned him.
“Would Sir like a drink?” asked a silken voice.
He pulled himself awake and blinked his eyes three or four times. He looked up into the smiling eyes of a Canada Airways stewardess. “Um, yes, that would be very nice, thank you,” he managed weakly. “I’ll have a bitter lemon with ice please.
“Certainly, Sir, I’ll be one moment,” she smiled at him with her whole face and turned to her task.
“Where are we in our journey? he asked. “I don’t suppose we’ve gone that far yet.”
“We are well out over the Atlantic now, Sir. Almost four hours out and only six more to go,” she answered smoothly. “Following wind and clear conditions mean that we are ahead of schedule – Vancouver in time for breakfast, Sir.”
“Thanks,” he responded. “Thanks, again,” for the drink this time.
“You’re welcome, Sir. Give a push on the green button there if you require anything else.” She moved off down the aisle to light up someone else’s moment.
Vancouver for breakfast. A quiet breakfast he hoped. A little table for one outside the local Canadian Starbucks. No hoards of news-hounds or autograph-hunters that appeared continuously just to dissolve his solitude. He’d still have to get down to his writing again, but, temporarily at least, he was in a position to give that a rest for a while. He would let the fuss die down and approach the future differently. His agent would have gone spare by now, but a phone call to him from Vancouver airport would at least let him know that he was still in the land of the scribbling.
He turned to the window and mulled a few things over as the sky passed by in a never-ending procession of clear blue and just the occasional fluffy white cloud in the distance. The cold blue sea was far below somewhere, but he didn’t feel the need to confirm its existence. He was quite happy that they kept their mutual distance and didn’t want to think too much on the possibility of anything untoward happening. He was glad that he was not hampered by anybody being in the seat next to him and enjoyed the comfort space the aircraft designers had allocated for his leg-room.
What a month he had just experienced. A ‘roller-coaster ride from the writer of the decade’ they had written. And people had latched on to his work just like that (he mentally clicked his fingers – ‘click’). One minute total anonymity, the next his name and face were known from one end of the kingdom to the other. He couldn’t move without a camera being there to record any and every event and non-event. His actions were hot stuff in the papers and he was shown on television more than most hair-care adverts ever were.
He had resolved to escape. His willpower was such that he was determined in his need and desires to leave behind all the hype and circumstance. Heaped upon this was the urge to avoid the three ring circus that was what his life would become if he didn’t act now. He was resolved to run his life the way that he wanted it run. He had to leave and his need for action determined that he had to leave straight away. He was adamant at the airport to make for a destination away from everything. He felt a choice had to be made. Ambition could be put on hold, but realism was his driving force.
Vancouver tightened that.
A thought happened in his head. He took out a notebook and a biro.
Scarlet clad and smart, she leaned forward into his personal space. “Would sir like a little excitement?”
Mitchell smiled at the stewardess. “That would be just what the writer ordered.” He noticed her matching scarf and lipstick tied and applied to perfection and rose to follow her to the rear of the aircraft.
PS This story is taken from the premise of “take three words at random from a book and write a story around them – “Vancouver”, “tightened” and “that” came out in that order – this is the result.