Fear Of Flying, Part 1

(by kalithanatos, 28 December 2009)


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Fear of Flying
by kalithanatos
CHAPTER ONE

Janet Morris hated flying. The fear of being trapped inside a bucket hurtling
through the air at 500 miles per hour terrified her, and she had never found
a way to avoid it. She had tried medication, alcohol, classical music and
many more so-called `remedies', but nothing ever calmed her while she waited
in a departure lounge for that horrible moment when her flight would be
called. To be honest, she looked for any alternative to flying whenever
possible, but this time there was a crisis in France and her company wanted
her there *now*. Having no choice, she booked her airline ticket and trudged
off to Heathrow, wishing desperately she did not have a job where she
occasionally had to troubleshoot in another country.

And so it was that Janet found herself in Terminal 3 sucking frantically on a
mint, trying desperately to calm her racing heart. All around her, people
seemed nice and relaxed, reading their newspapers and drinking their coffees.
There were also a few people smoking, as the smoking ban that had been
imposed in Scotland and Ireland a few years back had still to take effect in
England. Janet had never smoked a cigarette in her life, and did not
understand why people continued to do it knowing all the risks. It was not
that she was against smoking, it just had never featured in her life - none
of her family or close friends smoked so this was not an environment she was
used to.

Suddenly, a young woman of about twenty threw herself down in the chair next
to Janet's. She was tall and elegant and dressed in some very fashionable
get-up. She wore designer sunglasses (although she was indoors) and had her
hair in bunches, making her look very cute.

"Do you mind if I sit here?" the young lady enquired.

Janet, seeing no choice considering the other woman was already sitting,
simply shook her head "no."

"Excellent," Janet's new friend continued, "Stupid traffic coming in nearly
caused me to miss my flight. Thankfully, I've got here in time to fill up on
some nicotine!" the woman said, extracting a green packet of cigarettes from
her purse. "Would you like one?" she asked Janet, offering her the pack.

"Oh, no thanks," Janet replied, "I don't smoke."

"Pity," the woman said, lighting up, "these things really calm me down before
a long flight."

Not knowing what to say, Janet sat in silence and tried to relax again,
hoping the woman would leave her alone. To be honest, she didn't know how to
react when confronted with new people, especially when they were this
boisterous. She would much rather have been left alone and try to take her
mind off the impending flight, trying to work out how to resolve the
situation when she arrived in Paris.

"Is my smoke bothering you?" the woman next to Janet enquired. Janet, who had
shown no discomfort as far as she knew, replied, "No, it's fine."

"It's just that you've went all quiet and sullen," the woman continued, "and
I just wanted to make sure it wasn't my fault. My name's Beth, by the way."

Realising it was impossible to ignore the woman, Janet replied, "Hi Beth, I'm
Janet. Feel free to smoke, and please believe I looked this miserable long
before you arrived."

Beth stubbed her cigarette out in the ashtray and immediately lit another.

"That's really nice of you, Janet. I've been having such a horrible day with
traffic and not being able to smoke all the way to the airport, and when I
got here I had to rush through check-in and security, so this is the first
time I've been able to smoke in hours. I really hate it when I can't have a
cigarette!" She emphasised this by taking a double drag and inhaling a
copious amount of smoke, holding it for 10 seconds and exhaling a small
stream away from Janet.

Janet watched all this with some amusement. 

"Wow, you really like to smoke, don't you?" she asked rhetorically.

"Sure do," Beth replied. "In fact, if it weren't for these babies," she said,
holding up the green pack for emphasis, "I wouldn't be getting on that
plane."

"What do you mean?" Janet asked, not understanding Beth's point.

"Well, I really hate flying, but smoking really calms my nerves, so I try to
get as much nicotine into my system as possible before I get on the plane to
get me through the flight. Then, when I get to the other side, I get through
customs as fast as possible and light up. It's all part of the process."

"You mean, smoking can really do that? Calm you down, I mean?"

"I take it you've never tried it?" Beth asked.

"No, not ever."

"Well, if you had you would know that smoking is really relaxing and can get
you through any stressful situation, flying being one."

Janet pondered that as Beth lit another cigarette with the glowing tip of her
last one. Janet had never considered that smoking had an upside, but Beth was
really selling it to her. Watching Beth light up and elegantly inhaling a
mouthful of smoke, Janet was starting to wonder how far she would go to get
over her fear of flying...

Beth interrupted Janet's train of thought by asking, "So, what's in Paris for
you?"

"Oh, a work thing. How about you?"

"A modelling assignment. Also a work thing - that's my job!"

"Really?" Janet responded, amazed. She had never met a model before. "That's
so cool."

"It really is," Janet responded. "I've been all around the world in the last
year."

"You must have smoked a lot of cigarettes, then, if you hate flying so much!"
Janet replied, pleased with her own wit.

"I sure have! I smoke 80-100 a day, depending on circumstance."

"Gosh, that seems like an awful lot. Don't smokers only have about 20 or
something normally?" Janet asked.

"Probably. I suppose it *is* a lot, but I really, really, really love to
smoke so I do it as often as possible, even when I'm making love to my
girlfriend!" Beth said the last bit quietly so no one else could hear, and
the two women giggled together like old friends.

After a brief pause, Janet said, "Beth, I have a terrible fear of flying too.
I've tried everything to get over it, but it just never goes away. I just
don't know what to try to next."

Sensing that Janet was leading somewhere with this, Beth let Janet continue.

"I've tried all the medications, read everything about airline safety, I've
even tried hypnotism for god's sake, but nothing works. What do you think I
should do, Beth?"

Beth now got the feeling that Janet was asking her if she could try a
cigarette, but she did not have the courage to say the actual words. Beth
decided to see if she was correct in her assumption.

"Janet, would you like to try one of my cigarettes?"

Faced with the direct question, Janet spluttered, "No! No...well, I mean, I
don't know. Do you think I should, Beth?"

Beth was amused to see the indecision in Janet. She thought she could make it
easier for her.

"Janet, I'm not going to tell you what you should or shouldn't do," Beth
started, "BUT, I do have an idea." Janet looked at Beth quizzically.

"I want you to close your eyes for me."

 Janet did as instructed.

"Now, I'm going to light another cigarette, and I'm going to hold it near
your mouth. It will be there for 20 seconds, and then it will be gone. The
rest is up to you."

Janet nodded her head in agreement and closed her eyes. She heard Beth
extract a fresh cigarette from her pack and light it. Janet's heart was
pounding with anticipation and trepidation as she heard Beth shift her body
to be closer to her own, and suddenly she could smell the smoke more
distinctly as the cigarette was moved to with inches of her mouth.

Beth said, "If you are sure you want to do this, now is the time."

Janet's mind started racing as she wondered what to do next. Should she go
ahead with this? COULD she go ahead with this? She just didn't know. What to
do?

Meanwhile, Beth was counting down the 20 seconds, watching her new friend's
discomfort with some amusement. As she approached the 20 second mark, she
thought to herself, "I knew she wouldn't go through with it!" and was just
about to pull the cigarette away when she suddenly saw movement. Janet's
mouth had opened slightly and her head was moving! Beth was momentarily
startled, then slowly moved the cigarette towards Janet's waiting orifice.

For her part, Janet was as surprised as Beth. She had decided not to try it
at around the 10 second mark, but found she couldn't move her head away for
some reason. Then, sensing that 20 seconds was approaching, time seemed to
slow down and inexplicably she found herself moving toward the cigarette.
Now, here she was, about to smoke!

She felt the cigarette touch her bottom lip. It was smooth and much lighter
than she thought it would be. She instinctively closed her lips around the
filter and started to suck. After a second, she felt the cigarette being
pulled away and Beth's reassuring voice gently said, "Now, open your mouth
and breathe in very slowly."

Janet felt her mouth open and the next thing she knew she was inhaling the
smoke deep into her lungs. The taste was not at all what she had expected -
she thought it might be bitter, somehow, but it was actually kind of minty -
and was quite pleasant. She held her breath as she had seen Beth do, then
blew out the remainder of the smoke gently to the side. She had done it! She
had smoked!

"Well done," said Beth proudly, "and you didn't cough or anything!"

"I know! I actually expected that to be unpleasant, but it was sort of...nice.
And the taste was minty, too."

"You got lucky there," Beth said. "These are actually my girlfriend's
cigarettes. I usually smoke a full flavour brand, but I was running late
today and grabbed these as backup. My first smoking experience was menthol,
too - they are much easier for a beginner, as they are a lot smoother."

Most of this went over Janet's head as the smoking terminology was alien to
her and she was still marvelling at her own achievement.

"Would you like to try that again?" Beth asked.

Without hesitation, Janet nodded in agreement and Beth held the cigarette
towards Janet's waiting mouth. This time, when Janet closed her lips around
the filter to breathe the smoke in, Beth let go of the cigarette and backed
away. A momentary look of panic came across Janet and, realising she had no
choice, she formed her fingers into the traditional V-shape and extracted the
cigarette as she inhaled. Now she truly was smoking! Yet again she held the
smoke in her lungs for a few seconds before exhaling. This time, she was
aware of the head-rush that followed and decided that she really rather
enjoyed this.

Beth, meanwhile, lit a fresh cigarette of her own and sat back in her own
chair. The two women smoked in silence for the next few moments until Janet
decided she had had enough and stubbed the cigarette out in the ashtray.

"What did you think?" Beth asked.

Janet took a moment and replied, "It was actually quite good. I feel nice and
relaxed and have not even thought about flying for the last few minutes!"

"Looks like you might have found your cure, after all," Beth said, winking.

"Looks like it!" Janet agreed, just as it was announced the gate was opening
for passengers to board.


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