“I’m going to shoot myself,” he said.
What? Why would he say that?
He shook his head slowly and then moved close to her face. She leaned towards him coquettishly in response.
Vodka tonics. Red wine.
They had already consumed an unknown number of drinks, and it was around the sixth hour of the transatlantic flight when they began to make out. Perhaps their amorous behavior was a result of their alcoholic intake. Perhaps not.
The young man looked to be in his mid-thirties, and his lilted French accent added to his mysterious and exotic allure. He was tall, well-dressed and had strong facial features. He had a prominent nose that somehow fit his face, deep set eyes and olive skin.
She, on the other hand, was young and fair. Her thin, blonde hair cascaded around her shoulders. Her freckled face, round and sweet, was punctuated by large, blue eyes. She may not have been much more than twenty.
I never learned their names, but over the course of our aeronautical journey, I dubbed them Victor and Camille.
I boarded the Boeing 767 in Brussels and found my seat, 20B, for my flight back to the USA. Passengers filed into the aircraft, and I noticed the first encounter of Victor and Camille. With a rakish smile, Victor took the seat next to Camille in Row 19. From my aisle seat, directly behind Victor, I followed the story of two misguided hearts as it unfolded in front of me.
At first, they seemed like a normal pair of passengers, making small talk here and there. As the flight progressed and the flight attendants carted refreshments through the aircraft, I noted that Victor ordered alcoholic beverages for both of them with unusual frequency. Each time he returned to his seat from the lavatory, he focused only on Camille – the way a lion’s gaze never turns from its prey. A brief flash of sinister greed crossed his face, and my growing doubts over Victor’s integrity doubled. Eventually, they began to engage in a gross display of affection that was impossible to ignore.
“I’m going to shoot myself,” he said.
I determined that Victor was voicing – albeit quite dramatically – his disappointment that Camille was not single. Nevertheless, he was determined to woo her, and if not her heart, then at least, her body.
Victor pulled out his phone and took a picture of Camille. Next, they took selfies. Not very good ones. A little blurry and poorly framed. They giggled over the results on the screen.
Victor leaned in, and Camille moved her head back against the plane window in an inviting gesture. “I like you,” I heard him sigh as he came in closer. Their lips met in drunken lust. Every now and then, Camille would break away from Victor’s grasp and whisper meekly in protest.
Twice, I heard the word “husband” in the midst of their murmurings. Lamentably, Camille’s objections did not prove resolute enough for either of them, and they continued their physical intimacy through sequences of cooing, kissing, and caressing.
Is this really happening? I wondered. Does anyone else realize what is going on here?
Apparently not. I glanced around the cabin, and no one seemed to notice the couple’s sloppy embrace. And likewise, the couple did not seem to notice anyone else, including me.
As the plane began its descent, Victor and Camille began to talk a little more and kiss a little less. At one point, they both slipped into French, which was an unexpected revelation of Camille’s persona. A torrent of hushed words swirled around them as they continued their adulterous tête-à-tête.
Sometime later, Victor huskily breathed into Camille’s ear, “You’re so hot.” Reinvigorated, he presented Camille with a seductive offer: “I will buy you a new flight. Tell him you got delayed. It’s one night… one night. Just follow your heart.”
From my position, I could see Camille’s conflicted face and the wheels turning in her head. She realized the choices in front of her, but by this point in time, it wasn’t a fair fight. The unbridled desire to be absolutely adored was pulling her away from an ever wavering faithfulness.
“I will take you to a great restaurant,” Victor persisted. “It will be so nice. Look, I will buy your flight to L.A. for tomorrow.” Victor turned on his phone and began searching the internet for flights. “You see?” he said. “There is one that leaves tomorrow afternoon. Just say you missed your connection today.”
The scene made me sick. Don’t do it, Camille! I screamed in my mind. Oh, no… she is totally caving in to him! I can’t not say something… I’ve seen too much. I have to talk to her.
The plane skidded to a halt on U.S. soil, and I immediately stood up as the seatbelt sign rang off. “Excuse me,” I said leaning over the seats and looking directly at Camille. She peered up at me with a knowing glance. On the contrary, Victor stared straight ahead.
“I’ve been sitting behind you on the plane,” I started, “and I’ve seen what’s been happening. I don’t mean to be rude, but I would suggest that you take your flight today.”
With feigned thoughtfulness, Camille replied quietly, “Yes, I know.”
Victor didn’t say a word. He didn’t look at her. He didn’t look at me. He remained entirely motionless.
“I know we don’t know each other,” I said with all the compassion I could convey, “but I just want what is best for you.”
For a moment, Camille’s eyes locked with mine, and I silently pleaded with her to make the right choice. To remain faithful. To not make this avoidable mistake. To recognize her worth and to understand that she is precious and beautiful. To guard her heart. To not spend the evening with this stranger.
Then her gaze drifted away, and I retreated to my seat.
As the passengers in the front cabin began to exit, we began to prepare to disembark as well. The three of us stood shoulder to shoulder in silence. My heart beat wildly with hope that Camille would make the right decision, and as much as I wanted to encourage her further, I knew that I had said enough already. After all, her heart was her own, and Camille will always be the one to decide with whom she will share it.
In the end, I can not say what decision she made. I lost sight of the young man and beautiful blonde as we entered U.S. Customs, and I do not know what happened to these two people.
The human heart is a curious thing – a beating organism that is full of beauty and wonder, and, at the same time, riddled with dark desires and insidious secrets. On that flight, I witnessed how easily the heart can be misguided. Their faces are etched into my memory, and all I can do is hope that their hearts will be mended – one day.
This story is true. It happened to me, to them. Although, I am curious, dear readers, to know that if it were you in seat 20B that day, would you have done anything differently?