Hypoxia

By Elijah Cobb

On an airplane. AIRABELLA is sitting on the seat closest to the aisle while BRET the Flight Attendant is tending to the beverage cart.

BRET: Hello, would you like a drink?

AIRABELLA: Yeah, what do you have in terms of, you know. (Motions taking a shot.)

BRET: (pauses, not getting the intention completely) Well we have Coca-cola products, teas, water, beer, wine…

AIRABELLA: Yes, that. The wine.

BRET: Red or white?

AIRABELLA: Ugh, I’m sorry I’m not in a really choosey mood. Just give me what’s good.

BRET: I haven’t exactly tasted any of these wines so I’m just going to give you the white if that’s okay.

AIRABELLA: No the red. I want the red.

BRET: Great, can I have your credit or debit card?

AIRABELLA: What?

BRET: The wine costs 4 dollars. I’m sorry if you didn’t catch that, although that is how this airline has been doing things for the past few years.

AIRABELLA: Well you see, I haven’t been on an airplane in 15 years.

BRET: Oh, I apologize.

Beat

The grape juice is complementary if you want something with similar taste.

AIRABELLA: No, no. alcohol is what this (motions all around her body) is asking for. Some stuff just isn’t sitting in the right place.

BRET: If you’re feeling sick may I recommend ginger ale? The carbon-dioxide helps the stomach. Wine wouldn’t do any good for that. Luckily the cross-American route has low turbulence so it will be a smooth…

AIRABELLA: Is the beer cheap?

BRET: 4 dollars as well

AIRABELLA: I’m not feeling sick, although thank you for the help. I think I’m just going to skip the drink right now.

BRET: Okay, well if you need any assistance that button right there will call one of the flight attendants.

AIRABELLA: Wow, fancy. What little respect these airplanes have for your worth. If I had a button that would call me to someone to help them with their barf bag I would probably find a very tall place and just walk... right... off.

BRET: It’s all part of the job. Now, if you’ll excuse me

BRET moves forward to the next patron. AIRABELLA gets settled in and closes her eyes as if to sleep before they pop open. She looks up and goes to hit a button. Light covers her, she hit the reading light button. She covers her eyes before going back up and hitting the flight attendant button.

BRET: Oh, sorry I didn’t realize you wanted something else. Snacks, an entertainment device, blanket?

AIRABELLA: How high, in the air, are we right now?

BRET: Seeing as we’re at cruising altitude, 35,000 feet.

AIRABELLA: Have you ever thought about jumping out of a plane?

BRET: You know what? I actually have. I went skydiving with my fiance a month before we were gonna get married.

AIRABELLA: Oh, I didn’t mean that literally.

BRET: What? Ma’am, are you okay?

AIRABELLA: I just never really liked airplanes.

BRET: Well, I promise you’re safe.

AIRABELLA: What if like the door opened, just like wasn’t locked properly?

BRET: Well, the masks would pop down from the ceiling and the plane would descend abruptly. If you’re near the breach you might get sucked out but seat belts help with that. What would happen is the cabin would go to about -50 fahrenheit and the air would be so thin that if you spent 30 seconds breathing it in you would die of hypoxia. That’s why we have the masks. Hypoxia kinda stops your brain from controlling your body so you wouldn’t even be able to move your muscles to save yourself. That’s why you should do your mask before helping others because otherwise you wouldn’t be able to help yourself. No one wants to die as their brains cells erode from lack of oxygen after saving their child from the same fate. Trust me on that one.

AIRABELLA: Oh, damn. Sounds lovely. Do you think the red or white would compliment brain death more? Oh silly me, of course the red it has higher alcohol content so it would just kill my brain cells faster. Here’s my card the pin is 0000 if you need that.

BRET: Ma’am, are you really saying you want to be exposed to the atmosphere at this height?  In training we were (cut off)

AIRABELLA: No, I’m saying I need to be hungover tomorrow because I am hungover right now and it feels wonderful.

BRET: We have a bloody mary mix if you’re feeling hungover.

AIRABELLA: No, I want the wine. (
harshly) Thank you. Could I also get some pretzel sticks while you’re at it?

BRET: Ma’am, something is obviously going wrong. I’m going to need you to calm down and take some deep breaths. We’ll be in Baltimore in only 2 hours.

AIRABELLA: (loudly) NO, I want your shitty little wine because I want to be numb for 2 goddamn more hours and you know what? You’re going to give me that fucking wine because that’s all you have in this world. Me.

BRET runs to notify the captain. AIRABELLA calls down the aisle towards him.

 I have the button so if you think you can scurry away from me and never talk to me again for the last 15 years you can’t. I can push one button and everything is mine. I have power that you never will have. One button. That’s everything you need in this world. One fucking tiny button.

BRET returns holding a wine bottle

BRET: Ma’am, here is your wine. One more outburst like that I’m afraid we're going to land the plane and kick you out.

AIRABELLA: (excitedly) Where would we land?

BRET: Probably, Columbus?

AIRABELLA: Really? Columbus. Of all the places. We’re not going back there.

BRET: I and everyone on this plane would also prefer Baltimore, so if you don’t want to go to your home city, we really don’t have to.

AIRABELLA: But no, you see, Columbus is bad but the last thing I want is to go to Baltimore. Yeah I was born in Columbus and I never want to go back there but it’s my family that ruined Ohio for me and guess what is waiting for me in Maryland? (way too cheery for this line) My dad. (pause) Who’s dying. Yay! (serious face) So yeah stop this death tube right now because I just can’t be in the same state with my dad.

BRET: You know my dad also is in the Baltimore area. I’m sorry about your relationship with yours but there are others who have things to look forward when we touch down once again. I know it’s hard but you have to pull back and understand that it will be okay.

AIRABELLA: It’s not going to be okay. I’ve been told it’s okay for years now. I thought it was okay two days ago. I knew it was. I was happy and even healthy. He took that away as he always fucking does. Even on his deathbed he can make things not okay. That son of a bitch probably left a treasure in the Smithsonian that if I don’t discover will curse my kin for generations. That’s just the immature, uncaring, boarding psychopathic thing my old man would revel in. I’m done letting him decide when I’m okay.

Beat

It takes 30 seconds until you die from hypoxia, right?

AIRABELLA grabs the wine and throws it at the window. It breaks the bottle but the window stays intact.

BRET: Alright ma’am. Columbus it is. You’ve made your choice.

AIRABELLA: (looking at the damage) Shit. This plane needs to get out of the sky one way or another.

BRET: Why?

AIRABELLA: There must be a button. One button. There’s always been a button.

AIRABELLA stands up and walks towards the cockpit. BRET grabs her and keeps her back.

BRET: (desperate) Please no. We don’t have to go to Columbus. Sit back down.

AIRABELLA: Huh, I bet your wife is in fucking Columbus, that’s why you don’t want to go. Every shitty person is from Columbus including me and my dad and probably you.

BRET: No, my wife’s in Baltimore. Well just outside, in a hospital near the airport. She’s going there for school. (AIRABELLA calms down) I visit her once in awhile but this time is... special. In a good way. That’s why my dad and mom and her entire family are all there. You have no right to stop me from seeing my daughter—that’s still weird to say  my daughter being born.

AIRABELLA: (taking the chaos in) Okay then. I’ve decided. The white please. (pause) Also Baltimore.

BRET: Sorry I can’t get that wine for you. Also, you should know that once this plane lands you’ll be in police custody. Also I zip tied your arms together. Threatening to crash a plane into the ground doesn’t go by without consequence. I didn’t really need to tell you that I’m having a child but it makes it easier for me if you’re calmed down. Have a nice flight. I hope your dad is okay, or dies if that’s what you need.

AIRABELLA sits back down. BRET fastens her seat belt.

AIRABELLA: This is… okay. You’ve actually solved all my problems. (Facing the audience) See dad, I still can do what I want.

BRET moves to the next seat

BRET: Hello, sorry for the delay, would you like a drink?