The engine roared beneath the floor. I woke from a broken sleep, my head against the window, my hair plastered to the side of my face. I sat up and cringed at the twinge in my neck. I checked the time – ninety minutes left on a three-hour flight. I stretched out my legs only to find them stiff and unyielding; my tight muscles recoiled against the stretch. I looked towards the aisle, contemplating a short walk to loosen the grip of the old lady. I glanced at my partner relaxing in the middle seat. I tipped my head to look at the man in the aisle seat – he was fast asleep. I wasn’t sure how I could extricate myself from my corner without disturbing the sleeping man. In my mind, I devised several fancy ways to sneak by him, graceful and crafty, in the style of James Bond; I smiled at the lithe body I envisioned creeping out to the aisle, unnoticed…that image was quickly destroyed by the reality of what would actually occur – a Three Stooges kind of exit, likely resulting in me tripping over his feet and sprawling in the aisle. While I contemplated this, I looked for any sign of the stewards starting their beverage service, hoping to use it as my escape; surely, the snoring man in the aisle would wake for coffee and a snack.
I sat back and stared out the window at blue sky and white fluffy clouds – there was nothing to distract my attention from my discomfort. I shrunk down in my seat and raised my arms trying to relieve my stiff back. I attempted to stand, only to be bumped back by the tilted seatback in front of me. I pulled an airline magazine from the seat pocket and flipped through the pages, looking for any enticing article to take my mind off my stiff body; a page advertising seated exercises caught my attention. I started with the toe lift, to stretch the calves, and moved onto lifting the knees to my chest. I kicked the seat in front of me a couple of times and cringed, hoping I had not disturbed yet another napping passenger. I stole a quick look to my left – the sleeper had his head back, his tongue lolling out like a dog while he snored…I wiggled and squirmed, thinking I wouldn’t be able to take this much longer; I needed to get up…I stood again, determined to climb over him, and then, to my joy, I heard the rattle of the beverage trolley coming up the aisle.