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The Soprano

"Unpleasant Flight"

The long and tiring flight took its toll on me, and it was noticeable especially with my aching back. But when I arrived to the Munich airport, I felt the strong urge of vomiting, especially since I hadn’t eaten anything they offered on the flight.
I never liked airline food because they always had that cardboard box taste and it was something that I couldn’t swallow without gagging first.
Luckily, the Munich airport had fast food restaurants and such—though not my best choice, it was better than nothing at all.

I sat at a table and ate my chicken wrap, wondering how long my next flight to Graz was going to take? I’ve never been to Austria before, let alone Germany. It was a first for me and though I loved the German language, I didn’t know anything about it. I only knew how to pronounce some of their words because of my experience in singing German art songs; I was just familiar with some of their words, not all.

I was informed that my next flight from Munich to Graz would take about an hour, which wasn’t so bad considering that I had already withstanded twelve hours. I called my agent to let him know of my current status and before I knew it, it was already time to leave.

I boarded the small jet that would take the passengers to Graz. My seat was not only the dreaded window seat but I was also located beside the emergency exit of the aircraft. Oh joy, I get to sit in my least favorite part of a plane. The stewardess then informed me of the procedures that I had to follow in case of an emergency. I was never the heroic type--but I'm not a coward.

As I sat down uncomfortably, a beautiful young woman, fair, blue eyed and blonde, sat next to me. She looked modest, but her beauty was something else. She looked at me and smiled, “You are American, yes?” she asked with a Russian accent. I looked at her and smiled, “Yes, I am.” She took out her hand to me and we shook hands, “My name is Zdenka, I’m from Russia, it is nice to meet you.” “My name is Juliana, likewise.”

She pulled her hand back and began to buckle her seat belt, and I watched her graceful movements. She looked like a doll, a porcelain doll as her golden locks fell to her face; I mentally scolded myself for probably looking like an idiot staring at something that I thought was amazing.

She stopped and continued, “What brings you Graz?” she asked. “Business, I’ve got an audition to attend.” I said. She smiled, “An audition for a movie?” I shook my head, “No, an audition for an opera. I sing.” She clapped her hands together, “You sing in opera? That is wonderful! What voice do you have?” she was eager to know. “I’m a soprano.” I replied. “Oh! A soprano! You must have a very lovely voice.” She said as a stewardess stopped by, “I’d like to think so.” I replied flatly hoping that this conversation would end here; I'm not the kind to keep feeding a conversation--especially to a stranger I've just met; on a plane no less.

“Water or fountain drink?” asked the stewardess, Zdenka replied “Fountain drink please.” Then the stewardess looked at me with the same question, “Water for me please.” I said. As she served our drinks, I could feel Zdenka’s anxiousness to learn more about her American plane-buddy. I wasn’t as willing, but I didn’t want to be rude, after all, she wasn’t the cause of my dismay. I didn't ask what brought her to Graz, but she decided to tell me anyway “I’ve come because I’m going to marry the love of my life.” I looked at her questioningly. “You have a fiancée waiting for you?” I asked, sounding rather rude. She didn't catch up on my slightly rude tone, she smiled and nodded, “Yes, we’ve been chatting for over three months now, and he proposed to me!” she said happily.

Romance had blinded her reasoning, how could she be so sure that this wasn't a trick? There have been many cases of kidnapping through the internet chatting services; men promising young women marriage but then it was all a lie to get them to visit their country. Then, the unthinkable would happen; they would disappear, without a trace.

This alarmed me, though I didn’t know her situation well enough to react the way I should, what if this were the first and last time Zdenka would see the light of day?
I was uneasy, “Pardon me Zdenka, but do you really know this man well enough to trust him?” I asked. Zdenka rolled her eyes, as if she had heard this comment before. “Yes, we’ve spoken on the phone together and we have sent each other pictures of ourselves.” She said in all confidence. Could she really be that gullible?

“How do you know that is really him? For all you know, it could be a weirdo or a psycho that's trying to take advantage of you.” I said.
She sighed annoyingly, “I’ve had this conversation before with my family. But I can see now that there is no one that can understand my feelings for this man.” She sighed frustratingly.

“Zdenka, this could be a very dangerous game you’re playing. You don’t really know this man and you can’t believe everything you see on the internet.” I said worriedly. Zdenka just looked at me, upset, “I believe this conversation is over.” And with that she reached into her purse and pulled out an ipod. She put on her bud earphones and just ignored me and everything around her throughout the rest of the flight.

Although I felt rather relieved that I was finally able to enjoy silence; my mind couldn't help but come up with many troubling questions.
Was I sitting next to someone who was about to be kidnapped? Was I ever going to see Zdenka again after this? I hoped and prayed that I would, that this was just all me overreacting to tragic events that I had overheard on the news. Maybe Zdenka was right and maybe I owed her an apology. I didn’t know her that well to consider her a friend, but that gave me no right to be rude to a welcoming stranger.

An hour passed and she hadn’t spoken a word to me. But when the plane landed, I had to do what I had to do. As she got up to reach over for her things, I tapped her arm lightly. She looked at me confusedly, “I’m sorry for my behavior earlier.” I said “The decisions you make have nothing to do with me, and I was out of line to criticize your judgement; I hope you and your fiancée live a happy life together.”

Zdenka instantly smiled and hugged me without warning, “Thank you for understanding.” I was taken aback, but I gradually relaxed and smiled as I returned her kindness.
When a small trolley that transported the passengers to the airport arrived; Zdenka and I parted ways. I watched Zdenka patiently waiting for another trolley through my window as I was driven away to the airport. It was plain and simple, Zdenka was a hopeless romantic and she was desperate to find that special someone with whom she could spend the rest of her life with. And now that she had found that certain person, she's determined to go through with it all the way without having anybody standing in her way.

I remembered when I was like that too when I met Michael. At first glance, without questioning myself, I knew that he was the man with whom I would spend the rest of my life. This was a bitter sweet moment for me as I began to dwell further in my sadness.
It wasn't long until I felt the trolley stop in front of a small airport. I have arrived to Graz.

I looked around to see if I could find the chauffer that Jacob had told me about. And there he was, a man who held my full name on a cardboard; displaying it high up for everyone to see. I sighed feeling rather relieved to be one step away from a comfortable bed. I walked towards him and he politely smiled “You are Juliana Stern?” he asked and I flinched when he mentioned my last name. I was no longer Mrs. Stern, just Juliana Wright. But he needn’t know of my struggle, so why correct him? I had decided to keep my husband’s last name as my performer name.