12 D laughed. He had dropped his bite-sized melon chunk again. Next to him, 12 C, smiled in exquisitely polite amusement, picked up his own chopsticks and twirled around a plastic tea cup for good measure. "Guess it will take me a while to get the hang of this!"
In front of me, a smooth chignon head bent down to offer colouring books to a suddenly interested toddler.
I was 9C. Aisle. Belted in and alone with my thoughts.
Looking outside, I felt strangely subdued. I was in the presence of something that belittled my worries and mocked my fears. No matter what my inner turmoil, what was real - was what we were surrounded by. Intense pure light. And a canopy of comforting whiteness. This would never fundamentally change. I knew that. But never had that awareness washed over me like it did right then.
9B turned out to be an art historian. The rest of my little journey was spent in happy nothingness.