Indigo NightsBy: Louise Bay
“Glass of champagne, miss?” a blonde flight attendant asked.
Once, it had been my drug of choice. There was nothing I didn’t like about it. Everything from the cold, heavy bottle, to the gold foil wrapping at the top that made it seem like a present, to that beautiful sound of the air escaping when the cork was released. A maiden’s sigh, it was called. I hated the sound of a pop; it was brash and hard and didn’t do champagne justice. It wasn’t seductive or subtle enough. No, I longed for that gentle hiss that promised inevitable pleasure.
But not anymore.
“No thank you,” I replied. Two years ago, it would have been hard to say no. Three, almost impossible. But I was used to turning down alcohol now, and every time I did a buzz of pride flitted about under my skin. But that didn’t stop me from remembering how good it felt from the moment it came out of the refrigerator until the end of my first glass. If I could have stopped there, that would have been great. Problem was, as soon as I had my first taste, I was greedy for the bottle, desperate to open a second. I had no control. Champagne was like a bad boyfriend (and I’d had plenty to enable me to testify). It reeled me in, promised the world and then left me vulnerable, alone, covered in regret and pain, and with a hangover the size of Africa.
In the words of Taylor Swift, champagne and I were never, ever getting back together.
“Has he definitely checked in?” the blonde flight attendant said to a shorter, brown-haired girl pouring chips into small bowls lined up on the bar.
“Yes, he’s in 8A.” They both glanced in my direction. I was in 9A. It sounded like they were expecting a celebrity.
The seats in first class on this carrier were arranged differently from most airlines. Instead of arranged in pairs, there were four long rows of seats all next to each other but at a diagonal, going end to end in the cabin. Each seat had high sides to form private space. That was why I liked flying with this carrier, especially when on my own. I wouldn’t have to make polite conversation with the complete stranger next to me. I liked to disappear into my own world of recipes and baking when I travelled. I pulled out my notebook and clipped my seatbelt shut.
A male flight attendant I recognized—I flew the route from Chicago to London regularly—joined the pair and started to put ice into a tumbler. “Is he here yet?”
“No,” the brunette said. “He’s usually one of the last to board. Can one of you take these chips? If he arrives and I’m walking, I’m likely to fall over.”
“He’s the kind of man that would spank you to teach you a lesson,” the male flight attendant said.
I didn’t catch the rest as they giggled conspiratorially. What did such a man look like?
Whoever Mr. 8A was, he was important if he managed to get the crew in such a fluster. They were used to flying with the rich and famous—airport lounges and airplanes were fertile ground for celebrity spotting. I’d seen Eva Longoria the last time I flew to New York. So tiny, but so pretty.
The blonde took the tray of snacks and began what would be one of many trips up and down the first-class rows.
I started to read through the last things I’d written in my notebook, trying to drown out the clatter of the bar. I’d been working on a ginger and cranberry cake. I liked the spicy, sweet and sour mixed together, but there was something missing.
Baking had become my salvation during my battle for sobriety. It had given me something to do, some structure to my day and a focus that had turned into a passion.
I’d started with brownies because my brother loved them and it was a small way to tell him how much I appreciated his never-failing support. I used to slip them into his lunch for work. I moved on to lemon bars and then worked my way through every type of pie ever invented and some that never should have been. Before long, I was baking every day.