IF THE ARSEHOLE IN SEAT G knew how many men I’d killed, he’d keep his knee and elbow to himself. Wedged against the window, I spend my transatlantic flight avoiding his attempts at conversation, and reinventing myself. No longer an It Girl aristocrat gone bad, I’m Sally Miller now, a former model and wannabe actress taking a year to travel and maybe find some meaning in her life.
I don’t need much from Philadelphia and the view as we descend says that’s all I’m going to get, but this was my best option flying out of Spain. Nine hours in the air from Barcelona. No changes. No stops. A city I’ve never been. At least it’s a bright and sunny afternoon.
The arsehole in seat G is in no rush to disembark and no mind to concede an inch to me. Squeezing past his knees and feet, I wish for a gun or knife, or even a pair of heels. Sally wishes she could have flown Business Class.
I’m wearing tattered Converse and someone else’s clothes – short denim shorts and a dusted pink baby tee with a Hello Kitty motif – topped by a vintage soccer hoodie I picked up at the airport while I was waiting to board my flight. Blue and scarlet will never be my colors but I wasn’t spoiled for choice and it does everything I could ask. It’s thick and warm, the hood hides my face, and there are three zipped pockets. I have Sally’s passport, her driving license, and five thousand dollars in one. Twenty five hundred in each of the other two.
“Welcome to the United States, Miss Miller.”
The smile on the little man’s face is infectious and sincere. I really am welcome here and, his grin implies, I should be pleased to hear it. In the circs I am. “Thank you, sir. I’m very glad to be here.”
With no baggage to retrieve, I make it to the taxi rank in near record time.
“Where to, hun?” My driver is a thirty-something red-headed woman with a smile at least as wide as the ocean I’ve crossed. Her license is displayed for the benefit of passengers. Her name is Gennifer Morton-Smith, and her picture is smiling too.
“Can you take me to Wilmington, please?”
“Sure. No problem.”
I spread out across the back seat, savoring the space, and the airport disappears into the distance as Gennifer and I hurry south. I decide to push my luck. “Excuse me?”
“Do you have a phone I can borrow, please, one with internet?”
Where has her generous smile gone? She scowls at me in the mirror. Her eyebrows pinch until they almost meet. The name of this emotion is distrust.
“I can pay,” I say. “I need to do some research.”
“I don’t have a smartphone,” she tells me. “Never saw the need. But what do you want to know? If it’s in Wilmington, chances are I can help.”
We talk and, sure enough, Gennifer has all the answers. She drops me on the far side of the city at the Christiana Mall. “I promise you, hun, this is the place for you.”
I tip her well and she hands me her business card, “Just in case you need another ride.”