A rush of clicks arose from the keyboard of Henry’s laptop. Sam took another bite of the leftover Filipino grilled chicken he’d brought for lunch and smiled as he caught a glimpse of Henry in his peripheral vision, leaning back in the spare chair he kept in his office, feet up on the low credenza, carefully avoiding the surfeit of potted plants littering the top.
“The flight on the third looks good to me,” Henry said. “Takes off at five thirty-seven in the evening. Thirteen hours, but I can sleep through it, right? There’s a one hour stop in LA, but I won’t have to change planes.”
Sam looked up from his lunch and blinked. He hated even thinking about their upcoming separation. But this wouldn’t be the first time, nor would it be the last. “Yeah, that’s best for a long flight like that. Overnight.” He pointed with his fork toward the plate on the desk in front of him. The chicken had been a big hit at Sam’s family’s pot luck the previous night. Henry’s cooking was one of the many things he was going to miss while Henry was in Fiji. “this is even amazing left over, Henry. What are the flavors?”
“It’s an adobo marinade. The chicken soaked in it overnight. Coconut vinegar, lemon juice, soy sauce, garlic, peppercorns.”
Sam’s brow creased. “That’s it? I’m tasting something else.”
“Bay leaves, anise pods?”
“Ah.” Sam nodded and rolled his chair to look over Henry’s shoulder at the screen.
A timid knock on the office door jamb accompanied by a nervous-sounding “Dr. Miller-Green?” interrupted Sam before he could look over Henry’s flight info.
They both looked up at the student.
“Oh, uh, that one,” the man said, inclining his head toward Sam.
Sam smiled, relaxing the young student. “What can I do for you, Brandon?”
“I was wondering about the test tomorrow.”
Sam waited in silence, his eyebrows raised inquiringly.
“Uh, what’s it covering?”
“Everything in unit fourteen is fair game.” Did students really think their teachers would give them specifics of what would be on a test beyond what had been reviewed in class if only they’d come ask privately? Whatever they figured the odds were, it didn’t stop them from trying.
The kid sighed but forged on. “How long is it going to be?”
Sam picked up a random sheet of paper from his desk and, with his lips pursed to the side, looked at it as if he was critically analyzing the it. Then he took a page out of his dad’s playbook. “I’d say it’s about eleven inches long,” he deadpanned.
Brandon huffed and rolled his eyes. Not that Sam blamed him. It’s how he’d often reacted to “dad jokes” that he’d been the butt of over the course of his childhood. He rather enjoyed being the one delivering the bad jest rather than being the victim of it.
Still…Sam relented a little. “Same as always, Brandon. Some of you will finish with time to spare, and some of you will still be writing furiously when the bell rings. Just know the material in unit fourteen, and you’ll do fine. Do you have any specific questions about something in the unit you don’t understand?”
Brandon shook his head in defeat. “No, I guess not. I should just go study it all, huh?”
That’s what I recommend.”
The student turned and they listened to his footsteps retreat down the hallway. Sam once again peered over Henry’s shoulder. “Have you made your seat selection?”
“Just about to.”
“Are there any exit row seats left?”
Henry’s brief smile didn’t go unnoticed. Sam’s face heated, but knowledge that Henry was amused by his phobia didn’t make it go away.
“Not available,” Henry said. “I could sit toward the front for a faster exit when we land.”
Right. Or a faster death if the plane went down. “No, look.” Sam pointed at the wing area on the seating chart. “There’s an aisle seat right behind the exit row. How about that one?”
“Okay.” Henry surrendered without a fight. He always did in the end. Sweetheart that he was, he didn’t really even push much with teasing about it. Henry clicked on the seat icon and finalized the purchase, then sat back and gazed lovingly into Sam’s eyes. He didn’t say anything for several moments, then shivered before casting a grin at Sam. “I love you,” he simply said.
A slow, mellow smile curved across Sam’s mouth. “I love you, too.”