The next time I fly, the guy who sits next to me will have just gotten a tattoo. It’s a secret tattoo, though. He’s flying to run away from his old life, and the tattoo will be his only reminder.
But since he’s got this secret, he feels a dire need to tell someone. It’s been four days already, and he hasn’t told a soul. If he has to tell someone, it might as well be a stranger. He leans over to me and says, “Hey man, I just got a tattoo of some clouds.”
“Oh, uh, okay.” I look back at my book.
Twenty minutes later, his fidgeting starts to get more and more noticeable. Finally he leans over one more time. “It’s on my butt. The clouds are on my butt.” I pretend to be asleep.
After the flight, we go our separate ways. He begins his new life and never tells anyone about the secret tattoo.
Twenty years later, I see him walking on the street with his friends. He looks happy now. At first I’m not even sure it’s him, but there’s something about the eyes.
I walk up. “Hey man,” I say. “There’s a big red spot on Jupiter.”
“What? Do I know you?”
I don’t answer, but I have one more thing to say. “Oh, and there are clouds on Uranus.”