It seemed, until the very last moment, that the seat to my right would be empty. But eventually it was taken by a slim white man in his thirties wearing a red t-shirt. I was wearing noise cancelling headphones so I only noticed he was talking to me when he gestured at my laptop screen.

He didn’t know much about programming but had taken a course in university for easy credits. Since then, he’d finished medical school and moved out from Ontario to a small city in BC to do his residency. For a while he worked in an emergency room – that was the best way to learn. He wanted to run a family practice now though.

He was going to Quebec to visit his girlfriend, who he was probably gonna marry. They’d only been together for a couple of months, but they were on the path, he was feeling good about it. He’d met her online on a Christian dating site and just met her for the first time a month ago. It was a funny story actually, he proposed the first day they met.

He flew in to see her for the first time and she had said to him that he probably couldn’t stay quiet for even half an hour – it came up because she had just gone on a weekend silent meditation retreat and loved it – but she said he was so chatty that being quiet would be so hard for him, so he decided to pull a prank on her. When he landed, she picked him up at the airport and said hi but he didn’t say anything back, he stayed quiet because she said he probably couldn’t. He prepared a bunch of flash cards to tell her things so he wouldn’t have to talk, and it was sort of like a scavenger hunt and at the end he proposed.

She didn’t say no, she said not yet, but they were probably gonna get married. They were quite complementary – she liked reading and didn’t really like outdoor stuff, and he liked to go camping and skiing and stuff like that. He almost died actually, skiing in the backcountry. He only survived because his friend was there, he saved his life. Cracked his skull! But they were quite complementary, he didn’t wanna say that she was his ticket to sainthood, but she would purify him.

Inspiration for writing style: Norman Mailer's transparent narration in The Executioner's Song.