Michael enjoyed with great reserve the perfect red of the airplane's house cranberry juice cocktail. In all of his life, only maraschino had come close. Those precious cherries hidden in the back of the refrigrator, cherished by his parents for the 2 parties they threw every year were the reason for his love of red. It was a lushly sweet forbidden red whose consumption bode danger. It was the color of his fingerpaint masterpieces above the fireplace. When he had declared, at the age of four, his love for the magic color, his parents declared him special. Red was the color of daring, and his admiration for it was whole, in that way that children gain a sense of adulthood by their open devotion to something grownups respect. "And he's a Gemini", his mother would say.
Thirty seven thousand feet above the Continental Divide, he swirled the red in its transparent plastic cup; admired its refractions through the ice cubes, relished its frigid tartness on his lips. His voice wouldn't carry on planes; he often had to shout it once again to the flight attendant. "Cranberry!" as he would watch for her hands to awkwardly change direction away from the diet sodas. Cranberry was just rare enough for him to merit, on less than full flights, his own full can. And so it was, in his second career, in sales, as a frequent flyer, that Michael once again rekindled and finally indulged his passion for the color of fire. With his mouth full of icy tartness his eyes twinkled at the woman in 15C.