But that first phrase - "an early plane" - isn't quite an accurate one. We were on two planes - Alice had airmiles on a CO flight, and I had a much cheaper (and airmile-earning) flight on AA. At LAX, on our cellphones, we raised cups of coffee to each other, in our separate terminals, vowing - despite the financial practicalities of the above arrangement - not to take separate flights in future. Nonetheless, we thought we had synchronicity - we were due to arrive at EWR within a quarter of an hour of each other.
Alice, however, is still in LA. I turned on my phone to a barrage of increasingly anxious emails from a plane that needed repairing, was unloaded, loaded up again, passengers again taken off - so tomorrow morning, again at 5 a.m., she will be up to the light of these very same lanterns, re-smelling the hedge, and trying again.