We’re going to die.
And I don’t mean in a one day we’re all going to die glass half-empty kind of way.
I mean in a cruising at thirty six thousand feet with no hydraulics while dumping fuel for the past three hours so we don’t explode upon impact kind of way.
We’re going to die.
‘Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain again.’ I inhale sharply, the breath not quite reaching my lungs. ‘I’m switching on the seat belt sign as we’ll be landing at London Heathrow in twenty minutes. Cabin crew, secure the cabin for arrival.’
I swallow. We all know that this is FAA code for make peace with your maker.
I don’t want to die. We haven’t even started our adventure, our new life in London. I quit my job and - oh my God - we sold our home. My soul will roam aimlessly for millennia with nowhere to go.
With shaking hands, I reach over and raise my daughter’s seat to its full and upright position. Charlotte wriggles a little, but, mercifully, settles back to sleep. Across the aisle, I take in my snoring husband, perhaps for the last time. He looks so calm, so peaceful, so misinformed.
Suddenly, the plane lurches violently, the cabin lights flickering. The air is rife with fear and muffled screams. Clearly, flying is why God created Xanax.
‘What’s going on?’ Stephen stammers, jolted awake.
‘We…we have no hydraulics and are plummeting to earth at the speed of sound!’ I struggle to hyperventilate calmly.
Stephen takes in the situation. He turns back to me and smiles. ‘We’re fine. It’s just a bit of turbulence.’
We descend at an alarming rate, the pilot struggling to retain control. I put my arm around Charlotte and clutch her to me with all that I have. She awakens with a start and cries that I’m pulling her hair. I desperately need Stephen to hold me, but he’s too far away. I force myself to look out the window and can just make out the cars on the roads.
Within seconds, we’re skimming the tops of trees, the plane rocking back and forth, the left wing significantly higher than the right.
This is it. My life doesn’t so much flash before my eyes, but runs screaming from the room, hair on fire.
Once again, I hazard a look out the window, and that’s when I see them. The flashing lights. The fire trucks. The ambulances. The first responders on high alert, waiting for the call to action the second we erupt into flames.
But wait. The scenery isn’t speeding by quite so quickly. We’re slowing down! There is no explosion, no sickening thud upon impact. Someone asks whether we’ve landed or been shot down. I laugh the laugh of the hysterical. We’re on terra firma.
We’re going to live.
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