Please read this letter in its entirety. While I know your instinct may be to tear it up, or act as if you’ve never received it, please work against it. It is imperative you know that I am not writing to you out of anger for what may or may not have happened. I am still out of the country and, while I have received disturbing news about my property being disrupted, I am a firm believer in assessing a claim before reacting. This only has to do with…
Her seat seemed to slump and began to shake suddenly. Danno woke up and took her hand. Their tray tables rattled, spilling her ginger ale on her legs, and the seat belt lights blinked incessantly. The stewardess wobbled toward the front of the aisle and picked up the intercom speaker.
First she spoke in Korean and then, Ala assumed, repeated, “Please everyone take your seats and fasten your seat belts. We are experiencing some turbulence and at the captain’s request, please remain in your seats.”
Ala had acquired the bad habit of never wearing her seat belt on flights. She reached down to find the buckle and the plane shifted again, slamming her forehead against the tray table.
“Oh no, here sit back, let me see,” Danno said, rubbing the spot on her forehead that she knew would later erupt into a bump.
The vibration grew quicker and the stewardesses strapped themselves into the seats parallel to the rows in the front of the cabin. Ala shoved the letter into her purse and zipped it, making sure all of the compartments were closed. Her legs shook as she felt her stomach drop, as the plane seemed to turn in the opposite direction.
The intercom came on again and a man’s voice took over. He spoke Korean in a calming tone, but Ala could tell there was vomit rising in the back of his throat he was trying to keep down. The speaker cut out before her could repeat himself in English.
A drink cart came crashing down the aisle, slamming into a man’s elbow. He screamed.
“Put the Goddamn brake on that cart!” He yelled. A stewardess unstrapped herself from her seat and ran over. Grabbing the cart handles, she struggled to push it forward. The man got out of his seat to help her.
“I’m sorry Sir. The brake was on.”
An alarm went off and the tension among the few passengers flourished, as the air seemed to tighten around them. Ala pictured them plunging into the black water and being ripped apart by whatever unseen beings they would disturb. She felt up and down her seat, trying to find the flotation device. Danno took her hand.
“Calm down. The plane isn’t going down. It’s a storm.” He pointed to the droplets covering her window. “Don’t waste your energy being hysterical.”
“But it might go down. Everyone is scared,” she said.
“Come here,” he said, wrapping his arm around her. He pulled the blanket up over both of their legs and put his neck pillow behind her back. Even with the awkward armrest jutting into her ribs, she began to feel better.
“Apple,” he whispered.
She looked at him.
“What are you doing?”
“Now you say a food that begins with the letter “B”.” The stewardess reached into the drink cart and pulled out a few ice cubes. She wrapped them in a napkin and handed them to the man to hold against his elbow. The lights flickered in the cabin. Ala tried to hold in her urine. “Come on,” he said.
“Bologni,” she said. He nodded.
“Chicken Cordon Bleu. That’s two points for me.”
“Why is that?”
“Because I used the letter “c” twice.”
“Fine. Dagwood Sandwich,” she said.
“What is that?”
“You know, from Blondie. The sandwich that looks like it’s twelve layers of meat and cheese.”
“The comic book? The sandwich enthusiast. My father and I used to read them on weekends.”
Her eyes filled with tears. She had avoided her parents and now was going to drown in the dark before ever seeing them again. The pressure around her heart made her nervous to move any part of her body.
“Fine, the point is yours under the condition that this so called sandwich has been attempted by someone other than a fictional character. Éclair.”
An overhead bin opened, tossing a trunk out that burst open when it hit the floor. A lady screamed and made the sign of the cross against her chest. Ala closed her eyes.
“Hardly a food, but fine.”
“You’re sort of a pain in the ass with this game.”
“I just play fair,” he said, rubbing the palm of her hand. “Kale.”
The plane veered sharply and straightened out. The alarm stopped pulsing and the lights stabilized. Ala was sure they had crashed and that she was watching the scene while dead. The stewardess tried to adjust her cap and walked back to the intercom.
“It seems that we are through the turbulent portion of our flight. The captain asks that you please remain in your seats with your seat belts fastened. We will come through with beverages offerings once we receive clearance.”
“We’re okay,” he said. “And I’m pretty sure I won.”
Ala pinched his forearm and then rested her head against his chest. She drifted off just as the sun cut through the black sky.