Posts Tagged plane

Excerpt 151

Her legs weakened.  The line was long and the people seemed to be closing in on her, threatening to swallow her up. She tried to fan herself with her ticket, but the paper was too flimsy to have any affect.

The line seemed to be stopped and she couldn’t see far ahead enough to tell what the hold up was.  Her stomach twisted and she felt light-headed. She should have eaten. The tea was not enough. Between the flight, the letter and the farewell from Danno, she was ready to pass out. She put her hand on the man’s back in front of her, trying to steady herself.  He turned around and gave her a dirty look. His wife began yelling at her in another language.  People turned and stared.

“I’m sorry,” she said, but the woman continued to yell, getting closer to her face. Ala could smell remnants of meat on her breath. Ala’s eyes watered as she felt the fullness make it’s way up her throat.  With chipmunk cheeks, she ran out of the line down the hall in the direction she remembered the restroom to be.

There was still a line outside of the ladies room, so she ran into the men’s room and vomited, missing the stall by three feet.  She got down on all fours and closed her eyes. She needed to lie down. She needed to eat. She needed someone to tell her that she could make it through the flight if she just stood up, rinsed out her mouth and boarded.

She stared at the puddle. Because she was so hungry, it was mostly frothy bile.  She carefully rose to her feet and grabbed a stack of paper towels.  She threw them onto the mess and tried to wipe up as much as she could with her foot.  The nausea returned and she lied down on her stomach, letting her face rest on the freezing tile.

Her phone rang, and very slowly, she sat up and took it out of her bag.  It was Jase calling. She chose to ignore him.  Once again she stood up and kicked the soggy paper towels into the corner.  She had to get to her seat as quickly as possible.  She could relax then, and possibly even get some sleep.

Leaving the restroom, she realized that she had left her suitcase at the gate. This panic brought her to a jog even though she still felt like crawling.  The boarding area was empty. She read the monitor to make sure she was in the right place for the flight.  Her suitcase was gone. She looked under the row of seats . She went to the personnel desk, but no one was there to help.

It appeared that she had missed last call for boarding the plane.  There would have been announcements, but she wouldn’t have been able to hear them while vomiting. She had gotten to the gate as quickly as possible.  She would have to find Danno and see if there was a way she could switch to his flight instead.  She would also need to report her missing suitcase. She tried to remember if anything valuable was packed inside.

All she could think of was a brooch her mother had given her when she was seven years old.  They were Christmas shopping in the city in the middle of a blizzard.  The lady who helped Ala’s mother take care of her was supposed to go with to carry bags, but had gotten the flu.  It was a very special day for Ala. She and her mother had lunch in the tearoom and she was permitted to order off of the full menu, rather than the children’s portion.  They had bought presents for relatives who would be coming in for the holiday, back when Ala’s mother still invited people to come stay.

They hurried through the street, struggling to grip the bags blowing all in directions and made it to the revolving door of the grand department store. This was their last stop of the day. They both laughed with relief as soon as the warm air hit their faces with the rich new perfumes of the season surrounding them, and stepped onto the escalator.

Ala’s mother tried to untangle her purse strap from the cluster of bag handles, when the brooch on her coat fell off. Ala knew this was a gift from her grandmother and followed it with her eyes as it fell against the slatted step.

Ala looked up and saw the steps being swallowed, one by one, as they reached the top. She quickly crouched down to grab the brooch before it fell through the grate. Her small fingers gripped the gilded edge of the large pearl encrusted plate just as her mother turned to see what she was doing.

“Ala! Are you crazy?” Her mother yelled, grabbing the arm of Ala’s coat and yanking her up and off of the last step. She shook her shoulders hard.  “Do you want to get your hand cut off?”  Ala had no idea the escalator was dangerous.  She held out her hand to reveal the brooch, which had pierced and was stuck in the palm of her hand.

“I wanted to save it for you,” she whispered, now embarrassed at the few shoppers watching them.

“That?” her mother scoffed, “Keep it. It’s fake. Come on!”

Ala didn’t realize her mother had meant that the large pearl in the center was not an actual pearl, but painted plastic. She had thought it was the most beautiful piece of jewelry she had ever seen and loved it because her grandmother had loved it. She swallowed hard to avoid crying and pulled the needle from her hand. She followed her mother into housewares, shoving the brooch into her pocket.

She found a seat facing the wall of windows, and slouched down, watching the planes take off. Now the brooch was with whoever stole her suitcase. Even if she reported it missing, she knew she wouldn’t get it back.  She felt violated at the thought of someone looking through her underwear.

The plane she was supposed to be on backed out and taxied down the tarmac.  Ala opened her purse to make sure that her passport, license and the check from Emmanuel were still inside.  It would be inconceivably difficult to leave the airport, had her identification been in her suitcase.

A woman screamed, throwing her hands to her mouth and pointing to the window. Ala whipped her head around to see the fluffy clouds of black smoke floating up from the bright orange flames shooting out under the right wing of the plane.  She stood up slowly and pressed her face against the glass.

An emergency chute sprung out and one by one, like wind up toy soldiers, tiny figures slid down and ran. There was a loud pop and people gathered around her at the window in time to see the large fire cloud engulf the plane, flames snaking both wings and all sides. Banging on the glass and screaming continued as Ala squinted ahead, trying to make sense of what was happening. Fire engines and squad cars surrounded the dying star, and the few who had escaped huddled together.

Running commenced with people going in all directions, crashing into one another.  She didn’t know what to do or who to call. She would’ve been dead had she made it on in time. At least she had been with him one last time. She heard people shouting and shoes squeaking, babies crying and whistles blowing.  She could smell smoke and wasn’t sure if it was from the cigarette she had or the world ending outside.

Danger had followed her.  She wasn’t safe being who she was. Her phone rang.  She took it out of her bag and, without looking to see who was calling, tossed it in the trashcan, along with her ticket.  She put her sunglasses on and looking straight ahead, walked quickly toward the exit of the airport.



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Excerpt 148

Ala awoke with Danno sleeping with his head on her shoulder.  They had landed in Seoul safely.  Her head was tender from the stress of the turbulence and the sleep she managed to get was not restful. She unbuckled her seat belt and gently climbed over Danno’s seat.  Her legs nearly gave out when her feet hit the floor and she headed toward the restroom.

“Ms., please sit down,” the weary stewardess said slouched in the seat she was still strapped into. Her jacket was off and her eye makeup was smudged.

“I really need to stretch. How much longer until we’re off the plane?” Ala said.

“A few more minutes, when we get word from the captain.”

“We’re on the ground.  I don’t understand the hold up,”

Danno woke up and immediately registered the exchange going on between them.  He got up and took Ala’s hand.

“Let’s just sit down,” he whispered.

“Stop acting like I am crazy.  I have every right to stand up after a whole day on this plane.”

“I know. We’re almost done. Let’s sit.”

She let him pull her back to their seats.  He took her hand into his hands.

“We made it through the plane almost crashing. The last thing we need is for you to be detained in South Korea for mouthing off to a flight attendant.” He kissed her.

She took a compact out of her purse and ran her fingers through her hair, which looked better after she had slept on it. She turned on her phone, even though she knew the staff would take issue with this if they saw her.  She had missed eleven phone calls during the flight and could see the most recent three were from Jase.  Her face grew hot and she leaned forward, afraid she was going to be sick.

“Ala,” Danno rubbed her back. “We can get off now.  Are you okay?”

She nodded and made sure she had all of her things. Their luggage was still in tact there a sense of relief among the passengers that the flight had come to an end without the use of an emergency slide Some of them even thanked the stewardesses while leaving the plane.  Ala walk straight past them without making eye contact.

The waiting area was very hot.  The smell of people who had been on planes and in airports for multiple days overwhelmed her. She and Danno held hands tightly and squeezed through the crowd.

“Are you hungry?” He asked.

“No, I’m fine.”

“Let’s go the lounge, so I can have a cigarette.”

She wondered how soon into their relationship she could mention that his smoking bothered her. It added to his sex appeal, but now she was concerned about both of them being alive and healthy for years to come.

Danno took out his membership card and showed it to the pretty hostess who was wearing a sea green kimono.  They took two armchairs away from everyone else and ordered some tea. He lit a cigarette and, leaning back in his chair, winked at her.

“Do you think anyone else has had a crazier time than we have?”

What she had learned for sure this summer was that there were crazy people everywhere and that there was no reason to believe that she, or anyone else, was ever safe.

“I’m going to make a phone call,” she said, walking to the window that overlooked the tarmac. She didn’t know what time it was back home, but knew that Jase wouldn’t care when she called even if it was the middle of the night. The phone only rang once.

“Ala?” His voice was badly broken like he had been walking through a blizzard with bronchitis. She knew he had been up drinking.

“Hi. Did I wake you?”

“No, I’ve been up. Where are you?” He said with urgency in his voice.

She bit the side of her cheek.  She always got really honest when she felt like he needed her help.

“Jase, what happened?”

“My mom died.”

She pushed the phone against her ear, picturing Abigail’s face.

“I’m so sorry.”

“She was alone. I don’t know how, but she was all alone when the hospital called. My idiot brother.”

“Oh Jase, I-” She felt her throat constricting, trying to hold back tears.

“Can you come home? Or here? I need you.”

She looked back at Danno who was also on a call. Panic flowed through her aching legs. They were not together anymore, but she knew this day would come and couldn’t imagine not being there.

“I can’t come right now. I’m sorry.”

“Tomorrow then? Please Ala, I’ll never ask you for anything again.”

“I don’t think so, Jase.”

“Where are you that’s so Goddamn important?” He yelled. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry. Look just please; let me get you a ticket. We can talk when you get here.”

She shook her head.

“I just can’t.”

“I’m always going to be waiting for you,” he said starting to cry. She hung up the phone.

She walked back to Danno, wiping both eyes with her fingers, as he was putting his phone away.

“I love you,” she said, sitting on his lap.

“Are you crying?”

“I just love you.”

“I love you,” he said, pulling her mouth to his mouth. “You’re going to have to board soon. Finish your tea. I’m going to use the restroom and then I’ll walk you to the gate.”

She took her seat and made herself take a sip of tea. It burned her mouth.  She took a cigarette from the pack on the coffee table and lit it.  She inhaled and the smoke seemed to make tiny hatch marks down the back of her throat.  She coughed violently.  Several people dressed in suits looked over at her.  She took another puff and eased back into the chair.

It wasn’t possible to go back for Abigail’s funeral. There would be too much pain and too many people who had known her as someone else. She would be uncomfortable the entire time and Jase would lean on her for more support than she could give. Years later, she could imagine feeling like a heartless person, and if that happened, she would apologize then.

She opened her bag and put her phone away. Emmanuel’s letter was crumpled toward the bottom. She smoothed the pages out on her lap and a smaller slip of paper flittered to the ground. It was a check for ten thousand dollars. She folded it in half and shoved it into her wallet.

She stubbed out her cigarette and continued to read.

“…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 the current company you keep, specifically Danno. As someone who has known his character well for years, I feel it is my duty to warn you that you are in danger.”

Sweat spiked up on the back of her neck. She wanted to reread, but had to keep going.

“When I hired Bruno ten years ago, I thought he was a lowly gardener who hadn’t had much luck. Being from my native land, I trusted him without any idea that he was acting as Danno’s informant. I am not going to delve into the kind of business we do, since I have a feeling that in your current situation, time is precious. I can only say that my fortune is spoken of often in my industry’s circles and that the two of them have been working for quite some time to drain my assets.

Apparently Danno and Bruno’s relationship has gone south, and Bruno was not paid what was promised to him. This is where you came in. There aren’t any known people or things in this world that would affect Danno’s decisions, but you apparently have done so. This is not something to be proud of. I am only relieved that you had enough fight in you to stay alive.

Please do whatever you have to and get away from this man. Even if he doesn’t kill you himself, his line of work will. You will have no way of reaching me once I send this letter. I hope that for you and your parent’s sake, you leave this unsavory character’s side and find safety.

Best regards,






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Excerpt 147

Dear Ala,

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.”

“What’s Blondie?”

“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.”




“Ice cream.”

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.






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