The seat belt sign comes on. It is 37 minutes past six. February 15th. This watch doesn't tell me the year but if I were to guess, feeling my hands, seeing the wrinkles in my wrists, I am older now. 45. 54. 46. I am landing into your city. I don't know now whether you exist. Whether you are here. Whether there is even a you to think of within the confines of the city. Whether too, you will know anything of me. Whether you have forgotten me.
The turbulence finally hits. I close my eyes. The pilots didn’t announce this. The plane shakes in the tides of the oceans. Waves crashing violently, bucketed by colossal freezing winds. Propellers churn against nature’s whims. I choke back the bile. The rising lack of courage. My hands grip onto the hand rests. I feel the body next to me wince. My arm brushing against his wrist. There’s the memory of Coronavirus in all of us. My neighbors don’t care about the science of what we’ve all committed to crossing the Atlantic. A metal tube with paper wings careering against the sky whilst gravity demands the reclamation of our bodies. I can feel every part of me turn chicken, goose bumped, cold and clammy. Then the first dip hits. I feel my whole body seize.
It always happens like this. I’m the only one on the plane that notices it. Always the first to feel it. But knowledge doesn’t protect me. I wish I could be so naive. To watch peacefully the TV screens. But the plane keeps on shaking. Then takes another dip. The flights flicker. The in-flight movies stay consistent. People are happy if they can keep on watching. If their entertainment keeps them entertained and unaware of the dangers of what we’re doing. The screams only begin when they flicker. When they too turn to darkness.
I count down from 60. I breathe in. I try to settle the plane with my will. Try to create a forcefield around it with my intentions. But physics aren’t dispelled with positive energy. The plane keeps hurtling through the sky. We are lost at sea. The waves turn increasingly violent. The pilots stays silent. We don’t find any peace. I can hear the murders about to be committed. Gravity is hungry for bone and hair and skin. I’ve reached 41 in my personal countdown. I never reach the bottom.
I can feel every inch of the plane. How the bow reacts to the winds differently to the tail. How each of the wings move independently. I remind myself they are so flexible that they can bend to touch each other at the tip. It doesn’t provide me any comfort. I don’t want flexibility in my wings. I want security. I feel like I can’t breathe. Soon I won’t be.
The plane dips again. Then plummets. The TV screens flicker. The first screams begin. I sense the screw finally escapes the noose of its fitting in the starboard wing. It descends quickly into the speeding teeth of the plane’s third engine. The machine spits up its internal organs, disintegrating its metal limbs. In an instant it has destroyed any resemblance of what it had once been. Sparks fly down the fuel line. The wing evaporates. The cabin tears apart. Pressure evaporates. Seats are ripped out so quickly there hasn't been time to blink. I close my eyes, cover my head, and speak.
“This isn’t happening”.
Above me I say it outloud too. I can feel myself mouth the words. Feel my teeth click. Bite down on my skin. But I can’t wake up from this.
I plummet into the atmosphere. Trapped underneath. My seat buckets but stays fixed. I’m thrashed towards the lack of oxygen. The pressures of the outside screaming at me. The pressures in my skull exploding. Everyone is screaming but there is no sound. The man next to me has passed out from the panic. His TV screen keeps playing the Lion King. Naivety is the kindest thing.
The next wave hits me quickly. I vomit into a future I cannot place. A time that does not tell me where I am. Where you live. These nightmares are always so real. There is so much blood inside of my body. My eyes are so wide. My lungs so narrowly searching for oxygen. I try to breathe. Try to find safety. The oxygen mask seems so futile. But I wrap it around me like a life jacket, trying to prolong the seconds I have left before gravity comes for us. Comes for me. But there is nothing in the mask. There is no saving to be done here. The plane has reached a vertical velocity that will never become horizontal. We fall for a minute. Longer. I try to breathe. I’ve reached 14 in the countdown. There is oxygen. We have equalised pressure. I make a prayer to the God I don’t believe in. I ask for forgiveness. I find my phone and write I love you into a message. I press send hoping that the sim card won’t be obliterated with me. 5, 4, 3. The plane begins to make a new sound. As if its echo is rebounding against the oncoming planet. The earth reaching up for it. 2. I close my eyes and wait for the impact that I know won’t hurt me but will destroy me. I take one last gulp of air. We collide with gravity.
It wins. It always does.
It wins. It always does.
My eyes open. It’s 47 minutes past six. April 17th. You shift in your sleep. Your arm comes over me. Your alarm will go off shortly. I huddle my body around yours for warmth. For love. For sleep. It takes me a moment to realize that it was all a dream. One day it won’t be. I've seen it too many times for it not to be real. I try to close my eyes. I try to sleep. I try not to dream of it again. It's trying being me.