By Ekta R. Garg
Prompt: You are on a plane, and it’s about to crash.
After the captain made the official announcement to get into the brace position, Kyle heard a swell of crying. Wailing, in some cases. Murmurs of prayers and some prayers said loud and long for everyone to hear. One person sang Amazing Grace over and over.
After the first big jolt forward by the plane, however, the passengers had gotten quiet. No one sang or talked. The crying had ceased. Or maybe it seemed that way. The plane had begun to rattle so hard Kyle had difficulty concentrating on his own thoughts, never mind paying attention to others.
He swallowed hard.
We’re gonna die. I didn’t get to do everything I wanted to do, and now we’re—I’m—gonna die.
His heart constricted as tight as a fist and then let go of the beat. Thoughts of his parents and little brother crossed his mind. He’d texted them to say he loved them.
Calling would have been better, he knew, but he’d chickened out. Kyle knew he didn’t have the courage to listen to their voices cracking with emotion. Hearing them cry and tell him they loved him would have just reminded him about the dying part that he so wanted to ignore right now.
The lights began to flicker, and a loud metallic bang made Kyle look up for a minute. Then he put his head back down. He never imagined he’d die in a plane full of strangers.
Strangers. His mind went to the woman he’d met three days ago. They’d struck up a conversation on a plane much like this. From the plane they’d visited a bar in his hotel, then hers, and then made their way up to her room. The next morning he’d planted a kiss on her forehead and thanked her for the good time. Then he’d gotten dressed, taken an Uber to his own hotel, showered, changed, and gotten ready for the meeting.
The woman—Astrid—had texted him later that day to ask if he’d like to get together again, and he said yes. Their evening included dinner this time before hitting the bars and the hotel room, his not hers. She pecked him on the cheek and nibbled on his neck before slipping out the next morning. Her business trip had come to an end, and his would end the next day—today.
Kyle couldn’t believe it, but the plane picked up even more speed. It made his breath catch, hard, and he swallowed several times to get it back. His hands clenched the top of the seat in front of him.
That was all a mistake, he thought. But why do all these people have to pay? Oh, God, this isn’t right.
He let go of the seat and fumbled in his jacket pocket for his phone yet again. It almost fell from his fingers, slick as they were with sweat. He tightened his grip on it before he lost it.
The plane started shaking so hard his lower jaw knocked into his upper one, and he bit his tongue. The pain made him wince. He fought against the movement of the plane and brought up another blank text message.
“You deserved way better than me,” he typed with his thumbs.
The whining noise of the engine rang in his ears, inside his brain, but he managed to jab the Send icon so the text could go to his wife.
Minutes later, Kyle lost consciousness.