Take Off (Short Story)

Planes make me sick. The smell, the movement, the possible death. It all makes me want to puke into my politely provided barfbag.

The pudgy man crammed against my side and thigh isn’t helping. He has some kind of rot going on with his feet and feels it necessary to slip out of his shoes like this is his living room. If I had more back bone I might tell him to save me some brain cells and put his shoes back on. But I’m not that spirited. I smother my nose and point the air vent directly at my face. “Timid little pushover!” echoes through my head in my mother’s shrill voice.

I don’t let it bother me, I’d already stood up to the business man who decided he didn’t want an aisle and stole my window. I smiled smugly with that victory. There haven’t been many in my life.

That was going to change now that Mother wasn’t dictating my every move. I sigh and watch the clouds drift by, probably the only glimpse of heaven I’ll ever get. I’d never seen out a plane window before because Mother was sickened by heights. She insisted the windows be shut during the one flight we’d taken to Florida to visit Aunt Mary last year.

Mother needed to make sure she was the sole beneficiary before she slipped the extra sleeping pills into Auntie’s tea. The obituary said she passed quietly in her sleep, and it was partially true. Mother left the door open a crack, and I’d seen her as she gently pressed the pillow over Auntie’s face. Enough to stop her breathing but not enough to leave a sign of foul play. A fine line to tread.

Of course I’d trampled all over that fine line when I finally snapped. I would’ve planned and easily gotten away with it,  but she just wouldn’t shut up.

It started when I got up enough courage to go on my first date at the ripe age of thirty-two. I’m socially awkward and he subsequently didn’t call back after the dinner we shared. Naturally, I was devastated. Mother saw another crack in my self-esteem to attack. Jumping at the chance to belittle me and my life choices.

When the tea mug crashed into her face, I was as surprised as she was.  Made of tough stock, she stood and stared coldly as blood flooded down her puckered face and shrieked “Your dead to me!”

Now, I didn’t spend my whole life caring for her and being a slave, just to be cut off. I was getting it all, one way or another. I was nothing if not my mother’s daughter, so I grabbed the log poker from the fireplace and came for her. She stood her ground, “You don’t have the backbone!” she said with disgust lacing her words. So I proved her wrong. She almost made it to the phone after my first missed swing. Almost.

When it was all said and done, I’d made a royal mess of the place. There was no passing it as an accidental death.

I put Mother in the cellar and cleaned up. Next I cashed out the bank account and got into the safe deposit box at the bank. It mostly consisted of family heirlooms and cash, all my inheritance anyway. Using the internet I found how to open an untraceable bank account and placed what I could in there. I put only 10,000 in cash into my carry on, any more than that would be flagged. After some consideration, I chose to fly in to India and backpack through to Nepal, as it had no extradition treaty with America. I really just needed somewhere to disappear to, before anyone found Mother. I’d told her friends that she’d gone to a spa to get work done. They’d all agreed it was about time. I laugh every time when I think of that cheeky lie. She always sneered at the nips and tucks her friends got. They were having a field day with that bit of gossip, I’m sure.

The pilot came on the loudspeaker and warned us of rough air ahead. The seatbelt light dinged on and the stewardesses briskly walked back to strap themselves in. Everything in the overhead compartment rumbled and then went quiet. I gave a sigh of relief too soon. The plane hit a large air pocket and dropped suddenly. Rot foot, next to me grunted with the force of the hit. All I could do was hold the seat in front of me with a death grip, practicing my deep breathing. Then from the corner of my eye, I saw something.

There was smoke. Thick, black, billowing, smoke. It poured from the right engine outside my window.

I gasped and was going to alert the stewardess but the pilot came on with his deep authoritative voice, “We’re going to be making a stop at Tinsdale Airfield.” That’s it. We’re stopping, no explanation. If I hadn’t seen the smoking engine, I would be worried that the cops were already here for me. The strange fear that hung in the back of my mind. One I’d have to grow accustomed to.

As we descended, the other passengers became louder and louder with questions and demands for answers. I sat quietly and let them do their jobs. What good did it do for me to know anything. Bubkiss that’s what.

Landing was rough and I had to repeatedly stop myself from grasping my neighbors hand in fear. We were finally  on the ground rolling towards the tiny airport with its one terminal, when the lights went out. The plane’s engine whined, shutting down.

We rolled to a stop and everyone stayed silent for a moment before erupting into an outburst of useless questions. The attendant with her well coiffed red hair, fought to be heard over the rude passengers. Then a voice I recognized as the pilots came from behind the curtain. “Sit down and be quiet please!” He slid from behind the redhead and into the cabin smoothly. Miraculously, people stopped to listen. “All the electrical is down, along with an engine. I don’t know when we will be getting a replacement plane, but our affiliates inside will help you get along to your destinations. Were very sorry for the inconvenience.” There was grumbling and the business man at the end of my row frantically banged on his phone, “Piece of shit!”  Everyone was doing nothing but complaining, so I put on my headphones, closed my eyes, and waited in silence for the bothered mob to leave the plane. I was in no rush really.

A few minutes later, I opened my eyes again and everyone was gone. I pulled my carry-on out of the overhead bin, and walked to the front. I could hear worried voices, “It could have happened in the air! We could have crashed.” a woman said. The pilot’s voice interrupted her tirade, “It wasn’t the engine that shut down the electrical. Something else is going on.”


More to come….



Take Off-Part 2 (Short Story)

Take Off – #3 The End     (Short Story)



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