Checking my briefcase one more time, I ran my fingers along the files as I sat down in a seat across from Terminal 7, where I would be boarding. I began to fidget, trying to make myself look less lonely and nervous when a woman not too much shorter than I sat down in the seat across from me. She was thin with auburn hair that just barely ended at her ribs. She wore a permanent smirk that evoked the slightest amount of mystery among any eyes that fell upon her. She pulled out a silver laptop, typing like your typical business woman would, almost like she had sat in these very seats hundreds of times. It made my heart slow to only a slight marathon race, seeing her so nonchalant about the eleven-hour flight we had ahead of us.
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As the shrill, high-pitch voice came overhead informing that “ terminal seven is now boarding, please have your boarding pass ready to depart to Paris, France,” my hands began sweating yet again. I have only flown on a plane twice in my life, but never have I flown on an eleven-hour flight across the country. I watched as everyone sent their final texts and brought phone calls with loved ones to an end. I almost wished I had someone I could call to calm my nerves. Someone like my mother, but in the past few years, I have distanced myself from everyone I loved, especially her, to reserve the room for work.
I worked owning a small, seemingly unimportant company that wished to expand into Europe. I pushed the thought of my mother out of my head and let the thoughts of paperwork flood into my head again as I handed the flight attendant my ticket and boarded the plane, leaving the mysterious auburn hair back in the waiting area. About an hour into the flight, my nerves were finally settling down when I felt the wing jerk, making my seat vibrate. I opened my window to see what was once a beautiful mosaic painting of a sunrise, now looking like a sneak peak into an angry mind. The panels on the wing of the plane I am sitting right above are standing up in the aggressive winds, looking almost like they are about to be ripped off. Then one does.
And then another. The fasten seat belt sign illuminates against the frightened faces that fill up the cabin. The man sitting in the seat next to me woke slowly from his sleep and turned to me, asking “ do you have any idea of what’s going on?” I nervously shook my head and tightened my grip on the armrest. Suddenly, the captain’s deep, yet alerting voice flooded into the cabin, causing my legs to shake, going almost numb. “ This is your captain speaking. We are experiencing a problem with the wings of the plane.
It is looking rather serious so if you all could please…” His voice cut off immediately as the cabin abruptly went dark. Outside of my window, I saw the smoke thickening right before my eyes. I shut my windows as fast as my shaking hands could and tightened my seatbelt.
We all practically jumped out of our seats when we heard the strangest noise come from the plane and then we were falling. I knew everyone else could feel it too because cries and screams began to interrupt the dead silence. I gripped onto the armrest with white knuckles, squeezed my eyes shut, and tried to think if my mother would even miss me. In the faint distance of my blurred mind, I heard gut-wrenching screams that pierce the thick, smoky air but as I became more conscious, I realized the screams were in my head. The first thing I felt was a pain. The most terrible pain that felt as if someone were drilling holes in my skull.
I tried to open my eyes but every time I did, the mixture of sunlight and thick smoke poured behind my eyelids, taking the pain within my skull to a whole other level. When I finally opened my eyes, I saw no one. I was expecting a bloody scene but I saw no one at all. I began trying to move parts of my body, making sure I was not terribly hurt. I tried to stand up but fell over as the world began spinning and black tunnel vision overcame my eyesight. My vision slowly restored as I looked up and saw a woman standing only a few yards away.
By the time the tunnel vision had fully subsided, the woman was kneeling down next to me. Her auburn hair brushed my cheek as she helped me sit up. Her smirk became my focal point and momentarily made me forget about the pain. She introduced herself as Elizabeth and we immediately clicked. Hours went by so quickly with her, which made this situation not as frightening.
We sat and talked for hours as I fell in and out of sleep but when I did fall asleep, she didn’t mind. It made me realize how nice it was to not feel so lonely and for once feel genuinely comfortable with someone. She kept my spirits up as we talked about getting off the island together and as she continued to run her fingers through my hair even when I drifted in and out of consciousness. I awoke suddenly as I heard helicopter wings slicing through the clouds and I immediately sat up, so fast I almost lost consciousness again. I shook Elizabeth with all of my might, making her scramble to find the flares. She handed the flare gun to me, eyes glimmering with hope.
I wrapped my shaky index finger around the trigger and pulled. The flare shot high into the air, illuminating the dark sky. “ We are finally getting out of here. Together,” Elizabeth grinned. The helicopter turned toward in a large circle and began to fly toward us.
Elizabeth pulled me close in the tight embrace, stroking my hair. Before this very moment, I had never felt so grateful and genuinely thankful for my life than I do now. I don’t care about expanding to Paris or even having a job at all, I just need happiness. I grabbed Elizabeth’s hand, pressed it to my cheek, and then to my lips, holding her closer than I have ever held a woman. As the helicopter landed near the shore of the island, I felt my eyes slowly getting heavier.
I snuggled my head into her lap and let my eyes win the battle. I felt hands grab and lift me from the sand and I could hear the commotion of voices no further than a foot away from my head. I could feel the air from the helicopter wings ripple through my hair as I was put inside. I wanted to see what these people were doing to me but I could not force myself to open my eyes. I could feel soft hands on my forearm feeling my veins until eventually, I felt a pinch of pain as an IV went into my arm. After only a few minutes, I finally opened my eyes yet the world remained spinning.
I looked around with what little energy I had but did not see Elizabeth anywhere. I had been resting on her, so I know they saw her. “ Where is Elizabeth? I was laying in her lap when the helicopter landed,” I asked, stumbling on my words. The woman looked at me strangely and whispered to the man on the other side of me. He looked at her with depressed eyes and ran his hand through the thick, black hair covering his head.
He adjusted his tone and spoke to me like a small child would be spoken to. “ Sir, you hit your head incredibly hard and we are not quite positive how bad the damage is. The entire island was searched and you were the only living person found.” He paused, registering my facial expressions but I was not giving him anything to decipher. My face was frozen but I still was not understanding what he was trying to say. He saw my confusion and continued, “ when we arrived, you were laying on a lump of sand without anyone even close to you.
The amount of head trauma you endured and emotional shock was all more than enough to cause slight hallucination. This girl Elizabeth was just a hallucination.” My mind was now in knots as I tried to sort out what he was saying through the severe physical head pain I was still having. Suddenly it hit me. I thought back to the auburn-haired girl across from me outside of the terminal and then I realized what had happened. As I kept thinking, more detailed flowed through including the captivating smize and her embroidered name under the company logo on her shirt.
I began to feel sorry for myself, as I always do but then I realized how desperate my mind was to feel loved and not so alone. Maybe it was the emotional shock or whatever drugs they were flowing through the IV but my eyes began to swell. I wanted to save myself from the pit of loneliness I had let myself fall into so I looked at the man who was still staring sorrowfully at me. “ Do you mind doing me a quick favor before we get to the hospital?” His eyes shot into a more approving look as he quickly nodded. “ Do you mind typing out a message on your phone for me. I just need to let my mother know I am alright.”