Ten hours out of Honolulu there was a shuddering jolt. Somebody in business class screamed. Eyes turned to a line of smoke trailing one of the engines.

There was crack. A hiss of escaping air. Oxygen masks dropped, dancing in the turbulence. Barb grasped my hand.

Speakers crackled. ‘This is Captain Farrell. We’ve lost an engine and cabin pressure.’ The smoking engine exploded. Cabin lights went out. Gasps and screams mixed with more mechanical sounds—creaking, grinding, cracking. ‘Remain in your seats. Fasten your seatbelts. We need to lose altitude fast.’ The plane wheeled around.

Nearby, a woman began praying, rosaries in hand. A couple in front of us embraced.

I turned to Barb and said what I’d never had the courage to say. That she was everything to me. I couldn’t imagine myself without her.

Her pretty face was contorted by the moment. ‘It’s no time for pretending,’ she said. ‘I still love you but ——’

The lights popped on and the captain’s voice crackled. ‘We’ve stabilised pressure and have power back in three engines. LAX have services ready for us, but we expect we’ll bring this thing in. It’s been an interesting flight.’

A cheer went up among the passengers. Barb squeezed my hand then released it and turned away.

LA came into view, full of promise and hope.

 

2011-Richard Holt / small stories about love (smallstoriesaboutlove.wordpress.com)

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