Planes

Fiction By Erin // 4/6/2012

*A/N* This is my story that got published a while back. Lucy Anne wanted to read it, but it wasn't up on the website where it got published anymore. So, for those of you who haven't read it, here it is!

 

My eyelids peel apart slowly. I don’t have time to even know what’s happening before Mom is all over me, screaming my name and thanking God that I’m alive. My cheeks and arms are wet, from her tears, I think, when somebody drags her off of me.
            Around me is that familiar sterilized hospital smell, the nurses and doctors in scrubs bustling around. Am I sick again? I wonder. My arms and legs and ribs and everything aches and throbs. I can’t move my right arm.
            My mom’s cries are awful. She sounds like someone being tortured. I wonder why she’s so upset. I’ve had cancer for two years up until now. She has to be used to it.
            Another doctor with a somber face enters the room. He walks straight to my mother and tells her something. She stops crying, stops screaming, and her face goes pale. She shoves him aside and runs out of the room.
            I try to ask what’s happening, but the nurses shush me sweetly and tell me that everything will be all right. I tell them that I want to know what’s going on. They learn to ignore me.
            Michael bursts in, his eyebrows furrowed and blue eyes more prominent than usual, like they always are when he’s worried. He comes over and gives me a hug, allowing himself a brief sigh of relief. I ask him what’s going on, if I’m sick again, and he won’t answer me. He says that he doesn’t know what’s happening either. He asks the nurses where Mom went and he takes off out the door of my room. I am persistent, asking what’s going on at every possible moment.
            When they come back in, I see the bright blue of my Dad’s eyes in the doorway through my own bleary ones.
            “Dad!” I cry. He’ll explain what’s going on.
            “It’s me, Katelyn,” Michael says, his voice choking. I ask what’s wrong, where’s Dad? But before I can even finish the sentence, Mom erupts in tears.
            “He didn’t make it, Katie. He didn’t make it through the crash,” he says, his voice muffled by his hands, which clutch his face.
            “What crash?” I shout--
           
Five Days Later        
            The sound of my name hits me like a knife in the chest.
            Michael sits down next to the cold window, the seat everybody avoids. I shift myself in the other direction.
            “Katelyn, do you want something to eat?” my brother’s voice asks again. I feel myself shake my head in reply. He sighs and his footsteps plod away.
            Crinkling plastic comes from the kitchen, along with something hard hitting the counter. In a few minutes, there are crackers with cheese set on the coffee table.
            “Please eat it,” Michael says, and he strides away. I try my best to resist, but my stomach is aching too much. Reluctantly, I take a bite of one of the cheesy crackers. My eyes almost water from the delicious saltiness of it. I wolf down the rest of them in only a few seconds and am left with the intense craving for more.
            I cross my arms over my belly as though that will stop the growling and lean against the couch’s armrest, adjusting my arm that lies in a plain white cast, only to find that it smells like Dad’s old popcorn that’s fallen down the crack at the side of the cushion. It’s such a familiar smell that it brings tears to my eyes and I, as quickly as my weak body will let me, yank myself away.
            Dad hands me a bowl of popcorn as he sits down. “You looking forward to flying again tomorrow?” he asks with a knowing smile.
            I nod vigorously and take a handful of popcorn. He strokes my fuzzy head.
            “Hope that the helmet’ll still fit, with all that hair you’re getting,” he comments, his blue eyes glinting with the light of the TV. I grin and feel my hair.
            “It’s growing back dark, like yours” I say.
            “Funny how things like that happen,” he says, through a mouthful of popcorn.
            I smile at the thought and curl up next to him, my head leaning against his chest.     “I can’t imagine myself with hair,” I mutter sleepily.
            “I haven’t stopped imagining it since you started the chemo,” Dad says, and when I glance up at him with blurry eyes, I see him smiling with bright eyes full of happiness. “I’m glad you’re healthy, Katelyn,” he murmurs.
            “Me too. I love you,” I whisper, huddling a little bit closer.
            “Love you too.”
            The wake up is abrupt and comes too soon. I feel, without looking, for Dad beside me, but I know that he isn’t there.
            Mom drops by for a little while, trying to get me to talk, stroking my head and rambling on aimlessly about how beautiful my hair’s going to look, and how long it’s been since I’ve been able to grow it. I wish she would stop. Her hands on my hair feel too much like Dad’s. I don’t say anything. I just look at her eyes and see that she’s just as fragile and weak as I am, on the inside.
            When Mom leaves, my mind echoes the same words, like some sort of horrible, lethal chant. You should’ve died, Katie, should’ve died. Look at you, you’re sick anyway. Look at him, he was perfect. He took such good care of you--
            Michael walks past me, his strides quick and determined as he heads towards the kitchen.
            “I should’ve died,” I say. My voice doesn’t even sound like my own anymore. It’s as if it’s coming from someone else entirely. Michael freezes in his tracks.
            “What?”
            “Dad shouldn’t be dead. I should’ve died. I was supposed to anyway.”
            His hands clutch my shoulders roughly, his eyes wide and bright with desperation. “No. No, no, no, no. Don’t say that, please,” he says, each word more abrupt.
            “You know it’s true,” I hiss. “He was fine! I’m messed up anyway.” Something salty falls into my mouth. I lift my good hand and feel myself crying.
            “You’re alive,” Michael says shortly.
            “And Dad’s not,” I whisper, my voice shaking and choking. He slowly takes his fingers off of my shoulders, his face completely still. He lets his head fall into his hands and runs his fingers through his hair.
            “What really happened?” I ask. He doesn’t lift up his head when he answers.
            “Mom said that you and Dad were flying, your first plane trip since you’ve been sick. The engine stopped after about ten minutes. It fell. When everyone got to the scene, they found Dad on top of you,” his voice shakes. “A piece of shrapnel had broken his spinal cord. He was barely alive by the time they got to him. He died in the hospital. The seatbelt was broken. He leapt on top of you to keep that shrapnel from killing you. He wanted you to live.”
            My world is turning. I feel as though I’m falling, but not physically. My heart is dropping to my feet. A lump pounds in my throat, until I can’t stand it, and a scream rips from my mouth.
            My brother’s arms are around me as I scream and sob and punch even him in the chest. I’m not aware of what’s happening anymore until I can’t breathe and I just sit there, crying dryly into his shoulder.
            “I want to remember what happened. I want to know what we did before he died,” I gasp, my breaths heavy and ragged. My eyes and head and arms and legs and everything all over feels so heavy. It’s like weights have been attached to my limbs and they’re dragging me below consciousness.
            “I know,” Michael murmurs into my ear. I feel myself fading, my eyelids fluttering, struggling to stay awake. Then, everything falls away.
 
            Dad helps my small, frail body onto Uncle Harry’s private plane. He fastens my helmet and goggles, laughing as he tells me to stop smiling, or the buckles won’t fit. I try to do the seatbelt myself, but my hands are still too weak and shaky.
            Dad starts the engine. It hums and whirrs and pops. Behind me, the propellers are slowly starting to go faster. The power can be felt from all the way in the cab.
            Dad asks me if I’m ready. I tell him I’ve never been more ready for anything in my life and he starts to take off.
            Laughter fills me up, wild and reckless, as my eardrums start to pound from the takeoff, a feeling I’ve been empty without for the past two years.
            Dad steers the plane with smooth expertise. We’re going left, right, left, right, flips and loops, everywhere. He looks at me, in my laughter, and starts to laugh too. There are tears, barely visible through the goggles, in his crisp blue eyes. I haven’t seen him this happy in forever.
           
            When I wake up, I’m smiling. I keep the picture of my dad, crying as he flies me on a plane after two years of my sickness, hung in my mind as if it were on my wall, to look at always.
           
One Year Later
 
            Today is the day that my father died and I lived. The wind blows through my chin length hair. It’s the color that his was-a dark coffee brown. I smooth it and tuck it behind my ears.
            Mom has tears streaming down her cheeks. I grasp her hand and squeeze it, smiling sadly. She smiles back, and clutches the yellow daisies we bought closer to her chest. Michael is on my other side. He isn’t crying, but his jaw pulses as if he’s trying to hold it back. He walks straight and erect, like the air force pilot he’s become.
            We’re almost to the site of the crash. The five trees that the plane knocked over still lay there. Uncle Harry never bothered to pick them up, I guess. He didn’t come here, or to my father’s funeral. I think it hurts too much.
            Mom takes a shaky breath and steps forward, laying the daisies at the base of one of the fallen pine trees.
            “I love you, Robert. You saved our daughter. I miss you,” she murmurs. She kneels down, kisses one of the flowers, and steps back.
            Michael goes next. I can’t hear what he says, but he doesn’t take long. I pause before stepping forward.
            Mom nods in my direction, her face still, no more tears falling from her eyes.
            It feels like everything is in slow motion, even though it only takes one step to get up to the base of the tree. I already know what to say, what he wants to hear, what he imagined for two years. As I kneel, my whisper is delicate and even I can barely hear it, but I smile.
             “I have hair now, Dad.”

Comments

Wow. I am blown away. I have

Wow. I am blown away. I have no words to say. This was so sweet and I love it! You did such a--I can't put it into words...you did such a fabulous job and you have blown me away!  The ending was perfect. What a great, great job!!!

Lucy Anne | Fri, 04/06/2012

"It is not the length of life, but the depth of life." Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thank you so much!

Thank you so much!

Erin | Fri, 04/06/2012

"You were not meant to fit into a shallow box built by someone else." -J. Raymond

Aww...so sad, yet soooo

Aww...so sad, yet soooo sweet! You did a beautiful job of it! (Your a pretty girl, too) :)

Lilly Putt | Fri, 04/06/2012

Jesus Loves us all!!

Aw, thanks, for both

Aw, thanks, for both compliments :)

Erin | Sat, 04/07/2012

"You were not meant to fit into a shallow box built by someone else." -J. Raymond

Good job :D

Great job Erin! :)

Aredhel Írissë | Sat, 04/07/2012

I think I read it when it was

I think I read it when it was first published, but reading it again was like new.

Anna | Fri, 04/13/2012

I have hated the words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right. --The Book Thief

Hannah: Thanks! :D Anna: Wow,

Hannah: Thanks! :D
Anna: Wow, that's a huge compliment to me, thank you!

Erin | Fri, 04/13/2012

"You were not meant to fit into a shallow box built by someone else." -J. Raymond

wow

I was totally absorbed in the story. It was beautiful, real and had a great story! How lovely...

Elizabeth | Fri, 04/13/2012

************

The Holy Spirit is the quiet guest of our soul." -St. Augustine

Your welcome :)

Your welcome :)

Aredhel Írissë | Sat, 04/14/2012

Thanks, Elizabeth :)

Thanks, Elizabeth :)

Erin | Sat, 04/14/2012

"You were not meant to fit into a shallow box built by someone else." -J. Raymond

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