This story was a part of a 7-Day challenge between 12 to 19 October to write a short fiction every day. I'll be posting some selected works here.
This story, in particular, was inspired by the MH17 crash that happened when a Malaysian Airlines flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was shot down on 17 July 2014 while flying over eastern Ukraine. All 283 passengers and 15 crew were killed. I was in Europe when this happened and it hit me quite hard. I fly quite a lot and a plane is just a composition of so many stories, one of them I tried to capture here.
It is hard for me to answer when people ask what I do? I transport people to their hopes and dreams. Many people don't think of me much after they have gotten off although I remember every single one of them. There are almost 300 passengers that I carry every journey. Each of them is distinct, the way they touch me, the way they lean against the window. They way they walk across the aisles. The way their eyes get wide when they see the sun rising on the infinite horizon.
I wasn't always that observant, It was only when I first met Jane that everyone became so interesting. It was my 100th voyage I remember and it was her first day. I remember because she told me. She put her palm on me and gave me a kiss when no one was looking. She whispered that she had wanted to be on a plane her whole life, it was her dream since she was a little girl. She couldn't pass the flying exam, well because she had some medical difficulties, she wouldn't tell me but I didn't care. For the first time in my life, someone valued me, for who I was, not a means to their end. I was happy.
She grew up with me, she would sometimes go to the toilet and talk to me, she would tell me how she wanted a child so bad. A year later It was there where she found out she was pregnant, she had tears, she was so happy. I wish I could tell her that it was going to be ok, that she had it all. That she deserved all the love and care in the world.
She took leave and came back after a few months. When she came back she didn't speak to me for a month. She would walk across aisles and serve passengers, like a zombie. Two days later she broke down and told me how she lost her child during birth and she can never be a mother again. And she felt so guilty, so guilty to be alive. Tears rolled down her face. I wish I could have hugged her, I wish I could have given her a part of me. But I couldn't, all I was, was a lifeless marionette who was brought to life by her love, that's all I had.
Sometimes she would come and tell me how rude and disrespectful some passengers can get, how they would some times touch her and pretend she didn't notice. She would grit her teeth and tell me how she wished she could punch them and then spill a coffee all over their heads. She would close her eyes and imagine that in her head, and then she would laugh till her eyes would water. She always squinted her eyes while laughing, I had never seen a smile like that before. I loved flying, I love the weightless sensation, but I would trade all that for her laugh in a heartbeat.
The last time I saw her was on that fateful morning, on the 17th of July. I still remember it clearly, we were cruising so high above the clouds. Jane was serving tea in the first class when I got an alarm, the plane was locked down by a missile. I couldn't believe it. Who would ever do that? The pilots tried frantically but I knew, I knew this was the endgame and we had just a few seconds. I knew there was no chance any passenger could live.
The missile blasted the left side of the cockpit, released thousands of steel pellets into the cockpit, peppering the nose. The pilots were instantly dead. The business class and the cockpit got separated. I lost all control and took a nosedive. As I dove I was slowly breaking into pieces, the wind and air just mercilessly tearing me apart. As I went down, I could hear the shrieks and wails of everyone inside. I saw Jane, she was sitting and holding a little boy, a boy who was playing in the aisle and didn't get a chance to get to his seat. And in the very last moments, she was comforting him, his tear stricken face. That was the last thing I remember before I hit the ground.
I crashed somewhere between a lake and a forest. As I lay broken on the ground. I wanted to hear a sound, any sound, praying to god that someone lived, someone survived. But all I heard was silence and the crackling of the fire.
Over the proceeding year, they slowly rebuilt me, trying to find the cause of the crash. They recovered the flight recorders. The found Jane, her body half-burned, still holding on to the little boy. The next few months were a blur. I remembered Jane's parents coming and visiting the site. I felt guilty, guilty to live, but not be alive. I wish I could have told them, that their daughter was loved, even though it was from a piece of broken metal who could fly, but she was.