So, here I am, about to board a plane to my parents' house. About to board a plane, to hear “I told you so” and “I told you not to move in with him” a million and one times. I try not to groan out loud again because people have already started looking at me like a set of arms grows from my head.
I told myself so many times that if something happened between Toby and me, I would move somewhere else in New York. I could find plenty of places, and plenty of people were looking for roommates. Hell, I could have kicked his sorry, cheating ass out to move in with the whore next door. Instead, here I am with all my belongings at my side, running away. Running to my parents, who have never been supportive of my decisions, ever. How messed up is that?
The flight attendant started boarding first class ten minutes ago, and they are still boarding now. I roll my eyes, waiting as patiently as I can with everyone else too broke to buy a first-class ticket. My jacket slips from my hands as I wait; when I bend to pick it up, the woman beside me jerks to the side like I have a contagious disease. “Sorry,” I mutter to her, not caring if she hears me.
I check my phone for the hundredth time since the passengers started boarding, seeing that only two minutes have passed since the last time I checked. Also, a text from my little sister Darby blinks at me. “Why are you coming back here? I thought once you got away from this hellhole you were never coming back. What happened?” Way too much to tell her over a text message is what happened.
I can still leave. I can pick up all of my things and walk out. Get back to my apartment and kick Toby out on his ass. In fact, I would very much love to see him squirm to find his footing again. No, you are not your mother, I think.
My phone rings loudly as the nice lady at the desk calls for business class to begin boarding. Before I can stop it, a loud string of curse words pours out of my mouth when I see Toby’s name on my caller ID. “Sorry,” I say, looking around at all the angry looks and parents covering children’s ears. “Oh, like they’ve never heard it before,” I snap at one woman.
“Hello,” I say, stepping away from everyone, hearing a few grunts from some parents as I pass by.
“Piper, don’t leave. We can talk about this,” his whiny voice rings through my phone, making me grit my teeth so hard I worry I may break my jaw or at least a few teeth.
“Are you freaking kidding me? Toby, I just saw you with your dick in our neighbor. There’s nothing more to talk about,” I snap as quietly as I can. I just spent the last four hours trying to get that image out of my head, and now it’s back in full force. I had seen a whole lot more of my former neighbor, Jade, than I ever cared to see.
“It’s not like that, Piper.”
“It’s not like that? Really? Then what is it like?”
“It was just one time. It’ll never happen again. I swear.” There was a girlish giggle in the background.
I turn to see that I need to start boarding the plane, so I need to speed this up. “You can do whatever you want because we’re done. Especially since I know she’s still there. I can hear her laughing, you stupid asshat.”
“She’s leaving, Piper. Please come back. I can’t live without you. We’ve been together since high school.” His voice holds a pleading note, but I push away any thoughts of pity I feel for him.
“Yeah, well, you should have thought of that before you fucked Jade.”
I turn off the phone and run toward the gate. I can’t believe the lines he just gave me. Did he pick up a book on the worst lines ever before calling me? No, that would require him to know how to read. I hope he catches some disease that makes his dick fall off. It would serve him right. There are still a few people ahead of me as I take out my boarding pass and prepare to return to Hell.
The only available seat when I bought my ticket was a middle seat, in the middle of the plane, but I didn’t hesitate. I wish I had hesitated a little because I’m sitting in between a mom with a toddler who started screaming at the top of its lungs the moment they boarded the plane and a very large man with a nasty cough.
I put in my earbuds and crank up the volume on my iPod until my ears physically hurt. The mom beside me gives me a dirty look at the music blaring through my ears, but I can’t take that screaming child another minute.
The flight attendant tells everyone that takeoff would take a little longer because there was a problem with something, but we shouldn’t worry—they would get it fixed. I hear the mom beside me mutter how they should have done that before they boarded, and I agree but not enough to say so. Every song that plays through my iPod reminds me of either Toby or the relationship we had. Tears fill my eyes as I think about him, and I shake my head to try to rid myself of all thoughts of Toby.
I feel a little jerk as the plane finally starts moving backward. My eyes move through the cabin at everyone else in their seats. Some are already sleeping; how they sleep through this banshee beside me I’ll never know. A couple of people read to themselves. Others are on their tablets or phones, waiting for the signal to turn them off.
A burst of something cold and wet hits me on my chest, shocking me back to where I was. I squeal as the little brat stops screaming and starts laughing at what he just did. Water covers me from my chest to my lap, some dripping down to my socks. “I am so sorry,” the mom says, trying to dig through her things for a blanket to help me dry off.
People from all over shoot looks at the commotion. The man with the nasty cough tries to get up so I can rise to get my jacket and maybe reach the bathroom really quick. “I’m sorry, sir, but please stay seated,” says a woman’s voice from across the cabin. “Perfect,” I mutter as I use napkins to dab at some of the spots on my skin. Well, at least it’s just water.
“I’m sorry. I can’t believe he did that. He’s usually so well-behaved.”
“It’s okay, accidents happen,” I say as nicely as I can in this situation. I glare at the kid when the mom looks away because I’m not sure it was an accident. He puts his fist in his mouth, drooling all over it while watching me with his giant blue eyes.
When the plane starts to take off, the mom puts a sippy cup in his mouth to try to stop the screaming that’s going to come anyway. The takeoff is really rough, and once in the air, the plane rocks from side to side and bounces. It isn’t particularly windy today, so the turbulence confuses me. I lean over as much as I can toward the mom at the window. The ground is so far down now that I can scarcely make out some of the buildings.
The plane doesn’t get any smoother the higher we get, making a few people shriek and some children start to cry. I yank my headphones out to hear if the captain says anything, but all I hear is screaming and crying. The woman beside me has eyes as big as her screaming child’s, and tears fill hers as well.
Some people talk about accidents happening so fast that they don’t remember it. Well, they’re crazy because once it’s clear that we are about to crash, everything seems to slow down. At least to me it does. My life doesn’t flash before my eyes, and I don’t see some bright white light. I see everything that happens around me. I see the mom beside me clutching her little boy as tightly as she can. The man on the other side of me screams at the top of his lungs, watching as the plane goes down.
Some people did not buckle their seat belts, so they flop all around the cabin, trying to grab on to anything they can to stabilize themselves. Bags, phones, tablets, pillows, blankets, and anything else people didn’t secure fly around the plane. Another thing that happens is the silence. It is as if I went deaf. I see everyone screaming, but I don’t hear it. It is silent.
In all this craziness, I see something that I will never be able to explain to anyone. I look at the area ahead of me, which now faces toward the earth that it hurtles to. A guy stands in the middle of the aisle, staring at me. How he isn’t falling I’ll never know, but he just stands there, glued to his spot in front of me. He has on a gray beanie with his brown hair curled over the side of it, and his face is still as he watches me. His green eyes look like they are glowing. Our eyes are locked as the earth comes up to meet us.
When the plane hits, I close my eyes, not wanting to see my own death coming. I hear no other sound. Everything is just still and dark. For a brief moment, I feel pain before that too goes away. Then there is just nothing.