It’s ironic to die on your way to a funeral. I hope God isn’t a fan of irony.
I’m in my seat on the plane watching people settle in around me. I take a shaky breath. Fifty minutes defying gravity doesn't sound so bad. But 50 minutes is more than enough time to die; enough time for one thing or many things to go wrong.
It’s my first time flying this airline. Why does the upholstery on the seats look so worn, the carpet faded? How old is this plane? What corners have the airline cut this month, this week? The kind that could kill me?
I remember to not give voice to my fear. God is with me. My life is in His hands. His plans for me are good (not death by plane). I wonder about others who have fallen from the sky, wonder what plans He had for them.
I survey the other passengers. Some are falling asleep. A few are reading. One woman is spanking her child. I stretch my neck to look out the window across from me. The sky is overcast but the ground is dry. Grey sky above, grey ground below. Grey is the colour of impending death, not black. Black is solid, final. Definite. You know where you stand with black. But grey, grey has just the right amount of ambiguous. Grey lets you hope. Grey should know better.
A flight attendant gives the safety announcement. She points out emergency exits; the closest to me is five rows away. But what’s an emergency exit when there’s nowhere to exit to? The flight attendant is dark skinned, with a weave that looks expensive. I’m sure expensive hair burns just as good as cheap.
I wonder about flight attendants. Do they, somewhere between their 2nd and 41st flight, develop immunity to the stomach knots that form in those moments when the engines quiet down after taxiing, just before they rev up again for take-off? The flight attendant is gesturing to the floor lights that should come on in case of an emergency. They do not come on now; aren’t they supposed to on cue? What else will fail to work like it’s supposed to? The wheels? The engines? Or something completely out of anyone’s hands, like the weather? Panic floods my chest and I clench my hands into fists.
A woman seated across from me, two rows ahead, catches my eye. She is putting on makeup. Her hand moves in sure strokes, painting black onto her eyebrows, red on her lips. She wipes a smudge from the corner of her mouth with a bold finger.
Calm settles upon me, slow and barely discernible. Like dew. This woman is going somewhere, meeting someone: the boyfriend of many years who just bought a ring? The prospective client who is about to give in? The secret lover? The interview panel that will decide whether she gets to relocate?
The deftness, the certainty in her fingers, is proof that she will get to where she needs to be. She will take me with her. We will land safely. And because she knows this I suddenly know it too.