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I enter onboard. It’s surprisingly light, almost comforting. I wonder why the seats are different colors. Maybe someone puked here. Maybe it’s the same plane my family was on with the turbulence that made my sister throw up. I wish I could be in first class, or on a plane with better service. Would it be worth the money? Perhaps I’d get more sleep.
I slide into my seat, over leftover snack mix and the big, bulky armrests that drive me crazy. I put my bag under my seat and sigh in relief. My dad laughs at my action. I smile, absentmindedly, because I’m exhausted. Buckling up, I look out the window at the giant jet next to us and remember a CSI show I watched. The row of windows on the top is actually a room where the flight attendants and pilots can take a break. Maybe it’d be nice to be a stewardess, to meet new people while avoiding those you know but don’t want to. You would get to tell your kids all kinds of stories about people from around the globe.
I notice that we start moving. I think how cold the man directing the plane must be. His breath frosts as soon as it is expelled. He moves his arms slowly and fluidly, practiced you could say. I wonder how many planes he oversees a day. I don’t know what he’s paid for this, but it should probably be more.
The plane moves a bit faster after exiting its slot; my little sister is already fast asleep. How does she do that? I ask myself. Then I think of the argument we had earlier today in the Seattle Terminal.
“Ooh, look Macy, they have a McDonalds!” she said, pointing towards the fast food place.
“Why do you want to go there? We can go there any time at home,” I asked.
“Wul, but, I like McDonalds,” she pouted, looking up at me.
“Okay, but I’m not going there. You can, but I’m getting some food, not grease and chicken-flavored fish from somewhere in the middle of nowhere.”
“It is not!” releasing her grip on my hand and staring defiantly at me.
“Is too, and their fries are only good ‘cause they fry them in sugar,” staring her down.
“Nu-uh! You don’t know that! You don’t even work there!” she proclaimed.
“Yeah I do know,” I said, quickly and short. If there was one thing that could get me angry, it was telling me I was wrong or didn’t know. “Besides, I told you, you can go there.”
“Noyadidn’t, you just said you weren’t going there,” pointing and sneering.
“Yeah, and before that I said ‘okay’, meaning you could go!” Now I had raised my voice. My parents, who were in our gate turned their heads and looked at us. Great I had thought, really, she had to do this? I waved to them and gave them a gesture to let them know we were fine.
“Fine, I’ll take you to McDonalds. After that, I’m going to that Italian place with the pizza we liked last time.”
“Wait, no. I want that.”
“What?” I questioned, looking at her again.
“I want pizza,” grabbing my hand
I sighed, frustrated.
“Fine,” I replied staring ahead, “Now we’re both getting pizza. Why don’t you just be more frustrating?” I muttered.
“I HEARD THAT!!” she screamed while yanking her hand out of mine (again), “I’m telling mom and dad.”
“Urgh! Let’s just go get the stupid food.”
And that was how our trip started. Funny how vacations can be so stressful. Airplanes always seem like Pooh’s thinking spot to me. They’re a bit like moving beds, as soon as you sit down, you start thinking whether your thoughts be good, bad, memories, or daydreams.
I look at my sister, wishing she weren’t here with us and thinking it was all her fault. Maybe it was me, I think, of course I am to blame as well. I shouldn’t be so hard on her. I sigh and then sit back, falling deep into sleep, barely realizing we have already taken off.
I dream that I’m falling. Again. I consciously know this is a repeating dream and that it’s just a dream. It happens to be a favorite of mine and I force myself to keep dreaming. I fall and fall, farther and farther down, the ground is getting closer and closer and then, at the last moment, I sprout big, white wings and lift up in flight. I can almost feel the wind steaming my hair behind me, the adrenaline high rushing through my system, and the beating sensation of my wings flapping through the air. I see mountains surrounding the small town below me, like in an airplane (ironically), but better.
I jerk awake, flinching as I see my little sister staring at me.
“You smile in your sleep,” she says, simply and matter-of-factly.
“Huh,” I wonder, “cool.” She smiles back at me and I remember our argument again, angering me. I think of her face, that whiny little angel face so bent on getting her way. I sigh again and reposition myself in my seat, wishing that stupid argument had never happened.
The flight attendant blares on the intercom, “The captain has just informed me there will be an (unfortunately) large bit of turbulence, so please return to your seat, buckle your seatbelt, and try to ignore this minor inconvenience.”
Large bit of turbulence? I think, What on earth? I turn again to my sister, who looks at me again, confused as well. I wonder what she is thinking, about what turbulence is (she’s too young to remember the last time) or what’s going to happen. Perhaps both, in this scenario.
Suddenly, we lurch up. A few people pull out bags from the seat in front of them. Then we fall back down, then up again, and then, finally, down. But we don’t stop and level ourselves; we just keep going down and down. Realizing what is happening, a lady behind my seat screams, and, like she is a leader we must follow, several more scream too. Soon everyone, spare a few, is screaming and crying and yelling as we dive beneath the clouds.
My sister and I look at each other again, neither one of us screaming. We’re too scared to. We each simultaneously grip each other’s hands and stare in fear at each other, hoping and praying in silence. In this moment, I see her. I see her wants, her needs, her fears, her joys, her loves, and her hates. I see her as a mirror of me, one who follows behind me where I go and in how and what I’m thinking. I see her as me, in me, always a part of me and as we level out, I remember. I remember every argument, every silent treatment, every fight, every smile, every laugh, every hug and realize I’m fighting and loving and living with me. She is me and I am her; everything else is unimportant.
I know my five-year old sister will remember this as we embrace and cry over each other’s shoulders, but she will never remember the same way I will. And now, I will never forget just who my sister is to me.