Fear of Flying

April 12, 2017
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“Georgia! Get down here! We’re gonna miss the flight!” I groan and shove the covers off with my feet. There is no way we will make it to the airport in time, the flight is in an hour. And yet, we’re still going for it.
“Coming dad!  I throw my clothes on that I had laid out the night before and brush my teeth.
“Let’s go people!” my dad shouts. He’s waiting at the bottom of the stairs with a bagel for all of us and opens the door. “Hop in the car, we couldn’t get an Uber so we are going to have to park there.” I get in the car and buckle my seatbelt, but right when I get in, dad gets up and stomps back to the house to get Grayson and MC. “Grayson, MC, we’re all in the car, you’re holding us up!” Dad yells. Grayson stomps down the stairs and slinks out the door mumbling an excuse,
“Well, someone turned my alarm off so I woke up late.”
MC stares daggers at the back of Grayson’s head and brushes past dad on the way out. The twins can be a moody bunch, but they aren’t as bad as Andrew. He thinks he’s so cool because he’s a senior at West High, but the twins are only a year younger, and I’m a freshman there too. He’s sitting in the way back with his headphones on, pouting. Dad didn’t let him go to Florida with friends for Spring Break, because he says this is our last chance for a family vacation. He means our last family vacation without Karen. She’s really not that mean, but she’s nothing like mom. I remember our last family vacation that we went on as a whole family.
I remember Disney World. It’s called the happiest place on earth, and that’s what it felt like. We had so much fun on the rides, and we even got to stay late one night for the fireworks. We each got our own bed at the hotel, and we were allowed to order room service. It was all great until the last night. Dad took us swimming in the indoor pool while mom went out with some friends, and everyone came down to swim. Even Andrew. We were having a race to see who could get back upstairs to the hotel room the fastest, but when we got there, the hotel manager  was standing outside our door with two policeman.
“Mr. Bradley?”
“Yes that’s me,” said dad.
“Mr. Bradley I’m afraid there’s been an accident. I’m so sorry for your loss.” The next couple minutes felt like slow motion. I saw dad’s blurry face crumple as tears were pouring down my face. I don’t remember anything from the next couple days. Only bits and pieces. I remember them saying that she was hit by a drunk driver. A teenager fooling around. I know I shouldn’t, but I kind of feel bad for that kid. One wrong move, and you end up killing someone. You end up killing someone’s mom. My mom.
I resurface from the memory and find tears on my face.

“You okay G?” Dad asks.
“Yeah, I’m fine, my eyes are just watering for some reason,” I say as I wipe my eyes on my sleeve. I am hoping with all of my might that this trip will be better.
“Are we all here now?” Dad’s voice interrupts my thoughts.
“Yeah, let’s go,” MC says. I feel a wave of excitement take over my emotions. We are going to New York City. I love it there. The lights, the people, even the traffic, it just amazes me. We’re from Illinois, so it’s nothing like New York. I try to slide the door of the minivan closed, but it’s stuck.
“Well that’s just perfect, now we’re going to be even later because the stupid door decided to hold out on us,” Grayson says.
“Well it won’t help to complain about it Gray,” my dad snaps. His cheery demeanor has slowly left and is replaced by a subdued annoyance. I try the door again and it slides shut easily. Grayson rolls her eyes and dad’s frown deepens.  Maybe all my hoping won’t help much to make this trip better after all.

I don’t feel myself fall asleep, but someone is shaking me awake.
“Georgia! Georgia! Get up it’s time to go!” I unbuckle my seatbelt and climb out of the car.
“Grab your luggage everyone! Let’s get through security and then we are going to gate A13.” I grab my bags and start running into the airport. Luckily, the line is short so we make it to the front of the line in a matter of minutes. Before I know it, we’re running again.. We get through security in record time, and then we’re standing in the food area. I scan the signs and shout,
“There! Right there!” and point to a door way that leads to our gate.The Home Alone soundtrack is playing in my head as we sprint down the hall. We get some weird looks and a few shouts directed at us, but we keep going. We’ve come this far, and it would really suck to miss the flight now. I hear the final call for our flight over the loudspeaker, but we aren’t even close enough to see the gate.
“Let’s just stop now, we obviously aren’t going to make it,” Andrew says as he slows to a halt.
“We’re going to make it Andrew, and if we don’t I’m still not letting you go to Florida.” My dad replies. I roll my eyes and keep running, not even bothering to look back. I know Andrew is running, because he wouldn’t dare cross dad in this mood. I get to the gate first and the door is shut. I run around frantically trying to find a flight attendant, but there is no one in sight. I try the door and it isn’t locked, so I slip inside. I pause and retrace my steps halfway down the hall, but I’m pushed forward by the rest of my family.
“We missed it,” I say. “The opening to get on the plane is closed.”
“Well then, we’ll have to open it,” My dad replies. He pushes past me and yanks on the door handle. “It’s stuck,” He says. I walk to the door, pull as hard as I can, and it slides open.
“Just like the minivan.” I smile and step onto the plane. My dad goes first down the aisle, and the rest of us follow right behind him. We walk slowly to the back of the plane, and take our seats in the last two rows.
My ears are throbbing when I wake up. I glance out the window, and I see New York City. I look back again, and it’s even closer than before. Are we supposed to be going this fast? I glance up at the ceiling and the seat belt button is flashing furiously. I quickly buckle my seatbelt, and I’m locked into place. Static comes over the intercom and I cover my ears. Then the pilot’s voice breaks through.
“Please remain calm passengers. There has been a slight malfunction with our engines, but hopefully we will be up and running again soon.” Suddenly, the plane lurches, and we are tipping toward the ground. The pilot’s voice is cut off, and there is a moment of silence. Then noise. Screaming, crying, shouting. It’s all I hear. There is commotion near the back of the plane where people are trying to find parachutes but it’s too late. We are too close to the ground.
“Dad!” I shout, “MC! Anyone?” I am met with no response from my family. Why did I volunteer to sit by myself? I shut my eyes, grip the seat handles, and pray that it’s all a dream.
All at once there is a teeth gritting sound of tearing metal, and the front of the plane is gone. I try to scream, but no words will come out. The wind is whipping my face and I feel my grip on consciousness slipping away. Then everything is black.
I’m staring at the sky. The seagulls are so loud. Seagulls? I sit up abruptly and then quickly lay back down with a groan. My head feels like it’s splitting in two. I try to find my voice, but my throat feels like sandpaper. Water. I need water. I try to sit up again, slower this time, and soon I am standing. My arms grip my chest; every breath sends a ripping pain through my body. I walk and walk until I see sand. Beyond the sand is water. I walk as fast as I can to the edge and take a big gulp, but I quickly spit it out. It’s salt water. I turn back to where I came from and stop still in the sand. The plane is a mangled mess with trees crashed in through the windows, and luggage strewn everywhere. I don’t see a front of the plane, but then I remember it flying away in the air. I gasp with reality as I realize I’m all alone.
“DAD! DAD WHERE ARE YOU?” I scram. There is no answer. “ANDREW! MC! GRAYSON!” Again I hear nothing in return. I feel tears starting to pool in my eyes, but then I hear a loud thumping sound. I follow where it’s coming from and sigh with relief when I find Andrew.
“I could get some help over here,” He says. He is wedged between a seat and a part of the plane, so I help move the seat away.
“Thanks,” he says. “Where is everybody else?”
“I don’t know,” I whisper. “I can’t find them.” I see worry glaze over his eyes but he says,
“Then let’s keep looking.” Hours later we have found MC and Grayson, but still no dad. MC was in the actual plane, still strapped in. We had to hold up part of a tree so she could climb out. We found Grayson floating on a piece of wood in the ocean. She was slowly drifting in the water, and eventually washed up on shore. Well that’s what we think. She hasn’t said a word since we found her. I glance over to where she’s sitting and see her staring into nothingness.
“We have to find Dad,” I say.
“I know,” Andrew says. “He has to be on this island somewhere. Let’s split up. Georgia, you come with me to look for dad, and MC you and Grayson look around for supplies. Who knows how long we’ll be here.” I walk through the sand with Andrew, and then up ahead I see a figure lying in the brush.
“Dad! Dad is that you?” There is no response, but I convince myself that he just couldn’t hear me. I run to the man up ahead, and cry with relief when I see that it’s dad.
“Andrew! I found him! He’s-” My voice tapers off when I get closer. There is a huge piece of metal sticking out of his stomach, and his face has a blue tint to it. A wave of dread washes over me and I collapse to the ground.
“DADDY!” I cry. I try to shake him or do CPR or something, but he won’t wake up. Andrew walks up to me and pulls me away. I try to resist, but he puts me on the ground and crouches next to dad.
“He’s still breathing.” Andrew says finally. “Go find the twins and see if they could find any bandages or medicine, okay?” I nod, and minutes later I have returned with the girls and supplies in tow.
“Is there any antiseptic or rubbing alcohol?” Andrew asks. I shake my head and he frowns. “We’ll just have to do this the old fashioned way then.” I hand him the supplies that we could find, and he takes some bandages from the small pile.
“On the count of three, okay?” I nod, even though he seems to be saying it for his own good.
“Okay. One, two, three!” Andrew pulls the piece of metal out of dad, and quickly wraps the bandages tightly around his middle. The bandages are quickly turning red, however, and that doesn’t seem like a good sign.
“Andrew?” I whisper. “Andrew!” I’m louder this time.
“I know, I know.” He snaps back.
“Maybe if we put the gauze on first it would help,” MC says.
“Yes, good idea MC.” Andrew smiles. “Okay, on the count of three again. One, two, three!” In seconds the bandages are removed, gauze is laid on, and new bandages are wrapped tightly around dad.
“Okay, now all we need to do is find some medicine to give him so it will keep infection away.” Andrew says.
“Grayson had the bottle when we came from the plane.” MC replies.
“Hey Gray, do you have the medicine?” Andrew asks. There is no answer. I walk over to where she’s sitting in the sand and I sigh with relief. Grayson is holding onto the medicine bottle for dear life.
“Gray, can we have the medicine bottle now?” She nods and hands the bottle to me with shaking hands.
“I kept it safe for dad,” she whispers.
“I know Gray, now we can save daddy. We can save him this time.” I walk back to Andrew and hand him the bottle. He pours the contents into a cup we found with the supplies, and gives it to dad.
“We did it,” I say, “we really did it.”

I wake up in the minivan and Grayson is kicking me.
“Gosh, you sleep like a rock G. It took me forever to wake you up. We’re at the airport, so let’s go or we’ll be late.”
I jump out of the car and hug dad with all my might.
“I love you daddy,”
“I love you too G,” he chuckles. “Alright gang let’s get going! This is going to be the best vacation yet.”
Somehow, I thought he might be right.


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