Tomato juice – ice, no lemon – and a small sachet of salted snacks. An American movie, Will Smith. Tash asleep in her bassinette on the bulkhead, to the relief of the obese red face in 32H. On a central screen our matchstick plane makes its not-to-scale progress over the Atlantic.
The flimsy film that tears to release the nylon blanket. My fingers tucking it under my loosened belt. The seatbelt signs bright: turbulence ahead. It’s nothing too dramatic; Prim and Prissy are still blocking the aisle.
“Tea, coffee, for you sir? Teacoffee f’you Ma’am?”
Fragments that meant nothing until they became an overture in retrospect.
The light comes first. White hypotenuses slash through every window. As though God Himself had rent the indigo skies. The light opens our mouths, jump starts idling hearts.
Just one brief knock, a rap on metal, then we are dropping. The rays of light extinguished.
A gasp. Is it my own? Through the monochrome of flashing stars where clarity used to be, I reach forward blindly for Tash. I have to touch her now. My bones, my flesh could save her yet.
I am jolted back against my seat and then…
Then nothing. The engines’ drone fills the vacuum where the screams should be. Four hundred passengers caught in cognisant limbo. Our fear held in the balance.
Tash’s face is wet with tomato juice. Her cry is the first to puncture the silence. Permission to exhale.