Family Memoir



I had been to Denver many times before, and seen all the sites, so when a group of colleagues invited me to go out with them I wasn’t that excited. I decided to stay back at the hotel, and do nothing. I turned on the TV and flipped through all the infomercials, and bad sitcoms, until I stopped on the Titanic. I sketched and absent mindedly watched it while I sketched, and thought about tomorrow’s journey until I drifted out of consciousness.


It was a slow morning, a light waffle breakfast, complements of the hotel, and a cab drive to the airport. Nothing much happened until I boarded the airplane, so I’ll start their.


I stared out the window, at the huge Boeing Triple Seven Airbus as it pulled up to the boarding area. It looked more like a space ship than an airplane purely because of the size; they installed a new jet bridge just to reach the door. A huge crowd approached the counter when they announced “The 9:00 to L.A. has arrived.” with a high and nasal pitch. This crowd would have normally, and should have taken three planes to transport.


Once we had all bored, I was one of the last, I saw how huge the interior was. There were three rows with two isles separating them. The outer rows, by the windows, had three seats in each section. The inner row squished five people in. The section seemed never ending, and this was one of three. When I found my seat I was in the front, with plenty of leg room, but I was in the very middle of the inner isle. I was stuck between a large man wearing a stained blue shirt, and jean shorts. The tall man on my right was dressed in a classy business suit, but his head was bent back over the head of the seat and he was snoring loudly. I tried to figure out how to drown him out, until I was distracted by the thin blond women with large nose, and deep red lips. She began reciting the pre flight instructions in a thick Swedish accent. She sounded board, and like the rest of the passengers in coach, she seemed to have heard them too many times. After she finished her voiced changed to a more excited and slightly louder tone, and she said “Now, just so that you all know, this is our maiden voyage! That means you are the first passengers!” This was exciting to me, but I heard a nervous chatter escalate behind me and a high girlish shriek to my left.


I turned to see where it came from, and the “man” to my left was actually a women. She had one hand clasped to her green face, cover her mouth and the other one was on a rosary. I didn’t understand why she was so scared, but put a damper on my enthusiasm.


The plain lurched forward, rolled back, and began to creep along, slowly accelerating. I guessed that this was due to the sheer size of the plain, and the inexperienced pilot. I pushed all the other thoughts out of my head, and focused on my nothing.


When I woke up it was like being in a whole new place, it was nearly silent. All I heard was the dull rumble of the huge jet engines and clicking of a keyboard. I looked around and most of the other passengers were asleep. The others were either staring out the window or typing on laptops. I looked out the window at peaceful blue sky and the dew from an apparently recent exit from a cloud. I looked to the other window and noticed that this wing was dry, that was odd. I looked back at the other wing, and it was still wet.

I decided to not think about it till later, and I asked the passing flight atendant for a glass of water. She was not the same young woman from before, she was a shorter woman, not tiny though. She had oarngish-red hair, and she was very shy. She ducked her head and swiftly walked to the front of the cabin, and ducked under a curtain. I barley had enough time to get into my small carry-on bag and pull out a yellow note pad before she returned, a small styrofome cup in hand. She whispered “your water sir”, handed it to me, and was gone.


After a while of reviewing the notes on the products I was presenting. I looked back out and saw the same anomaly as before. At this same moment I noticed this, there was a piercing beep, followed by a haggard old voice saying in a defeated sounding voice “We have a leak in our left fuel tank, we are nearing our destination, but we’re going to have to go over the pacific and drain the fuel.” Then I heard a nervous panting, growing from a whisper next to me, this time tears were beginning to well up in the scared woman’s distant eyes. It seemed like her life was flashing through by on an invisible screen in front of her, and she was watching intently. The man to my right seemed too casual; he sat only barley awake, staring at something on the wall in front of us.


The original flight attendant sprinted into the cabin and announced in a serious voice “Please reach over your right shoulder, and grab the seat belt. Insert the clip into the port near your left hip. Please remove all sharp objects, including pens and pencils, from your pockets, and place them in the pocket in front of you or in your luggage.” Many zippers began to unzip, and seatbelts clicked. “When it is announced, please place your head between your knees, and grab your ankles.” When she concluded this sentence, she sprinted behind me, probably to the 1st class cabin.


The plain tilted to the right, a very noticeable change, even in the middle of the giant plane. Out the right window, I saw the same blue sky, with storm clouds this time. Out the left window I saw a clear liquid falling to the beautiful deep blue ocean. We continued in the seemingly tight circle, over the swift shallow breathing of the woman next to me and the same nervous chattering as before behind me, I heard talking on radios button clicks, and an alarm beeping behind the curtain in front of me.


When we pulled out of the circle, a noticeable difference, the scenery outside changed to a bustling city. The flight attendant came over the intercom and said “Please get into the position I described earlier. We skipped the process of flying over the air port and went directly toward the landing strip, at a nearly level angle. We pulled up at the last second, the wheels of the landing gear must have been inches from the ground, but it felt like the body was parallel. Suddenly the plain violently dropped for a short distance. Then we began slowing quickly.


 Once the plane stopped I heard large hydraulic brakes lock the plane in place, and a trio of men wearing yellow vests wheeled a new looking stair case to the door, the co-pilot, a small brawny man came out under the curtain, he walked to the door, turned a large metal latch, and opened the door. One of the men came inside, He was tall, and had a short beard. He immediately said “please orderly exit through this door, and proceed to the entrance you are directed towards. Being the first row I was one of the first off of the plane, right behind the women who had been so terrified before.


Once we were out, and down the stairs, a friendly man pointed out two large doors on the closest building, and asked us to wait in the conference room immediately to the left. Half way to the building, the woman in front of me collapsed. I caught her, and the tall man behind me helped me lay her down. It seemed like no time passed before two paramedics were there with a wheeled stretcher were there. We helped them lift the large woman onto the stretcher, and they immediately wheeled her away. Without a word or any hint of emotion the tall man patted me on the shoulder, and left for the building.


After all the excitement, in the last half hour it was nice to relax in the large room for a while. Once everyone had gotten in the co-pilot, and an older, cleaner cut man who I assumed was the pilot came in. They explained in more detail that they had a fuel leak and had to drain the extra fuel before landing to be safe. They also assured us that the woman who fainted was going to be fine.


As soon as they completed, I turned on my phone, and called my wife. I explained what had happened, and I thought she was going to die from how scarred she was. When I got back home, at the end of the trip, I was bombarded with phone calls making sure I was okay, and asking what happened. There were also some bizarre, and exaggerated phone calls asking things like “why did you have to take your shoes off”, and “did you know the woman that died in your arms?”


I remembered the end of the Titanic, when Jack sank with the boat, and thanked God that it didn’t happen to me.

Published on March 11, 2009 at 6:28 pm  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. I really enjoyed this story! I liked how it made a scary “near death experience” feel light hearted and entertaining! What I would like to see is a revision without the homophone problems (there/their, plain/plane and more), carefully closing quotation marks, and other grammatical issues.

    Great job! Very fun to read!

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