Flight on an Airplane
By Judy Bellomy
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The lines in the terminal stretched as far as I could see.
My arms were breaking with the weight of the bags, purse, books, overnight case, and camcorder; let alone tugging the heavy baggage I packed for Alice and myself.
I glanced over at Alice sitting with her walker close at hand; she was still sobbing, and I couldn’t console her until I finished checking in.
The noise was unbearable with crowds of people yelling back and forth. Someone pushed me from behind making me nearly fall. I teetered back and forth finally getting my balance.
“Excuse me, I’m sorry,” a voice blurted out. Sure, I thought to myself as I edged forward.
It was noon I realized I hadn’t eaten since yesterday. Pangs of hunger were gurgling in my stomach and the smell of pizza filled my nostrils.
I turned just in time to see a man shove what looked like half a pizza in his mouth. He chewed with red grease running down his chin onto his t-shirt that fit tightly over his bulging stomach.
The sight stopped my hunger pangs I spun around glancing at Alice once more. Poor dear, she is so frightened with her first flight.
I could see the service desk close by and cheered to myself.
Yes, finally my turn. My arms are killing me. It is all I can do to lift the bag up.
“Only two traveling today? By now I wanted to tell that ticket agent I had brought my collection of beanie babies and could she please seat us all.
“ Yes, just two,” I said ever so sweetly.
“Would you like window or aisle seats?”
“Just seats. I’ll need a place for a walker, I have a handicapped passenger with me.”
“Will you need assistance?”
“No I can handle that, thank you.”
After twenty minutes of question and answer time she handed me my tickets back informing me the seat numbers were printed on them.
I thanked her, and rushed to Alice.
“I’m sorry that took so long, how are you doing?’
“I’m still scared about this flight.” she said.
“You know mom wouldn’t make me do things I didn’t want to do.”
“Alice, mom passed away three years ago and left me in charge. I am not making this trip for the fun of it. Aunt Rosie passed on and we must attend the wake, or she would not forgive us, you know how she was.”
“Why must we fly?”
“Simply because we have no other choice traveling two-thousand miles.”
Alice didn’t respond just stood up placing her hands on the walker and began pushing its wheels forward her chin set in stiffness.
Too bad she couldn’t help me carry some things, but of course that’s impossible.
Walking down the corridor I sensed the silence that had fallen over Alice and started to feel guilty.
“Would you like to ride on the little car?”
“No, I’m capable of walking.”
“I’m glad you are; I’d ride in a heartbeat myself.”
We reached the terminal area I got Alice settled and dropped all the bags. What a relief, I thought as I shook my arms and stretched my neck and back.
“You must be starved Alice, what would you like?”
“A slice of pizza and a cola.”
The sight of the man with the pizza came to mind and I convinced her to have a sandwich instead. I joined her and realized the food wasn’t too bad as I devoured all of mine.
Observing the people all around lying on the floor dozing, reading, and eating, I wondered where all were going and for what reason. I hoped it wasn’t a sad occasion for them as it was for me.
The announcement to board the plane was made. I knew I would be one of the first with a handicapped passenger. I turned to get Alice and she was again crying.
“You must stop this before you make yourself ill.”
“I don’t want to go,” Alice said in her most childish voice.
I knew she was stubborn but there was a time and place for everything and this wasn’t the time. I helped her to her feet walking her almost to the door; she again stopped dead refusing to board the plane.
She looked frail and fatigued but mostly sad. I hugged her close to me knowing I had to think of some way to convince her to board the plane.
I had given her a sedative as the doctor ordered; it had to start working soon.
Finally I had an idea. I had to deal with her on a childish basis though she was older than me. I knew she had never let go of mom and dad not even for a minute.
“Alice, remember the park we played in as children?”
“Yes, that was my favorite place to go. Daddy would take us even when mom said we couldn’t go. We had lots of fun.”
“We could visit that park tonight if we board the plane, would you like that?”
“We have to get on the plane first.”
“Let’s go, help me on.” She said
I helped her to her seat and gave her the book she had been reading, but before the plane took off she was sound asleep.
I took the book knowing she was content now I put it back in the bag.
My mind began to wander back. Why was Alice different? She was very intelligent.
She was full of wit and humor when she wanted to be. She was not the innocent some thought her to be and she was headstrong, contrary, and stubborn.
The flight was quiet and peaceful and I thanked the good Lord for his mercy not just for me but also for Alice and her fear.
The doctors never diagnosed her “condition.” It had to remain a
mystery to us if it was a mystery to the doctors.
The plane landed I awoke Alice.
She stretched and yawned. Still looking sleepy eyed she turned to me and said; “How long does it take to fly where we going?”
“We’re already there.”
“Plane rides aren’t bad, it’s almost like a dream.”
I helped her from the plane, thought to myself; this one was for real my love.