When Her World Stopped
Hey guys! So, here is my first short story. Very short story, I might add. I hope you like it. :
Maryam was knocked out of her nap by the announcement ”This is the captain, brace for impact!” It took about two seconds for her to realize that the Catan Airlines plane she had boarded thirty minutes ago was about to make an emergency landing. At least that was what she hoped. She tried to open her eyes to understand fully the change in her surroundings. Complete chaos. She could hear the rambunctious twin boys behind her crying and clinging to their mother. The aggressive man who had been ogling her when she boarded the plane was now shouting at the top of his voice. The two girls whom she’d assumed were students who had been giggling non stop throughout the plane ride were now panicked and crying. She heard two women across the aisle praying loudly, in that loud way that was common to Pentecostal ”prayer warriors”. One of them had removed her wig somehow and her curly gray hair was in full view. Maryam observed all of these in less than ten seconds and it was enough to completely remove that feeling of disorientation she’d felt when she woke up. She was wide awake now. And she was in a state of complete terror.
She lived in Lagos with her parents. She was their last daughter. She had a sister and two brothers who were twins and she was the last child. She had recently become an aunt to her sister’s new baby girl and she was in her second year in a medical university. She wanted to be a surgeon. Everyone told her she looked exactly like her mother. Her mother always joked that the was the mistake child, the one who came ten years after her brothers. She was loved and everyone pampered her. Being the youngest also meant that everyone had a right to scold her as well and she had to call all her older siblings ”brother” or ”sister” in true African fashion. She had just met this boy whom she really liked. Finally, at twenty, she felt like she had met ”the one”. He loved her, he could be silly with her, they shared everything, encouraged each other. He was going to be a doctor soon. He was already in his final year in school and soon he would have a steady job and they could be married after her second M.B exams. She was excited about life like she had never been before. Maryam always heard people say that when a person was about to die, their life would flash before their eyes. Was this what they meant?
The aggressive man with the beer induced pregnancy was shrieking like a woman now. Maryam thought he might cry soon. She felt numb. Like she was in a trance. Unable to move. Paralyzed by the thought that she would never see all those she loved again. She struggled to remember ; had she told her mum how much she loved her recently? All she remembered was all the arguments they’d had recently about irrelevant things like how much time she spent at Ike’s parent’s instead of studying or helping out at home. She remembered that she did not even tell Ike she was traveling today. She planned to call him on her way to the airport, but she’d been too busy arguing with the taxi driver who had decided to change his mind about the taxi fare halfway to the airport. At that moment she cursed Kayinsola her best friend who had called her that day begging her to fly to Abuja for some impromptu party her family was having. The story had sounded very shady, but Maryam had been on board because Sola was always fun to hang out with and it was a public holiday and she needed some R&R and Ike was visiting his family in Enugu. It had seemed almost like the universe wanted her to follow Sola. Damn the universe, she thought now.
”Please place your head on your knees”, the stewardess was saying in an eerily calm way. By that time everyone was praying like a Pentecostal and Maryam could swear she had heard the Alhaji next to her say ”Jesus save me!” somewhere in the chaos. In the midst of it all, she had an insane urge to laugh out loud. This couldn’t be real. It must be a dream, she thought. She wanted to pray, but she couldn’t get her lips to move. They felt sealed. She tried to say a prayer in her heart and she just felt like a hypocrite. She NEVER prayed. Never thanked God. Or asked him anything. Wouldn’t he be offended by sudden desire to talk to him? She felt her lower jaw slam into to maxilla and she could taste blood. Great! She was going to dismember her body on her own even before the plane crashed. She could smell the perspiring armpits of the woman sitting next to her. She could also hear that a pregnant woman on the plane had just fainted. Lucky her, she thought. At least she won’t get to be burned alive or be lost in some jungle with wild animals. She suddenly thought of her favorite series Lost and what an irony it was that she was going to die in its reenactment.
In the last minutes before the plane hit the ground, she felt hysteria. Panic was closing her throat and try as she did, she couldn’t scream. She felt like she couldn’t breathe and the perspiring woman kept asking ”Are you asthmatic??” She just kept her head between her knees. Her brother had asthma. Her twin brothers, they had protected her from everything. Except this. No one could save her. She was going to die. And they’d never find her body. She’d be involuntarily cremated. She shuddered at the thought. She saw the aggressive man’s head fly forward from the impact of hitting the ground. Everyone screamed and there was some more binding and casting. Apparently he hadn’t put his head on his knees. As soon as the plane hit the ground, everyone scrambled to the exits, forgetting that the plane had to stop first. People struggling to unbuckle their seat-belts. To her, everything seemed to be moving in slow motion. The stewardesses tried to calm everyone down ”please we have to wait until the landing is complete”, they were saying. That was when she saw the yellow lights near the window in front. The wheels of the plane had caught fire.
All the chaos she thought she’d experienced multiplied a thousand times and she feared all the people struggling might actually cause the plane to disintegrate like Samson pushing against those pillars in that book she’d read as a child. Her thoughts were no longer sufficient to block out all the noise and shoving. She had begun to accept the fact that she might actually die. So she decided she would text her mom and tell her she loved her. Now she just had to get her phone out of her bag. Where was her bag anyway? She was sure it was under the seat in front of her. Now she remembered she had zealously put it in the overhead carriage, all thanks to the stewardess with the bright orange lipstick. The plane’s screeching was getting louder now and it was hotter in there. She couldn’t hear most of the children screaming anymore and she felt like she was getting enveloped by some kind of peaceful blackness. She wasn’t sure if she was fainting or dying. The last thing she remembered was thinking that she didn’t even get to cry about dying at twenty.
***See how the story ends. Part 2