**Read the first part here.
Smoke. Smoke. There was smoke everywhere. She heard herself coughing. Loud hacking sounds. She couldn’t open her eyes though. They burned. Like she had been studying all night, from her computer. What happened? And then she remembered. Sola. The plane catching fire. The man who’d lost his head, literally. What was that pain? Burning pain. Of course!, she thought, it had been a fire, she’d been burned, she just wasn’t sure how badly.
”She’s coming to!!” she heard someone say.
Her head throbbed in tune with the voice. She realized she was moving, on a stretcher. She tried to sit up. Bad idea. Her head spun even faster than it already was.
”Don’t try to sit up please.” she heard that same voice say.
She chastised herself silently. She should know better than to try to sit down when she had not even been able to open her eyes. She had survived? Wow. She had already pictured her family crying at her coffin. She could hear someone moaning. She was moaning. Her burns were really hurting and something told her she didn’t want to know what they looked like.
Maryam opened her eyes to bright sunshine which attempted to penetrate the foggy smoke. What time was it? What time had her flight been? She had been in a plane crash, no? She was so confused. And attempting to remember everything was worsening her headache. She felt like that time when she was trying to remember the answers to her parasitology test. She tried to raise her hand to stop her temporal artery from throbbing. She turned her head to the side, immediately regretting as she saw the floral dress of one of the teenage girls she had seen on the plane. It was mangled with the open burn wounds on her skin and she was cry-moaning desperately. Maryam felt a tear prickle her already burning eyes. This was all so surreal. And bad. And sad. Suddenly, she wanted her mother, her father, her brothers and every single member of her family, even her very annoying aunts. She needed to see Ike. What if she had been so burned that he’d never be able to look at her again. She had an insane desire to see a mirror. She contemplated asking the paramedics, but she figured this was not the best time for that.
They were putting her in the ambulance now. She could hear them saying all the things that were wrong with her;
”Second degree burns, concussion, sprained ankle” the man said
She was glad there was no mention of a fracture. She closed her eyes again. She’d continue to close and open her eyes at intervals until the ambulance reached the hospital.
The ambulance ride was uneventful and she was mostly glad she did not have to see any more of her fellow passengers with grotesque injuries. She thought of the pregnant woman who had fainted on the plane and she tried to remember what had happened after she’d passed out. She remembered that her fainting episode hadn’t lasted long. She’d awoken after about two minutes to hear one of the twin boys crying and stuck under his seat. She’d sprained her ankle trying to get him out. She didn’t know how the pregnant woman had ended up. If it was something ugly, she did not want to know. Some medical student she was! When she got to the burn centre, she was admitted immediately. They placed her in a tub and treated her wounds with some solutions and dressed her wounds. They gave her something for the pain of course. The doctor said her burns were not serious second degree burns and she should be thankful. She slipped in and out of sleep. Her sleep was filled with nightmares about the other patients, nightmares which she hoped were not her mind’s way of revisiting memories. They were horrible dreams.
”Maryam, how do you feel today?” She heard her mother ask as she had done everyday for the past month.
”Do you think you’re ready to come home?” she said. Her parents had been notified of her accident a few hours after her admission. They’d gotten a good plastic surgeon to repair the damage, well, what could be repaired. She had finally seen that mirror. And she had never been happier to see her own reflection. It wasn’t perfect. It wasn’t unchanged. But she wasn’t grotesque. And her wounds would heal, in time. She’d seen her boyfriend. He had been terrified of how close he’d come to losing her. He came everyday to visit. He’d been sleeping over the first few nights and she had had to beg him to go to school, it was his final year after all. Kayinsola had come to visit also, before they’d transferred her back to a hospital in Lagos. She’d been in tears, feeling guilty. All thoughts of blaming her had fled Maryam’s mind. She was happy to be alive. To see her family and her impulsive friend. She realized she also owed the Big Man up there a great thank you, because whether or not she liked it, He had saved her. She could be dead like the mother of those twins or be charred remains like the pregnant woman- yes she’d heard- but she was here, struggling with a bit of survivor’s guilt. She was alive. She could see her parents. Hold her niece. Kiss her boyfriend. And get to watch Sola feel guilty. She had never before appreciated life as much she did now. Her world had stopped and started spinning again. Everything was more beautiful and brand new, even the noisy okada riders. She wasn’t sure she’d ever get on a plane again though.
She had just passed her second M.B exams! She was thrilled! Getting back to school after a long absence had been terrible. So much work, so little time. But she’d made it. She’d be Mrs. Ike Nnadi in two weeks. She needed to gain back all the exam weight she’d lost so she’d fit in her dress. Everyday since the accident, she’d look at her only remaining scar, behind her arm and she’d smile. Happy that she had it. Because she’d learned so much from that Catan flight. It wasn’t a happy memory. But, it had made her know God. She appreciated life and love more than ever. She was nicer to people. She appreciated children more. She basically never took anything for granted. There were times when she still felt guilty for being alive. She had met the woman who had been perspiring heavily next to her on the plane and after she hugged her, she’d been pleased to realize that the woman now owned deodorant. They felt bonded by such an experience, but she didn’t think the woman would want to be best friends with a reminder of such a sordid event. Maryam didn’t mind. She was going to be married. To her best friend who’d been with her through it all. She was happy that her world hadn’t stopped at twenty.