This Isn’t Just Turbulence

Sunday Photo Fiction.

“This isn’t just turbulence.”

As she said this, the plane shuddered as though struck, jolted sharply upward.

Her Bloody Mary shot from its plastic cup and drenched my shirt and lap.

She closed her eyes and began to scream.

The plane shook with sudden violence, then settled into a rattling vibration as it began its dive.

I focused on my SkyMall magazine, which had miraculously avoided wetting.

Miracles happen.

The page lay open to a photo of a pewter dragon ornament.

In red ballpoint, some past traveler of this discount airline had scrawled


The engines’ rumble grew to a howl, the roar melding with the screams of the passengers to make a single enormous noise.

The woman next to me sobbed and clawed at the seat ahead of her.

The oxygen masks dropped, flimsy plastic cups like those used for margarine attached to thin nylon tubes.

The masks flopped in our faces.

I grabbed mine and inhaled deeply, remembering a scene in some movie where a character had noted that oxygen gets you high.

I looked back to the pewter dragon.

He seemed to be saying something.

I am the last thing you will ever read.

I scanned the panicked passengers around me, probed their faces for some sign of familiarity.

I did not want to die among strangers.


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