Hurtling though the air at 120 miles an hour was the last thing on my list of fun. But there I was, sitting in a red and silver Cessna, doing exactly that. What’s worse was that I was pretending to like it, even though I was terrified of heights. I couldn’t handle looking out of a window on the fourth floor, much less get in a contraption that would take me 8,000 feet in the air.
But somehow, I managed to keep my breakfast inside me during take-off, all while maintaining a brilliant smile that said I was enjoying this just as much as the boy sitting next to me in the pilot seat. Now that we were in the air, I made sure to look straight ahead at the baby-blue sky, or at the many gauges that filled the dashboard. Anywhere but down.
I realized that my hands were bawled into fists, and quickly unclenched them before they were noticed. I took five deep breaths, glad for the engine’s ferocious growl that drowned them out. Just breathe. Breathe and remember why you are here.
My eyes wandered to the blond-haired, green-eyed boy genius sitting next to me. How many seventeen year olds had a pilot’s license? Only one that I knew of. Corey Williams. He was as smart as he was good looking. I’d had a crush on him since last year, but he never noticed the girl with stringy, mud-colored hair and glasses, and I had no reason to think he ever would. Well, until I was assigned a paper on World War II airplanes. I thanked my lucky stars that I was nerdy enough to go to the flight museum instead of googling some stuff like a normal high schooler.
There he was, standing next to a plane as yellow as his hair. All I had to do was ask him what he knew about old planes and pretend to listen while his glittering green eyes distracted me. The rest was easy. I was good at research and memorizing facts. Overnight, I became an aerospace expert, and Corey’s newest friend.
Everything was going great, until he told me he got his pilot’s license and wanted to take me for a ride. Now, here I was, praying that the motion sickness pill I’d swallowed that morning would magically turn me into a fighter-pilot who doesn’t know what the words “afraid of heights” meant.
“Look over there,” came Corey’s voice through my headset. He gestured to something outside my window. I swallowed and let my eyes look in the forbidden direction of down. Everything was so small it was making my head dizzy. The land below blurred and my stomach lurched. This was it. I was going to blow my romantic ride by hurling breakfast at the glass in front of me.
I closed my eyes and breathed in through my nose telling myself not to give up that easily. This year I would have someone to send me chocolates on Valentines, and daises on my birthday. And I was going to junior prom. I was pretty sure he was close to asking me on a date. All I had to do was keep my cool for one plane ride. The nausea eased and I turned to Corey, glad that he hadn’t seen me close my eyes because my head was turned.
“Breathtaking,” I said into the mic on my headset. Literally.
“I’ll show you something breathtaking.” He grinned and brought the nose of the plane up so we were climbing higher into the blue abyss. My stomach tightened. That’s all I needed—more space between me and the ground. I was clenching my fists again, but I didn’t stop myself this time. I could tell him that we’d gone high enough, but I knew if I said anything my voice would squeak. It was best to stay quiet and think of prom dresses and chocolates.
“Now the fun part,” he said, and before I knew what was happening the plane was falling out of the sky. My stomach dropped like a ninety-pound weight in a skinny nerd’s arms and I gripped the bottom of my seat until I couldn’t feel my fingers. The plane was shaking and the things on the ground were growing larger.
I. Was. Going. To. Die.
Then the plane leveled out. Corey brought the plane back to a normal speed and looked at me.
“Wasn’t that great?” The grin came off his face. “Are you alright?”
Alright? All the blood in my face seemed to have disappeared. My jaw ached from clenching it so hard. And I was pretty sure my fingers were permanently attached to the seat.
I shrugged. My shoulders were the only part of me that seemed to be working.
“Are your ears popping? We were changing altitudes pretty fast there.”
You think? Every drop in altitude was a scene of my life passing in front me. But you know what? It’s ok. Because I made it. My stomach was still a little queasy, but I just went through the scariest moment life could give me, and I didn’t even scream.
I just faced a life-threatening situation and still looked so calm that Corey thought it was just my ears popping. Getting Corey to ask me to the prom would be no big deal.
I turned to Corey and started to tell him that I was feeling great, but that’s not what came out of my mouth. My stomach heaved at the last second and something warm spewed out in slow motion. I put my hand over my mouth a moment too late, and tried to blink away the sight in front of me. Corey was wearing my breakfast.
I guess I’ll be taking that prom dress back.
I wrote this for Wow 555. Check it out and don’t forget to vote. 🙂