Sophie sat in the hard backed, plastic chairs of the airport, nervously checking her phone for the time. 10:32. Only 15 more minutes until boarding began. She couldn’t shake a feeling of premonition, but knew her anxiety and fear of planes could be making that a great deal worse. She tapped her feet and turned to her sister. “Libby, I really hate flying, no matter how safe you say we will be. Yeah, thousands upon thousands of planes are in the air everyday but we are 40,000 feet in the air. What if we hit an air pocket?” Sophie turned to her bag and shifted through it, popping a piece of gum in her mouth, and chewed it ferociously. She quickly stood, paced in front of her chair for a few minutes, then clunked back down on her chair.
“For fuck’s sake, we are going over the Bermuda triangle. That location has been ridden with downed planes, destroyed ships, and people never to return. They haven’t even found the wreckage of half of those planes, or ships. We are flying right over! What IF something happens? What if we we are that one plane out of a million?” Sophie wrung her hands and grew angry at her sister’s annoyed face.
“Sophie, nothing will happen. This happens every time you fly. You sit here and are anxious but guess what? Everything is fine each time. Now you’re just being annoying.” Libby turned to her phone, texting away.
Sophie huffed and stood up, pacing. She heard the overhead speaker relay, “Flight 1308, boarding now. First class may now board.” Sophie smoothed her crumpled boarding pass as she watched the gaggle of people move forward. The mothers with their babies soothing them, the businessmen chatting away on their phones, college girls ready for vacation giggling in groups, all such different walks of life. Sophie had a pang of loneliness, waiting in line while her sister paid her no attention. Sophie always felt like something was missing from her life. A hidden puzzle piece, a sense of restlessness. She joined groups, kept herself busy, went on vacations and no matter what she did, deep down, something felt... wrong. Sophie yearned to be somewhere she was understood, and her soul called out to be appreciated.
Sophie was nudged by her sister as the group around her started to move.
"Now boarding Group D. Please give your boarding pass to the attendants.”
Sophie smoothed her crumpled boarding pass again before handing it to the sickly sweet, smiling attendant.
She followed her sister, up into the plane, and finding their seats they sat, side by side. Sophie listened with one ear to her sister chatting about her newest boyfriend, and recent parties, who got wasted, who slept with who, and meaningless gossip. All the while wishing she wasn't on the plane, and on solid ground, instead.
"Anyway, I'm going to sleep while we fly. Wake me if you need me." With that, Sophie watched as Libby buckled her seatbelt and drifted off to sleep.
Sophie followed the directions of the flight attendant to buckle her seatbelt, and her stomach lurched as she felt and heard the roar of the engines starting. Clenching the armrests her knuckles turned white, and Sophie grit her teeth, and the plane moved forward. She felt the power of the engine as the plane took off and the force of it, pulling her back in her seat.
Sophie trembled slightly, attempting to stop, but unable to. She was embarrassed at her own reaction, that she was so nervous but everyone else seemed so calm. Rising rapidly in the air made her stomach drop and her ears pop as the pressure fluctuated. Just keep calm, keep calm, you're okay, you're okay. Plenty of people fly each year and they're fine. She repeated those words of assurance to herself, a mantra of sorts.
After the plane leveled out, Sophie relaxed, easing back from her earlier rigid posture. She took her tablet out, and turned to the movie she downloaded. Recommended by a forum online, Sophie purchased it a few hours earlier, noting how everyone commenting said it would truly immerse you and make you feel as if you belonged. Lord of the Rings... so we know there is a ring. OOOOOOO elves! Men! Dwarves! Sophie liked the beginning already. She cracked her back half-way through the movie, then again at the end, feeling the ache of sitting in one position without moving. So good. Man, I wish I had discovered this earlier. Sophie exited out of the app, turning on her mind numbing games, to pass more time. Slowly her head nodded forward, and her grip on the tablet loosened and her hands relaxed in light sleep.
A shift in the plane woke Sophie from her snooze as the overhead speaker in bland tones crackled out, “The pilot has turned the seatbelt light on. Please put your seatbelt on, we are encountering slight turbulence.” Sophie fortunately kept her seatbelt on the entire time, due to her worries and need to keep safe.
The plane began shaking, and wavering. That lasted for a few minutes, the silence on the plane was oppressive. It stopped for a bit, before a large popping noise drew screams and curses from the fliers. Sophie could hear her sister starting to get scared and curse under her breath, just having woke up a few minutes ago. She felt her sister grab her hand, which in itself was rare because Libby only shared her affection with either her boyfriend or friends. They clenched and squeezed their hands, drawing comfort from one another.
The plane dropped making other passengers scream in fear and terror. A smell of smoke and acid drifted in the cabin, choking and thick. Sophie choked on the smoke and could see through the haze that people were having the same reactions as she was.
The pilot’s voice crackled through the smoke, “This is the pilot speaking. Prepare for crash position.”
The plane began to descend rapidly, throwing Sophie back in her seat. She heard crashes behind her, and she assumed most likely it was people who refused to buckle. Oxygen masks dropped down, and Sophie grabbed at hers with shaking hands. She sucked in the sweet, clear oxygen as others beside her passed out. Alarms began to blare overhead, the screeching dulled as Sophie’s heart beat a symphony in her chest. She dared a quick glance at her sister, who was slumped over, cell phone clutched in her hand.
Overhead compartments popped open as the plane tilted on its right side. As the plane began a freefall and others tucked their head between their knees and hands over their head, Sophie was attempting to follow suit when a heavy, hard, carry on suitcase flew off the rack and slammed into Sophie’s right temple. Her head erupted in sharp, gnawing pain. It was focused on the front of her head but with that falling of the airplane, the pressure increased, making her feel as if her head weighed 150 pounds. The space behind her eyes began to ache and warm liquid dripped down her head, onto her jeans.
The world around her dimmed as she faintly heard the screaming around her and the jarring impact of the plane hitting something before she passed out, and the environment around her grew dark
The oddest thing was she could hear whispers around her, unlike the screaming earlier. They seemed melodic and beautiful. Voices that floated through the air, leaving golden, wispy trails in their wake.
Sophie felt like she was floating on her back, drifting on nothing. She felt comforted, protected, and oddly enough, warm. She tried to open her eyes, but saw nothing until the darkness lightened to reveal a heavenly aura. A man -- no, a being was more like it. Not defined as male or female, with long, ashen white hair. The hair was almost silver in color, not the color of age as Sophie was used to. The face was ethereal, and serene, ageless. His eyes were what caught and held Sophie’s attention. They were bottomless pale amber pits of all knowing and all encompassing wisdom, and she was in awe. Who is this? If I could say just like God, I would.
The being spoke, surprising Sophie. “Greetings, Edain Sophie. You have stumbled on this realm, uninvited. I have known souls such as yours, and none have shone to me like yours. You are lonely. Your fea is dying, in the world of men. I have been granted the request of your fea, and a new life, for you. You were never meant for this world, little one. I shall place you in our world, child, but it is up to you to weave your song in Eru Illuvutar’s making.”
A small gazebo sat a few yards away from where they were, the designs twisting like branches on a tree, the wood a light grey. She sat on soft, spring green grass, soft as moss. The ground was pleasantly lukewarm, free of twigs or stones. Trees surrounded the small glade, the colors of the leaves sharp and similar to the grass. She could hear a small stream to her back, the gurgling unmistakable. Sophie zoomed back to the conversation, and this being.
World? What world? I mean, it's true I feel depressed, and lonely, but I don't want to leave Mom, Dad, or Libby. “I don't understand what you mean, sir. Another world? I just want to go home! Who are you? Where am I?” Sophie finished her speech, closing her eyes tightly. She flinched as a cool hand pressed against her forehead.
“You will find what you need, child. As for I, you may know me as Ohan. I am the deliverer for the veil between your world and ours. I will be your guide, for this world; you will be quite confused and disoriented when you awake. Do not fear; you will not be alone. Now, sleep. Watch for the flower.”
Flower? What flower? Before Sophie could voice her thoughts, Ohan laid a hand over eyes, and Sophie slept.