“Finally!” Mark sat down in his comfy first class seat about three hours after he was scheduled to. His plane had been delayed for weather, and then technical troubles, and then weather again. Just when he had gotten frustrated enough to try and book a hotel room for the night and fly back home the next day, the boarding call for his flight sounded over the loudspeaker. He couldn’t wait to get home. He smiled to himself…home…he never thought he would consider Utah, of all places, home. Hawaii was his birthplace, his actual home and always would be. But right now…she was in Utah, so Utah was home.
Mark yawned and stretched while he waited for take-off. He was getting tired of all the travelling and promotion since winning the show. It had been wonderful to be able to meet his fans from around North America and the tour had been fantastic, but he almost felt like his dancing wasn’t his anymore. From the day the show ended, the travelling had been non-stop. Mark had been able to return to Hawaii for about a week and then he hit the talk show circuit, discussing his win and then tour rehearsals started in LA. Then the month long tour. Now, he needed to get back and just relax and recharge. And to dance…for him…and for her. This last gig was it for a while. He laughed to himself again. He never would have imagined he would be dancing in Times Square on New Years Eve, freezing his ass off while all the drunks partied the New Year in. But what were you going do to? He had to go where they sent him. It was all part of winning.
Winning. Mark thought back to that moment. It had been totally unexpected. He knew he had a good fan base, but he also knew the judges weren’t too keen on him and didn’t really want him there. And to be standing up there in the final two with her. Chelsie. Mark sighed as he pictured the moment in his mind. He'd wanted her to win. He had been willing Cat to call Chelsie’s name as the winner. Her life had been so screwed up; so much different from his, winning would be the best thing for her. She could get away from her family and be on her own. But, much to his shock, Cat had called his name out. Chelsie grabbed him around the waist and looked up, into his eyes. “I knew it!’ she beamed. “I knew from the first time I met you, that you would win.”
Mark had known something from the moment he met the blonde spitfire too. He loved her. Their initial relationship was like brother and sister. She would hit him, make fun of his quirks, tease him about his pinkie fingers – anything to try and rile him up. But slowly, they became closer. His heart had broken when they reached the top ten and they had to change partners. His dancing that week had suffered; he was missing her so much. Her dancing didn’t, but she still agreed to meet him after hours and run-through their routines, standing in for each other’s current partner. Then they would go to the nearest coffee shop and talk for hours over steaming cups of latte and one cinnamon bun that they would pick apart and feed to each other.
“Good times, good times.” Mark yawned again and flipped on his Ipod. He picked the music mix Chelsie had made for him. She’d selected all the songs they’d danced to on the show, plus the ones they had danced to when they were alone. At the time, he teased her about the song she’d put on the CD player the first time they’d gone back to her hotel room.
“You want to dance to this…with me? I’m no Patrick Swayze.”
“No…you’re better. This song means everything to me right now, please dance with me.”
“Isn’t it kind of cheesy?” He’d regretted that the minute he said it, she was younger than him, more impressionable. He shouldn’t have teased her.
Chelsie pouted for a minute. “But this is the time of my life, Mark. I’m dancing every day. I’m learning every day. I’m working with the most amazing people. I met you…”
Her voice trailed off as Mark captured her lips with his.
“Sir, sir, wake up please!”
“Huh?” Mark shook his head, he must have fallen asleep and been dreaming. “Hmmm. I’m awake. I think. What’s the problem?”
“The captain will be making an announcement momentarily, but we need all personal belongings securely stowed away.”
“It’s just an Ipod.” Mark gestured to the small gadget.
“Everything.” The stewardess said firmly and moved to the next traveller.
Mark shrugged and shoved the Ipod into the pocket of his backpack and stood to stow it in the overhead bin. As he did, the plane lurched and knocked him back into his seat. The captain’s voice soundly loudly over the speakers for everyone to fasten their seatbelts and remain seated.
“What the hell?” Mark peered out the window as the plane lurched again, his forehead hit the glass with a dull thud, and he leaned back, firmly buckling his seatbelt.
A brief, staccato burst of white noise came from the planes speakers and then the captain’s voice once more filled the plane.
“Folks, this is an announcement a pilot never wants to make. We are having major instrument troubles up here and with the storm going on outside; we’ve gone way off course. We can’t pick up the tower and nothing is reading properly. To make it plain and simple we are lost in the mountains, with nowhere to land. We are trying our best, but it looks like a crash is imminent. I suggest calling your loved ones, if you can, while you have the chance and prepare with the crash procedures the stewardesses went over at the beginning of the flight.”
The pilot’s voice crackled off and the plane filled with screams. Mark tried to wrap his head around what the pilot had just said. They were going to crash. He wasn’t going to see his family again; he wasn’t going to dance again. He wasn’t going to see Chelsie again. The plane was going to crash and he was going to die. He broke out in a cold sweat and sat motionless, trying to remember all the good things he’d encountered in his life. He didn’t want to think about all the things he’d miss, but he couldn’t stop his mind from drifting to thoughts of Chelsie and marriage and children. He stood slowly, firmly grasping the back of his seat to prevent himself from falling, and scooped his cell phone from his coat pocket. He collapsed back down in the seat, as the place bounced again, and dialled. “Please pick up.” He prayed. “Please pick up.”
Chelsie entered the small apartment she shared with Mark and dumped her dance bag on the sofa. Mark would be home any time now and she wanted to shower and change before she started their special dinner. The last time she’d seen him had been just before Christmas, which really wasn’t that long ago, but she missed him so much, she couldn’t wait for him to get home. “God..not another delay, please. I just want to see him again.” Chelsie pronounced as the phone rang. Mark had already called her several times over the course of the night, filling her in on the delays and on his performance.
“Mark! I just got back from dance class. Did you get another delay? Maybe you should just stay in New…”
“Chels. I just wanna hear your voice, okay? Just talk to me.”
Chelsie settled on the arm of the sofa. Something about his voice didn’t sound right. “Mark…what’s wrong?”
“Oh sweetheart…the plane…shit…can you still hear me?”
“The plane? Mark what’s wrong?” Chelsie let herself slide down the arm to sink into the cushions of the sofa.
“The plane is going to crash. They’ve lost instruments; the weather is wrecking havoc with the signals. We’re in the mountains and we’re gonna crash.”
“Mark! That’s nothing to joke about.”
“Just talk to me Chels. I’ve probably only got time to make one call. I love you..”
Chelsie tried to stop herself from sounding hysterical. “I love you too, but…Mark…you’re joking…right?”
“We’re going down, I can feel the pressure changing.”
“How was dance class?”
“Not now, Mark!”
“Sweetie, I love you, please, just talk to me, keep talking. Tell me about dance class.”
“It…was…fine…fine. Little Kimmy Brubacher partnered up with Richard tonight, they did well.” Her voice was so shaky; she could barely get the words out.
“Good, they’ll make a good pair.”
Chelsie could hear some loud crashes, something that sounded like plates breaking and then screaming.
“The oxygen masks just fell.”
“Oh my God.”
“I think we’re going down.”
“Mark!” Chelsie gripped the phone tightly in her right hand. This couldn’t be happening.
“Hey, I might make it, you never know.”
“Don’t joke, Mark, not now.”
“I love you, I think I have to go now.”
“No Mark, talk to me, please.”
“You don’t need to hear this, it’s gonna be bad enough for you after.”
Chelsie gasped. “Don’t say that.”
“If they find me….”
“No, Mark, don’t talk like that.” Chelsie sobbed.
“Chels, if they find me, there’s something for you in my right pants pocket. I should have given it to you for Christmas, but I didn’t have the guts with your folks there. Hopefully it will still be there.”
“No, no, no.” Chelsie begged. “Tell me this isn’t real.”
“Chelsie, the pilot just warned us to get into crash position. I’m gonna go now. I love you.”
“Mark!” Chelsie screamed into the phone, but all she could hear was static.