Carol Kehlmeier


“Grandma, why are you so pale?” Six-year-old Emily asked as the jet roared upward toward the clouds.
My palms were wet, my throat dry and my knuckles white as I clutched the arms of the seat.
Emily relaxed and looked out the window to observe Earth growing smaller. “Look how little the houses are,” she said, excited about her first flight.
My ears closed. I swallowed.
“Can you see Westerville?” Emily asked.
My eyes shut, I took a deep breath and sighed.
“Where’s Clintonville? I wanna see my house.” Her forehead was against the window.
“It‘s down there.” My voice trembled.
“Why don’t you help me find my house?”
I swallowed hard. I didn’t want to scoot over and look out the window, I might tip the plane.
I felt the plane level off and opened my eyes. The pretty flight attendant was giving her little speech on how to get out of the plane in case of an emergency.
She smiled and her voice was cheerful as she pointed to the emergency door.
“We step onto a cloud?” I asked beneath my breath.
“You’re funny, Grandma,” Emily said, giggling as she unfastened her seat belt.
“And the seats become floating devices,” the attendant was saying.
I thought.
I continued to sit stiff, my seatbelt snug as I clutched the arms of the seat in a death hold.
“Would you like coffee? Or a soft drink?” The flight attendant stood above me.
“No thank you,” I said. How could I hold on to the arms of the seat and drink a cup of coffee?
“You think we could see an angel?” Emily asked, looking out the window.
“I hope not!” I believe seeing angels is for the next life.
The attendant noticed my seatbelt was still fastened. She smiled, raised her eyebrows and gave a shrug to another attendant.
The plane shudderd.
“We’re experiencing a little weather,” the pilot’s voice came from the speaker. “Please remain in your seats, seatbelts fastened.”
I smiled smugly at the attendant as she returned to her station.
“This is fun,” Emily said. “Just like a carnival ride.”
It was only a short time and the plane ride became smooth once more.
“Feel free to move around. We’ve passed over the weather,” the pilot announced.
“Peanuts?” The attendant was standing over me again.
I carefully reached up for the tiny package. “Thanks.”
Emily was munching on her peanuts. “They’re good. I’ll eat’m if you don’t want’m.”
I slid them toward her.
There were happy conversations all around the plane.< Don’t they know how far we are from the ground? Don’t they know one wrong move and we’re doomed?>
Emily continued chatting happily and looking out the window.
“Fasten your seatbelts and prepare for landing.” The pilot’s voice again.
“Weeee!” Emily said as we began to descend. “Everything’s getting closer. Isn’t this fun?”
I closed my eyes and breathed a deep prayerful sigh.
“And we get to fly home, too!” She shouted happily.
What ever was wrong with trains? I wondered, clutching the arms of the seat.
the end