“I’m telling you, there’s no way I’m going on a plane…there’ve been too many accidents in the news…I mean, reported by the news and, and…I just hate the things and that’s that!”
Geraldine looked at her husband and sighed. She was sure Frank had gotten over this fear but clearly not. All the recent high-profile rash of reported crashes had obviously set it off again. He stood in front of her, rigid with pig-headed determination and stubbornness, hands clenched into impotent fists at his side; a five-year-old child in a forty-five-year-old man’s body. Even his thinning hair stood up indignantly. She sighed again and held up her own hands in surrender.
“Okay, okay…we’ll take the ferry across. Anything for peace and quiet.”
He deflated visibly, a tire with the air let out.
Geraldine swiveled back around to the laptop in order to make the necessary arrangements while Frank collapsed onto the sofa, TV already tuned to the news.
It wasn’t so bad here, after all.
They stood together at the railing as the ferry plowed its way through the black water. A light breeze carried the salt spray up to them, showering Geraldine’s face with a haze of droplets. She blinked her eyes against the cold, refreshing spray.
Even Frank seemed in good spirits and she supposed his subtly smug sense of victory was a small price to pay. It wasn’t just that he had a fear of flying, exacerbated by all the admittedly unusually high number of recent reports of plane crashes and disappearances; he also had claustrophobia that ensured he was a nightmare passenger to sit beside for any length of time in a small, enclosed space.
She looked down and smiled as she felt his hand slide over hers. He rubbed the top of her thumb with his own stubby digit. Just below the knuckle, there was a faint scar, a souvenir from their pre-marriage days when he had carved their names into a tree and the blade slipped. It was a memory she hadn’t thought of in a long time. She smiled again but felt only deep melancholy fill her heart like sludge. Back then, he had seemed so fearless, willing to do anything to impress her. When had they become lost in this doddering life, abandoning careless youth for middle-aged apathy? She couldn’t see the transition. It was as if they had been one set of people and then suddenly, irrevocably transformed into their current incarnation with no visible or traceable transition.
Geraldine swallowed a lump of bitterness and hoped the sea spray would hide any tears.
“I don’t…I don’t believe it.” Frank’s quiet, portent-filled voice brought her back, and only then did she realize his hand had left hers. She looked up to where it pointed into the sky and saw a large plane not too far off their side of the boat and banking slowly in their direction; its left side engine trailed a billowing cloud of black smoke and flame and the current trajectory ensured it wouldn’t pass them by.
Geraldine closed her eyes.
“Oh…for fuck’s sake, Frank…”
Paul M. Feeney is 39 years old (and clinging on desperately, despite the looming 40) and was born in Scotland. Having migrated and lived all over the UK and Ireland, he is now currently settled in the northeast of England. An avid and passionate fiction reader—his first love being horror and all things dark—he has recently turned his hand to writing with one short story currently in publication and several others due throughout 2015. He also has a horror novella due through a respected small press in late 2015 and is hard at work on the dreaded first novel.
Lead image: “going down” (via Flickr user motograf)