by Shawn English
It’s interesting to think that in 1903, two brothers from the Mid-west would give man the ability to rule the sky. At that moment though, they could not have imagined, as some of us are still in disbelief now, that only a hundred and twenty years later we would be horrifically put back in our place.
I woke up this morning feeling even weaker than the days before. I’m not sure how many tears the human body can produce on a regular basis, but surely I will run out sometime. These days I feel like a prisoner in my own home, trapped and beaten down by the prevailing silence, when there use to be voices talking and laughing everywhere.
It’s fitting that the morning clouds are dark and promising rain, as I slowly force myself to get ready for the mass memorial service downtown. Hell, I haven’t left the house in two weeks, not since their funerals. I suppose it’s about time to get back out in the world. All the media coverage of the event doesn’t seem to help. If anything, it just makes me more upset the way they seem to keep finding new ways to bring it up and talk about it.
It was June 9th, the last time I had peace. I remember waking up that morning to hearing my wife Sheryl and our daughter Lucy talking downstairs. From the aroma that sifted through the house, I could tell that my ladies where making pancakes, bacon, and coffee stronger than I could take. That got me right out of bed.
As I came into the kitchen I saw they were both dressed and had suitcases already by the door. Lucy was the most punctual twelve year old I had ever met, mostly because she couldn’t wait to get wherever she was going. On this day it was supposed to be a cheer-leading competition in California, which only fueled the eagerness more. I’ve been told that California is a little more exciting for the young at heart than the plains of Wyoming.
Every time I think of that morning, I try to find something, some sign, or hidden message, that could have lead to things going differently. Lucy use to love dragons, she would talk about them for days. Her room was filled with posters and movies everywhere. I’ve heard that you should never meet your idols. I never dreamed it would be a concern of hers.
I drove through some scattered showers as people made their way to work. Everyone was back to weaving in and out of traffic and honking their horns at one another. I didn’t even notice anyone acknowledge the shadows moving above the clouds each time the lightning struck. It seems like every time there is some great tragedy, people can only sympathize for so long before old habits return. All part of trying to move on, I suppose. I took the exit marked for the airport.
The last time I was here, turned out to be the last time I would see either of them smile. I pulled up to the departure gate, and Lucy was begging me walk with them to security. She and Sheryl had just finished an amusing karaoke version of some pop song I didn’t know, and were laughing as the car came to a stop. “Dad, please walk in with us. Please?”
“Sorry, honey. I’ve been called in early. I’ll be there when you get back though.”
Just like that I helped them unpack their bags, and they walked away for the last time.
When I arrived at the airport for the memorial, I saw a sea of umbrellas of various colors and sizes looming over those attending. In front of the crowd stood a large black scale model of the plane, made out of black marble, with the names of the victims engraved in silver on the wings. It stood on it tail end as if flying up toward Heaven, I also couldn’t help but notice the resemblance to the cross, but that wasn’t quite as irksome as what appeared to be the base of an eternal flame at the base. I’m guessing it didn’t occur to anyone how inappropriate that was until the last minute.
The various news crews that came to cover the event all began to clamor about, when from out of the main entrance of the airport came Mayor Joseph Green, a man who in my opinion was preying on families of the victims to fuel his upcoming re-election. He came out to the podium and gave everyone a smile and a wave before removing his white straw cowboy hat that he is rarely seen without. “Thank you all for coming. Today is a day for remembering those that were lost, when the impossible became a very real part of our lives. They say that time heals all things.”
The more he spoke, the more I began to question what I was really doing here. Was I here to pay my respects to the other lives lost that day, or just making an appearance to seem as though I haven’t completely gone to Hell? Then I watched as the mayor, an official elected by our community, pandered to the media as though he could relate to what we were going through.
I don’t remember picking up the rock, or throwing it. I do remember the look on his face when it hit, and the lights from the cameras spinning around and focusing on me. Maybe that’ll give them something else to show instead of the same video they have been.
Shortly after the incident, videos started showing up on social media. Videos from the passengers on that flight. Eventually, someone was able to piece enough of these videos together to get a sense of what happened.
Unlike some movie where everyone is happy in the beginning, because airplanes won’t let you post the happy moments, but the final moments, who cares? The video begins with people screaming, and panic on every face in view. Then it cuts to a shot of the wing on fire, but not from an engine or anything mechanical, because it’s a strong constant stream of fire. Masks begin falling from above the passengers, people are climbing over each other. Some trying to get to a window, others trying to get away. There’s a loud sound that could only be described as a roar outside the plane. Then through all the chaos are a man and woman with their heads bowed praying. I’ve never been overly religious, if I had then maybe the next few seconds of that video wouldn’t have been so bad. Before the couple can say their “amens” something pierces the side of the plane. It was a yellowish-white like ivory, and long deep scratches all around it. The impact knocked the person holding the camera out of their seat, and it focused on a terrified twelve year old girl and her mother. When the claw came out, it left a large hole in the side of the plane, and my family, the camera, it’s owner, and several other went with it.
Mythological beasts came out of nowhere and took my family away from me, and time was going to heal that? Once the police hauled me off and kept me in custody until the mayor got checked out by medics, and said that he wasn’t willing to press charges. I reckon it’s hard to get re-elected after locking up a grieving father.
As for the current situation with the dragons, the government has grounded all aviation vehicles until further notice. Livestock all around the world has come up missing. Only at night. They seem to be avoiding heavily populated areas. Scientists are going crazy wanting to do all sorts of tests, and everyone keeps saying what a historical time this is. Every parent would like their kid to make history, but not like this.