Jesse dug her fingernails into the armrests. Only after a few seconds did she realize that on one side she was accidentally digging into the fingers of the man in the window seat. She quickly moved her hand, and yelped out a ‘Sorry’.
The man turned to her and smiled, a calm gentle smile, a smile that did not fit with the violent turbulence rocking the plane. “It’s quite alright.” His voice was so soft and serene. It immediately calmed her down.
"I’ve just never been on a flight with turbulence like this before." She was imploring him for more comfort, she wanted him to tell her that everything was going to be fine. If he told her that she would be fine, she would believe him.
But he looked around the plane and said, “Yes, this is far worse than any turbulence I’ve experienced either.” She felt her stomach tighten as he said that, she had been counting on comfort from this man more than she realized, and the matter-of-fact tone which he had said that had stripped it from her.
"I hope we’ll all be alright," she said. He had moved his hand from the armrest, so she quickly gripped it again, her knuckles were white from the strain.
"It does not seem likely," he said, still looking around the plane.
"What?" the knot in her stomach was moving up to her throat.
"If you look around the plane you can see that we are definitely tilted at a downwards angle. This means that the plane is likely losing altitude. The only reason I could think for this to occur is some sort of engine failure, and given that we are currently travelling above the Himalayas, a safe emergency landing seems unlikely."
"What are you-" was all Jesse could manage before a loud explosion rocked the cabin. She couldn’t see where it came from, but the plane immediately started to plummet. The oxygen mask came down and Jesse desperately fumbled with it to fix it to her face. She finally attached it and looked at the man next to her. To her surprise he had not put on his mask, more so he did not look worried at all. In fact, he looked her in the eyes, and smiled. That same serene smile that was so out of place. He slowly placed his hand on top of hers, the gentle pressure of his hand was so comforting. She locked eyes with him. She needed him to tell her she wasn’t going to die. She needed him to tell her she was going to be alright. "Please sir, I don’t want to die here. I want to go back home. I want to see my parents again. I want to see my boyfriend. I want to see my cat. I don’t want to die. Please, tell me I’ll be fine."
He broke eye contact with her for just a second and frowned. “You will be fine.” He spoke the words and a wave of relief washed over her. She let go of the arm rest and gripped his hand as hard as she could. He still just held hers with the gentlest amount of pressure. “Death is not the tragedy that the living fear it will be. It is merely the next step on a very long journey.”
"What do you mean?"
He looked out the window, the mountains were rapidly rising up to meet them. He turned to her placing his other hand underneath hers, and held it firmly. “I mean, you will never know how much I envy you.”