i think it will go like this.
i will be doing the crossword puzzle in the back of a magazine, or maybe reading an article, when i start to feel myself moving downward. an almost imperceptible shifting.
soon, my tray table will be latched into the seat in front of me, and i’ll try to stretch my back with my seatbelt still on. i’ll crack one side of my neck, and then the other. i will exhale, but without relief, my chest tight and heartsore.
if i am sitting near the window, perhaps i will screw up enough courage to lean over and look out as we descend. we’ll be over water; every plane that comes into this airport arrives across a small slice of atlantic ocean. the waves will cut and scatter the morning sunlight, and the surface will be moving, always always moving. it will be beautiful and sickening, and as we get closer and closer i will have to turn away.
there is always that moment for me, when i have to look away. when i don’t trust everything that i know to be true, and all i can sense beneath me is the turbulent air, and the frail skin of the sea, and the depths beyond that.
after a few agonizing moments, the edge of the runway will appear alongside my window. solid ground, in the right place, at the right angle – just as it was built to be. in the nick of time, that foundation will materialize, with the runway lights – pale orange and blue in the glare of the sun – perfectly placed, marking space. the plane will touch down with a power that always astonishes me. a slight bounce, graceful even as it brushes up against uncontrollable, and then the winding down, the whirring engines slowing. i will loosen my grip on the armrest, and i’ll breathe the kind of breath that you can’t find anywhere else.
with a thin crackle, the intercom will come to life. the flight attendant, grasping the handset and pressing the talk button, will say, “ladies and gentlemen, welcome to boston.”
and i will be home.