Chapter 1: I'm Alone
“Attention, passengers. We apologize for the delay. We are pleased to inform you that the engine has been fixed. Our departure is now set at 9:15am. So, sit back and relax. The cabin crew will attend to you if you need anything. Thank you.”
The message ended with a beep.
Sighs of relief were heard from the rows and columns of passengers. A faint applause resounded from the back. Everyone was rather joyous that the delay has now been appeased.
I truly wished I felt the same.
The cold air helped in easing the throbbing in my head, but my chest felt worse by the minute. I looked out the window in hopes of a peaceful view, but there was nothing yet to see except for the asphalt ground, thick yellow lines and the emptied baggage cars moving away from the plane.
“Ma’am we’ll be taking off in a few minutes. Is there anything you need?”
I opened my mouth to answer the flight attendant. She was eagerly anticipating what I had to say. I was about to ask her if she could just drop me off the plane once we’re at maximum altitude. But no sarcasm escaped my lips. I couldn’t find a proper answer to such simple question. Is there anything I need?
Nothing. Nothing she could give me.
So, I closed my mouth and shook my head. She smiled and went on her way. But her routine, normal question reminded me of something awful.
“Would you need anything after this?”
I almost hit my head on the window as I heard that voice ringing in my ears. My lip quivered as the memory haunted me again.
I tried hold myself from breaking down. I didn’t want any attention. But my tears didn’t heed my resolve. I started crying.
I still can’t believe where I am right now. I know everything’s my fault. I’ve been foolish and blind. If only I knew that you could end up damned if you loved someone too much.
I’m all alone on a plane, being delivered somewhere like a mere package. I used to ride private jets before all this. Now, I’m sitting on a low budget aircraft that just had an engine failure two hours ago, with a pilot that tells us to sit back and relax regardless.
I hate this.
“Dear, are you alright?” A fragile voice broke me free from my thoughts. It was the lady seated next to me.
“Yes, ma’am. I’m fine.” I lied, clutching my bag.
“Fine?” She repeated in a doubtful tone. Then she touched my face. I felt her soft, warm hand on my cheek, “Your tears say otherwise, dear.”
“I’m really alright.” I smiled, “Thank you for your comfort.”
She slowly pulled her hand away, “Well, whatever made you cry, it’s all going away now. We’re on vacation, darling. Cheer up!”
I chuckled at her enthusiasm, “I really wish it was that easy.”
“Well... if you want, you can tell me? I’m just a stranger after all. There’s no harm in telling an old lady.”
Old lady? What is she talking about? She looks quite young. There were a few signs of aging, like the wrinkles on the corner of her eyes, and the strands of gray on her dark hair. But still, she didn’t look like a day over 50. A healthy and happy 50.
I think she’s the same age as my mother, but she’s not here anymore. Even if she was, there would be no other basis of comparison but their age. My mother would never touch me like this. She was neither sweet nor warm.
“Thank you, ma’am. I appreciate your kindness. But I would feel worse if I burden you with my troubles.”
“Oh, it’s no bother.” She claimed, “I’m trying to make friends. I’m all alone in this flight.”
“Alone? Why? Don’t you have your family with you?”
She smiled, “No. My son booked me this flight. Said we would go on a vacation. He’ll meet me at the airport. But my daughter’s flight isn’t until tomorrow.” —then she let out a sad sigh— “It’s funny, isn’t it? It’s supposed to be a family vacation, but I’m all alone in this plane.”
Ah. She’s all alone too.
I held her hand, “Cheer up, ma’am. We’re on vacation. Whatever it is, it’s going away now.”
Her eyes widened in shock and amusement as I reused her words, “Oh! You’re right. You’re such a smart girl. Thank you for that.”
“Just returning the smile you gave me, ma’am.”
“Oh dear, stop with the ma’am.” She clicked her tongue, “Just call me Pauline, alright?”
I nodded in compliance, “As you wish, Pauline. My name’s Olivia.”
“Oh, what a lovely name.” But she frowned, “A sad face doesn’t suit such a beautiful name. Let me help you.”
But I shook my head, “It would be very nice if you could help me, Pauline. But I don’t think anyone can.”
She stayed frozen in thought for a second before replying, “Well, if I can’t help you, I can listen to you. I’m not forcing you to do anything. Excuse my behavior.”
“No, no. It’s alright.”
She continued, “I’m just speaking from experience. I’ve had my share of problems. Talking about them didn’t solve anything, but it did make me feel lighter. It comforted me... knowing that someone listened to my story and would think about me. That’s what I was hoping to do for you. It’s such a shame to see a young, beautiful lady cry.”
Ah. She’s too sweet and pure. How could I not give in to her wishes? It’s not every day that you meet such a kind stranger.
I let out a breath, “Okay, Pauline. You win. I’ll tell you my sad story.”