The plane was full, and Ally despised it.
There was a lot to hate about planes and flights. She hated the lines at every step, from the counter, to security, to entering the plane. It was all endless people here and there, waiting. She hated rushing from one side of the airport to the other, her heart hammering while she hurled a carry-on probably too heavy for normal standards. She hated the sounds and the rush.
But what she definitely despised about flying was getting into a metal thing, praying it wouldn’t crash. It was like dooming oneself to death.
It wasn’t an irrational fear. Sure, she had never been in a plane crash or accident, or anything similar or close to it. But planes crashed plenty of times, you could see it on the news. Not too frequent to be considered a dangerous activity but enough to create fear within her.
What could she do to save her life while she was flying over 15,000 feet below ground? Nothing. Only to resign to her impending death. It could hurt or—if she was lucky enough—she would have a heart attack as the plane sank into catastrophe.
Flying wasn’t good for her health, physically and mentally. Throughout the entire flight, she would imagine different catastrophic scenarios. While taxing, the tail of the plane would hit the ground and fall off. While landing, the wheels of the plane wouldn’t work, or the pilot was an idiot and angled the plane in such a way that the cock would collide with the ground.
Oh, and while flying, one swing could indicate the inability of the plane to fly and pummel down. Two planes could collide as one was covered by clouds and unable to have a clear vision. The engine could decide to stop working. Or there wouldn’t be enough fuel to take them from point A to point B and no Hudson Lake to land on.
There were endless scenarios.
And every one of them ended in a crash against the ground. And all of it sounded extremely painful.
One small swing or twitch while flying made Ally’s heart pound to dangerous levels. She had considered the repercussions on her health.
So, as she entered the plane and waited in line (again!), she believed this was another terrible adventure. The fact that she would have to take another plane within small time frames didn’t suit well with her.
Layovers were her definition of prolongated pain. But they were better than encountering 6 straight hours of frantic thoughts. At least during layovers, she could disperse her mind with something else.
However, she didn’t believe her flight could go worse. Nothing could make it turn into the worst flight ever, unless the plane fell, of course.
Or apparently, something else she didn’t have in mind.
Since the plane was full, it was hard to notice it firsthand. The seats were occupied by different faces. Different hairstyles, different eyes and shapes, and colors. It was like picking up a nail from a haystack.
But when Ally’s gaze traveled through the seats, searching for the few remaining ones, something sank within her.
Her eyes widened a bit and her jaw slackened.
She had to blink a few times to reassure herself thathewas actually there, instead of a creation from her head. Though, why would she think abouthimat all? It seemed like an unlike situation, therefore, yes,hewas there, sitting, next to an empty seat.
Ally’s blood pressure rose as her throat knotted.
Would Fate hate her that much that her seat was right next to him? Seriously? Was this a joke at all? Ally had no idea, but she was praying to whoever would listen to her that her seat wasn’t the one right next tohim.
No one listened to her, because why would someone listen to such petty prayers when there were bigger problems in the world, like famine or sickness or war. Or an imminent plane crashing down.
As Ally trudged down the aisle, she thought about backstepping and saying she’d rather get off the plane. It didn’t matter the cost of the next ticket home.
But when she stopped, the person right behind her cleared his throat and grumbled, “Do you mind?”
She did mind. And she forced her legs to carry on as her heart sank with each step.
Hehadn’t noticed her yet.Hemight not notice her.
Lowering her head, she trailed down and kept glancing up to count the rows.
She glanced up and cursed internally. She would have to sit next to Federico Acosta.
Oh, once her sister Nina heard about it, she wouldn’t believe it.
Ally tried to be as inconspicuous as possible. But maybe someone was hearing her prayers and instead of helping her, decided to punish her; because right that moment, Federico lifted his gaze from his phone and looked right at her.
Kill me now!
But no thunder struck the plane and ended her.
No, when she finally decided that dying in a plane crash wouldn’t be as painful; destiny hadn’t delivered.
Federico’s green eyes widened as he recognized her, and his mouth twitched into a small smile. He opened his mouth to talk but Ally jumped to Plan E—at this point, she believed it was D. She had lost count.
Ignoring him was it then.
She averted her gaze, picked up her overweight carry-on and, tried to hurl it up. She wasn’t successful. Why had she thought it was a good idea to bring an extra change of clothes for five days? She had no idea. It wasn’t like she planned to consciously sabotage her clothes or pee herself thrice a day. It sounded like a good idea while she was packing, excited about visiting her best friend in California. Now, at the plane, while she wrestled with her luggage, it was far from the best idea.
Federico noticed her struggle. Ally was sure people from row 1 were aware of her difficulty to pick up her carry-on and slide it into the tray above. So, he stood up from his aisle seat and grabbed her carry-on. With one hand (how was that possible? Ally almost cried at the injustice), he lifted her luggage and placed it above his seat. Then, he looked down at her and smiled.
Ally pressed her lips and exhaled. She would have to acknowledge his existence. She would have to thank him.
Her lips were in a straight line as she lowered her gaze, nodded, and muttered, “Thank you.”
She slid across his seat and settled in her middle one. Her gaze kept ahead, but she sensed him gliding next to her and peering at her. His brows furrowed as he studied her.
When he didn’t speak for a while, she believed he understood her cold shoulder and wouldn’t talk to her.
Then, he spoke. “Are you okay, Ally?”
She shut her eyes and exhaled. Refusing to glance at him, she hummed. “Yes.”
His eyes narrowed as he continued his perusal. “You sure?”
Why was he still talking to her? “Yes,” She answered again, without looking at him. She took her phone out to show him she wanted to be left alone.
He didn’t leave her alone. “Why won’t you look at me then?”
She frowned and shot him a glare.
His eyebrows arched up in surprise. A small smile twitched in his mouth like he found the situation amusing. Ally didn’t see what was funny about anything.
“Wow,” he said in a humorous tone. “What did I do to deserve that glare?”
Ohh, what had you done, you ask…
Ally actually didn’t know what Federico had done specifically. However, Ally knew that her sister Nina had dated Federico Acosta for a few months. It wasn’t her longest relationship by any stretch, but it was the most intense one. In the sense that Nina was head over heels for the guy.
Her twin sister had an adversity to show any emotion, it was like she was allergic to them. She refused to cry when their father accepted a job in South America and left his daughters again. She rarely laughed around Cole, one of the funniest people Ally knew. She barely acknowledged the fact that she was named one of the brightest students of the entire class and earned a full-ride scholarship.
But with Federico, Nina had smiled. Nina had seemed happy and fulfilled. And Nina had cried—not one—but rivers over him when they broke up.
One day, Nina and Federico were alright. Ally was sure Federico was the one for Nina. And the next thing Ally knew, Nina was devastated and breaking up with Federico for mysterious reasons. Nina never confided in Ally or anyone about what had transpired between Federico and her. No one knew the reason Nina decided to break up with him.
But whatever it was, it must have been huge and unforgivable.
So, like the good sister Ally was—loyal to Nina to a fault—Ally disliked Federico with passion.
Ally refused to answer Federico. Her eyes squinted even more and then she turned to look ahead.
She felt Federico sighing next to her. “So, ignoring me it is…” He muttered as he took his seat again. The seat squeaked under his weight.
Ally was glad he understood. However, as much as she wanted to ignore him, she couldn’t. His presence was huge. He was too big for the plane, their shoulders touched and one of his legs was pressed right next to hers. Her skin prickled with his touch, feeling him breathing and shuffling in his seat like he was uncomfortable.
She closed her eyes, though it made her senses more alert.
She could listen to his sighs and his breathing. She could smell his woodsy cologne. She could feel his warmth and hairy arms.
She had to adjust in her seat again, attempting to move her arm away from him. It was impossible, though. She had nowhere to move, and as much as she scooted away to the other side, Federico still invaded her space.
It was going to be a long flight.
After a few minutes of silence, as the last passengers took their positions, the flight attendance announced their initiation to taxing. Ally’s blood pressure rose.
All chaotic scenarios flew through her mind.
She took deep breaths and fumbled for her earphones. Her hands dragged over her jeans, front and back. Nothing. Then, her hands glided through her body, but her earphones were nowhere to be found.
She remembered packing them in her carry-on.
She glared above her.
It was too late to grab them. Besides, she would need to ask Federico for help, and Ally refused to talk to him unless necessary.
She ran her tongue over her lips as she overthought. She needed a distraction, anything to keep her head from imagining the worst way to die in a plane.
Her time was running out as the flight assistants showed the security procedures in case of accidents. And then, they were heading to their spot while checking each passenger’s seat belt.
Finally, the plane moved to the position on the runway.
Ally’s hands were sweating as she whacked her brain. There was absolutely nothing to distract her. No magazine, not even the freaking safety flyer.
There was something, though. Ally doubted whether it was a good idea. It was that or dying from anxiety.
When the airplane launched forward, Ally knew there was no escape.
She opened her eyes, and they landed on green ones. Federico was staring at her with a worried expression. His brow was furrowed.
“Are you sure you are okay?” Federico asked one last time.
Though her throat was a knot, Ally managed to speak through her hammering heart. “No. Talk to me.”
“Talk to me, distract me,” She rushed through the words like she couldn’t get them out fast enough. “I’m scared of flying.”