Calamity At 35,000 Feet

by Henry Okelue

The plane started taxing towards the runway, the 12 hour trip was about to begin.

I cast a side glance at Mabel. She looked ever so radiant, ever so beautiful.

“Sweetheart, are you ok? You look worried” She said snuggling close to me in her window seat.

“I am fine pumpkin, just excited about this holiday” I replied, kissing her on the forehead.

Could it be that she read my mind? That even got me a bit jittery.

The plane took off smoothly and in no time we had settled in. The in-flight entertainment didn’t do much to settle my nerves. I was just too anxious and nervy. I put my hand in my pocket. Maybe the feel would calm me.

“Welcome on board this non-stop flight…….we shall be cruising at an altitude of 35,000 feet….the weather at our destination is beautiful and lovely” The captain’s voice over the public address system shook me out of my reverie. I adjusted and looked at Mabel again; she was already on her way to sleep. I wonder if she took a sleeping pill.

“The seatbelt signs are now off, sit back and enjoy our world class onboard service” I agree, the service on this airline always leaves me with nostalgia
“I shall talk to you again if there is any need to give you an update”

That was like the cue for me to switch on the screen in front of me and pass time. So I choose to start with catching up with news updates around the world like I normally do when I fly. As usual, the world was full of strife, war here, economic meltdowns over there. Israel and Hamas were at it again. Ukraine had another military plane shot down over the Eastern part of the country, Boko Haram was still holding on to the 200+ girls in Nigeria. How come we all can’t just get along in peace?
“Uhm…” I sighed. This world needed to take a chill pill. I started switching channels to see what would catch my fancy.
Looks like a movie will do. So I settled for the new Planet of Apes installment. I looked at my girlfriend again, she had gone to sleep. Hopefully she would have woken up by the time this movie is over.

Mabel and I met in Lagos. She was a diplomat at the American Consulate over there, while I worked for Maersk as an Engineer. We met at a diplomatic community gig that a mutual friend invited me to. She was as beautiful as she was intelligent. She spoke French and Dutch, as well as English. It was love at first sight. We have been dating for 3 years since then. It has been bliss.

I finished my movie and decided to catch some sleep.

I don’t know for how long I had been out, but was woken up by Mabel.

“Hey hun, you have been sleeping as if you took sleeping tabs like me” confirming my initial thought.
I shook out of the sleep and stretched a bit. It was just going on 10pm local time. It is time, I thought to myself. Time to take the big leap.
I stood up and went to the lavatory to freshen up, looked at myself in the mirror and the man who looked back at me was ready. How I wish my parents were alive today. They would have been so proud of me.

My heart was racing wildly. I wonder if it was doubt or fear of what the outcome would be.

I got back to my seat, braced myself and decided not to waste a moment more. One last time, I felt my pocket for reassurance.

“Mabel” I called her name.
“Yes honey……are you ok?” she looked at me quizzically
With sweat dripping from my brow, I pulled out the small box with a cute bow and went down on one knee. I brought out the diamond ring.
She put her hand over her mouth

“Mabel Meredith Brown, will you …. marry me?” I managed to say.
Her eyes lit up…
“Yes, Yes, Yes I will” she screamed as she struggled to get out of her seatbelt. The whole cabin erupted in applause as we got locked in warm embrace.
The captain’s voice came up on the speakers
“Congratulations to the newly engaged on seat 14E and D, all the…..”

Suddenly a flash that went right across the aisle and a deafening explosion.

Everything went pitch black.

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“This is breaking news, we are at this time reporting a statement from Malaysian Airlines that flight MH 17, which took off from Amsterdam enroute Kuala Lumpur has lost contact with the control tower at about 10:15pm Malaysian time”

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