Twenty three thousand feet. The captain tells us we’re twenty three thousand feet above sea level. News channels have taught me to contextualize huge distances. I work out in my head that we’re at a height of about twenty three hundred elephants. I close my eyes and press my sweaty fingers into his palms. Apparently, we’re in for some turbulence.
The plane begins to rattle and I feel my pulse quicken. I’ve noticed that most people just try their damndest to look unperturbed during turbulence. I’ve never been able to muster that level of self-deception. I pull my hand away and dig into the armrest. It isn’t death so much as the loss of love that worries me. I’m not a religious person; calling on a deity will just feel disingenuous now. There are a million unformed and hazy memories swimming around in my head and I try hard to piece them into some coherent sequence. Doesn’t work. Only irrational panic.
As always, we land safely. We’re holding hands not knowing that we wouldn’t in a while.
I later find out that the turbulence wasn’t caused by bad weather or dense cloud cover. We were caught in another plane’s wake. Someone hadn’t taken into account that what goes before affects what follows.
Neither had we.