She doesn’t realize she is gripping the armrests of her chair so tightly until she looks down and sees her knuckles are white. Her arm twitches and a knot forms in her throat. The man next to her looks relaxed – he already has ear buds in.
“Excuse me, ma’am,” a flight attendant says. “Could you just push your carryon all the way under the seat in front of you? We’re going to take off in a minute.”
She kicks her bag forward. It doesn’t slide under the seat. When she bends down to make it fit, her arm flails and she hits the man beside her. He takes out his ear buds. He must think she did it on purpose to get his attention.
“Oh, sorry,” she says.
He leans back again and closes his eyes.
She takes a deep breath and keeps her arms stiff; hoping if they’re rigid enough she won’t tremble.
She imagines the plane going down, crashing into the ocean or a field in some remote town. She imagines a hijacker threatening the pilot with a knife and the passengers pleading with a God she used to believe in. She imagines going back a few days in time to when she was healthy – content – before the tremors began.
And she believes that crashing with the plane would be less painful than dying the way she knows she will.