December 27, 2012 by Meg.Lacy
She leaned against the tattered form of the captain’s chair. Not that she needed to. She had no weight to support and she seldom felt physical discomfort anymore. She seldom felt anything anymore, only the occasional ache in moments like this, when humanity found her prison at the bottom of the sea.
It had taken her some time before she did anything but hide in the back of the cabin whenever one of the men in black leotards looked through the windows. Against her logic they had terrified her and brought images of demons dancing through her mind. But when enough time had passed, and curiosity collided with boredom, she observed them enough to discover that they were in fact, men. The realization had brought the feelings with it. They whispered through the numbness that defined her existence, through the floating drunkenness of death.
She moved further towards the nose of the plane and rested her elbows on its disintegrating panel of gauges. The eyes hiding behind the wide glasses were blue. The corners of her mouth lifted as the ghost of her heart remembered what life used to feel like. Those flickers were her favorite moments. Her only moments anymore. But why would blue eyes excite her? The urge to remember dipped her into a dizzy confusion. She pushed it away and savored the race of her pulse and cinching of her stomach.
The man took out a camera and its bulb flashed through the water. He would be leaving soon. They always came to take their pictures with their swimming cameras and then they would leave her to the horizon of white sand beneath the sea.
The man turned and slowly pushed his way back toward the surface. She could see the bottom of his boat. It grew and shrunk as the waves rolled beneath it. Music sunk down from its deck, through the water and along the ocean floor. But the music that played wasn’t the music she heard. Instead, smokey voices with echoes of trumpets floated around her. She closed her eyes and felt the weight of a beaded dress on her shoulders, adorned strands of thread caressed her knees as she twisted slowly to the music.
When she opened her eyes the music stopped and the bottom of the sea was silent. The boat had gone and taken the man with it. It had been replaced with gloom and she watched as it slid toward her from the back of the ocean, skimming the sand as it came.
She clutched at her locket. The smooth surface in her hand eased the tension that built in her throat but it wasn’t truly there and neither was she. Night, when the blue turned to black and she was left to the cruelty of darkness, was when she remembered.
A deep breath in would steady her, would fortify her against the memories that would quickly flood her mind. And so with the darkness they came, like the water that had pushed into her lungs as the plane sunk beneath the waves, the memories came, demanding entrance and submission with their incessant pressure.
She had not wanted to go but he had made her. He had said it would be an adventure and so it had been. A permanent one.
Her first glimpse of the massive piece of tin had been a relief. No one could make her believe it could take flight. But, when she felt its wheels lift from the runway, her bones had fused together, leaving her motionless and cold in the seat next to… blue eyes. She remembered now. He had had blue eyes. She clutched her locket again, it felt heavier this time. She did not want this again and she called on the vow she had made to herself. She would be stronger than the urge to remember.
She forced her eyes open to blink in the emptiness while she listened to the sand slide past the bottom of the plane. It sounded the same way the wind had when the pilot’s face had fallen into fear. Her party had clutched flutes of champagne as they pushed laughter from their throats: desperately pretending that the jumps of the aircraft were part of the show.
They of course, had not been. The pilot had solemnly apologized for his inadequacy and asked them to submit a plea to God. She had finished sipping her champagne instead. As they plummeted towards the ocean she had sipped champagne while the rest of them had prayed. What a silly thing to do. Maybe she would have been with them, with him, if she had asked God to save her. To help her. She shook her head back and forth and remembered vaguely that, when she had been alive, there had been more friction in the base of her skull. Now it glided with too much ease from one side to the next.
The thought of praying still seemed silly and she continued to shake her head. They had died and she had known they were going to as soon as the pilot had let go of the handles that controlled the plane’s direction. He had calmly folded his hands and watched the sea come up to greet the nose of the plane.
Why should she pray? How could she? It wouldn’t have mattered even if she had. It had been a time for fun. For dancing. For jazz. She hadn’t been worried about her eternity when she drank and smoked her way through the basement and back alley bars of New York. She had been busy breaking boundaries.
But the memories weren’t done. They weren’t going to let her escape into her personality and opinions. She was only allowed to feel and fear. After the crash the inside of the roof had been cold but incredibly noisy as she had pressed her cheek to it, sipping the last ounces of oxygen from the cabin. Everyone else was underwater, still in their seats… probably because they had been looking at the floor when the plane met the ocean. She had been looking out the window and her shoulder had hit the seat in front of her leaving her face and consciousness in tact.
The final wave of memories, memories of her sinuses filling with burning salt water, were not what she dreaded as darkness finally rested over the plane on the ocean floor. It was her lover slipping against her bare legs beneath the water. She crushed her eyes shut and waited, the only comfort she could find was the knowledge that tomorrow, she would remember nothing only that she feared the night and that looking at the empty sea floor wasn’t that bad.