Chapter 9 | Brando

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'Do you think it's too late to go back now?' I ask Daxten with a quiver in my voice. Small sentences now or that quiver will turn into a full-scale meltdown. 'Catch the next flight?'

      'And start this whole process all over again? Isn't it better to just get it out of the way?'

      He's right, damn him. It makes sense to just pull the band-aid right off, even if it's stuck to every surface area of my skin. You know that feeling? You walk towards that rollercoaster that goes too high, or you're about to get a big-ass needle in your arm. I try to play ignorant to the signs of my body. I try but I fail. The sweat gives me away. The heart palpitations inform my body that I'm about to do something that makes me see double.

      How do I put myself through this every single time? It seems worse when I have time to sit and think about what is going to happen before boarding. If I had of just caught the plane, if I had of been a sweaty mess like I was, my body would be too focused on that. I have cooled down since then and I smell a little better, but it means I've had time to focus on flying forty-thousand feet in the air.

      Forty. Thousand. Feet.

      Daxten puts his hand on my shoulder. Some of my shaking stops. I look up at him and see him focusing on the flight attendant who is waiting for us at the door.

      The door.

      This is the last time I'll be outside an aircraft for eleven hours. That doesn't seem too bad, really. Eleven hours and it will all be over. Okay, I can do this.

      No. I can't.

      'You can do this,' Daxten tells me as if he's been reading my mind. I look at him, at first a little bewildered, accusing him of witchcraft in my head. It's not witchcraft. Either he's being impatient or he's more compassionate than he lets on.

      Deep breaths, I tell myself. I don't want to look like a fool in front of the flight attendant – though I feel justified in my fears. She seems like a nice lady and I'm sure she gets this all the time.

      She smiles at us and takes Daxten's ticket first.

      'Welcome aboard, Mr. Lowe,' she says with a beaming smile. She makes direct eye contact with him as she speaks. 'Is there anything I can bring to your suite? Coffee? Champagne?'

      'I'm fine, thank you,' he says before turning to me. He extends his arm to direct me to the flight attendant. I know perfectly fine where she is – I just don't want to give her my ticket.

      She reaches for it and grabs it. I'm holding onto it a little harder than I thought but she manages to pull it out of my hands. Her eyes glance over the seat number. She doesn't bother looking at my name.

      'To the right, sir,' she tells me abruptly.

      The interaction feels like a slap in the face, but I'm grateful for it – it's distracting me just long enough for me to take my first steps towards the door.

      There's a sense of finality once this moment comes, isn't there? As soon as you step onto the plane, someone else takes control of your body. My life is in the pilot's hands now. All I can do is sit for eleven hours and hope that I make it to the ground again.

      We can't stop whatever happens to us once the door closes.

      I shake that scary thought out of my head and notice Daxten has walked in behind me. His hand is on my back. We stop in the galley – the last two on the plane – with two curtains next to us. The one on the left will take Daxten to his life of luxury. The one on the right will lead me to my life, whatever that may be.

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