Chapter 11 | Brando

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Oh God. The plane is moving.

      My hands clench the armrests. My neck tightens as I look up to the ceiling. Fair enough, the plane is moving at the same rate as a cab in New York traffic, but we are still moving. This is it. The worst part is now.

      I wonder if counting will help – one, two, three, four, five... nope, not helping at all. It feels like I'm counting down the seconds until I meet the Grim Reaper.

      Why, why, why was I cursed with such an overactive brain? Shut up. Shut up Brando. Keep your inside voice quiet. You can shut up, can't you?

      The safety demonstration. That should keep me preoccupied. There are two beautiful women giving the demonstration at the front of the cabin. The one on my aisle has light blonde hair and seems to be looking for someone. I can tell her heart isn't in it. Maybe it's because she's done it a million times before and nobody ever pays attention to her?

      The voice over the speaker utters the word 'emergency' and my eyes scrunch shut. No, I can't imagine that right now. There can't be any emergencies. Everything needs to go smoothly. There's no need for oxygen masks and life jackets today. Positivity wins. As long as I believe everything will be okay, then it will be.

      It's a shame I don't believe myself. I could really do with having Daxten here right next to me. He balances me out, calms me down.

      'Are you Brando?' I hear a voice through the darkness. I open my eyes and see the flight attendant standing next to me.

      'Uhm, yes, I am.'

      'Good, I'm Daxten's sister, Leah. Mind if I join you?'

      Daxten did mention he has a sister. Her eyes are the same, as if I need proof of her identity. 'Sure.' She squeezes past my legs to take the empty seat next to me. As she puts on her seatbelt, I ask, 'how did you know I'm Brando?'

      'Judging by the shaking and the sweating, I got the impression you're nervous about flying. Daxten was worried about you so he asked me to keep an eye out for you. Nothing to worry about, am I right?'

      She's smiling as if nothing is wrong.

      'You must be used to it,' I say, now keeping my head forward as the plane makes a turn. I try to keep from looking out the window.

      'Oh, kind of, I haven't been at this for very long,' she informs me. 'I decided to break away from my dad's business to do my own thing. What do you do?'

      She's distracting me. Is my fear really that obvious? Am I wearing it so boldly on my face that a stranger can pick me out from the crowd? My face does feel light, as if all the blood has drained from it.

      I can't help but see the airport get further and further away. I'm on a ship that has left its port to float in the middle of the ocean – in the middle of nowhere. I look in front of me. I can't look at Leah or I'll see us leave the ground. The view of the seat in front of me is good enough.

      'I wouldn't say I have a full-time job exactly. I like to volunteer.'

      'Oh, that's sweet of you. Daxten did say you're a really good guy.'

      Okay, I have to look at her now. 'He said that?'

      'He did. He was singing your praises. He's sad he won't see you until we get to New York.'

      'He was... sad?'

      'Is,' she corrects, 'he is sad. You seem to have made an impression on him in the short amount of time you've known each other. Only a special guy can do something like that, especially to my brother. He's a good guy too but he's been hiding it away for a long time. I have you to thank for bringing out that side of him.'

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