Chapter 31 | Brando

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I died that cold November day. The last image I remember is that of Daxten's face, looking up at me, his head inches from the floor. The chaos around us was deafening. Everything went calm when the plane made impact with the water. It took away the screaming and the roaring of the plane. It took away the pain and fear. It took away everything.

      My eyes look up from the table in the middle of the coffee shop and out into the New York street. The sun beams through the open windows. For a moment, it is quiet. I'm always the first customer here. The barista knows my order and when to have it ready for without me even asking. Sometimes she gives me the drink for free because we talk a lot too.

      Today, I sit silent in the almost barren coffee shop. There's a young man on a laptop in the corner, punching the keyboard vigorously, the clicking sound interrupting my peaceful state of mind. A young woman sits with her mother. The two laugh over the latest episode of their favorite reality show. The nearest person to me, a boy who looks around my age, looks up from his tablet and smiles. I smile in return, but I quickly look at my lap before he has a chance to talk.

      The television set above the counter draws my attention. I have avoided news stations and online reports about what happened. It's not that I'm trying to forget – I just don't want to cry anymore.

      The reporter is loud enough for me to hear, despite me not wanting to listen.

      'Today marks the one-year anniversary of the devastating crash of Flight 143. The international flight bound for New York City on November 11, 2018, crashed into the Atlantic Ocean just twenty-three miles outside of the city. Of the ninety-six passengers on board, only fourteen survived.'

      'Do you want me to turn this over?' the barista asks. I've barely talked to her about what happened on that flight and she knows not to pry. She can probably tell by the lines on my forehead that memories are flooding back to me.

      I hold them at bay.

      'No, thanks, it's okay Jakayla.'

      She nods and continues to scrub down the counter. I return my eyes to the television screen. The reporter is replaced by videos of the rescue effort from that fateful day.

      Due to the plane splitting in half against the waves, like a heart torn in two, the divers were able to enter the plane easily. They managed to save as many people as they could.

      I watch as the back half of the plane is pulled out of the ocean, water rushing out. My mouth feels heavy as I recollect the memory of being inside. I remember nothing but darkness before I see a faint light in the distance. Then I see the silhouette of Daxten and I run to him. I want to catch up to him and I know I'm dead, but I didn't care because I was going to be with him forever, like we promised.

      But the ice-cold water of the Atlantic shocked me awake and I emptied my lungs of the deadly water that infiltrated my throat. I coughed and grabbed hold of Daxten's hand. We were both still on the floor, the water rushing under us.

      I looked at Daxten to see his head was under the water. My first thought was that he wouldn't be able to breathe, so I managed to drag myself further along so that I could pick him up. I rolled him into my lap.

      My attention was not on the other passengers in the cabin. I could hear the rushing of water and a couple of groans here and there, but nothing like the chaos of the descent. My naïve mind assumed everyone was okay. The medical examiner confirmed that most of the people on the plane died due to broken necks. They died on impact. It was quick, painless.

      Part of me wishes I never picked Daxten up. His face was too bloody and broken to truly recognize him. That was my last image of him. He was already dead.

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