5. Strangers with Noisemakers

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For two hours, Isaac and I did absolutely nothing

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For two hours, Isaac and I did absolutely nothing.

Frankly, airports were boring. That day was no different. We walked around, touched everything, took some pictures with the "Mickey welcomes you" displays, and sat down to nap. We took turns.

What? I still cared about my valuables.

We also had a twenty-three-hour flight to look forward to. I still couldn't believe this was safe—or legal—but at least I'd go down fighting. For the future of direct airplane routes. Yeah. Solid plan.

By the time we got back to our old friend Gate 72, a crowd of people had gathered near the flight attendants' desk. It was nothing like the families I'd watched during my many (mandatory) flights to China.

Here, people didn't push and shove. They filed in. One by one. First class. Then business class. Then the poor people.

"That's us," I said when the attendants called for Boarding Group 5. We joined the line, lingering behind the tattooed couple in front of us.

They went through with ease.

It was our turn now.

We held our boarding passes out. An attendant swept her laser beam over Isaac's ticket. It let out a soft beep.

The laser met my ticket.

An ugly beep.

"Hold on," the woman said, taking the card from my hand and flapping it in the air. "It didn't read it properly."

My heart started up again. This was it. I'd have to live with the guilt of holding up the passengers behind us, the employees, the pilots. I wouldn't see Isaac ever again. I'd have to return to Dad's house. Alone.

The woman smiled and shoved the ticket stub back into my hand. "You're all good."

"Thanks!" Isaac said, rushing us along, and I could breathe again.

I looked over my shoulder. The crowd didn't seem fazed. "Did you see that?"

"It happens."

"I thought Dad had messed something up."

"He wouldn't."

We walked down the tunnel. Isaac bounced. I slouched. Our steps echoed, and chills poked me in the arm. We were outside. No going back.

The ground sloped just enough to throw us into the airplane.

"I hope you don't die," Isaac whispered.

Right. Our seats were far apart from each other.

It would be a miracle if I survived.

With a strangled sigh, I took the lead, ducking through the tiny corridor as the attendants greeted me with waves. I only nodded and looked at my feet. If Isaac had the time, he would've struck up a conversation with them.

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