Frozen by SBA student Shatha Alshamsi

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Landing in the Maldives

My hot breath fogged up the window, as I stared aimlessly out the airplane’s window. I felt a bead of sweat trickle down my neck. A shiver sent down my spine. I saw the workers loading up the last suitcase onto the plane’s cargo hold. The door to the suitcases sounded shut in sync with the airplane’s passenger door. 

What are the chances, I thought to myself. 

The low chatter dispersed across the 25-seater plane came to a halt as the captain’s nasal voice sputtered through the speakers, reciting the same speech repeated three times daily on this short domestic flight. The air was turning hot under the Maldivian sun, and the cramped space constricted the flow of air. The smell of the salty ocean below us wafted through the space. 

The 15 other passengers on the plane, including my mother and sister, seemed to present the opposite thoughts of mine. Some had smiles plastered on their faces. Some had their eyes closed, probably a result of the early flight. Others just looked out the window doe-eyed, staring at the transparent water below us. I, on the other hand, was deep in thought. The fear was overtaking my thoughts and nestling itself into every crevice of my brain. 

“Water or juice, ma’am?”

I snapped out of my thoughts to look up at the flight attendant expecting an answer from me. My mind’s echoic memory allowed me to register the question I did not hear. 

“Water is fine, thank you,” I replied in a trembling voice, clearing my throat in an attempt to restore it. I took a sip of the drink, longing for it to calm my anxiety. 

“Shatha, stop shaking your leg,” my mother sitting next to me instructed as she positioned her hand on my knee. 

Not noticing my action, I deliberately tried to still my bobbing leg. The tremors would not go away though. The plane was getting closer to take-off and the nerves got worse. Planning the trip two months ago, I was skeptical of my capability to go through with this. Sitting in the plane seat, two minutes away from it flying, I exhibited the same worries.

It’s never too late to walk off the plane, I thought. Well technically, the door was shut so it was indeed too late.

Sitting to my left, my sister scrolled mindlessly through her phone. Her brown locks framed her tanned face and laid like a curtain. The plane’s wheels started moving. My eyes darted out of the window, not believing it was actually time. The trees and airport started flying by as the plane picked up more speed. The floor was shuddering beneath my feet. The plastic cup of water was vibrating in its cupholder and the remaining water splashing against the inside of the cup. I clenched my jaw and closed my eyes, sitting dead still, as the sound of rattling became increasingly louder and the plane seemed to reach the right speed to become airborne. And it jumped. The plane got higher in altitude and my nerves seemed to dwindle. 

The worst part was finally over. 

“That wasn’t so bad,” I whispered underneath my breath.

“Yeah well it didn’t seem like it,” my sister laughed as she and my mother watched the video she took of me while the plane took off. My horrified expression proved me wrong.