Day Seven: A Writer Entering Her Own Story and Deciding Whether or Not to Kill All Her Characters
by Tom Noonan
“You don’t belong here, do you?” I ask her, our plane flattening out and reaching a cruising altitude above the storm clouds. Her eyes are worn and hold little life behind their glassy frame.
“I’d want to be,” she manages while looking at the clouds below. Her seat might as well be empty. Maybe it is empty. I’m still not sure.
“Do you know these people? Do you know him?” I ask, pointing to another passenger sitting alone across the aisle. His hair is matted and shirt is only partially tucked. He reads a book titled, The Fight for Slavery. He seems utterly, and somewhat amazingly, content.
“He’s familiar, sure, but I don’t know him. Can’t say that I really know him. I can see him, but I am only here to get to know you.” Her words hold an intrinsic power; they make up the world around us. Everything is built on their backs.
“Is that why we’re going to crash?”
“I haven’t decided the ending yet.” She turns to look me in the eye.
“But you want us to crash, right? That’s why you came here. It’s why you’re sitting next to me. It’s why there are no young children on our flight.”
She pauses, considering my realizations. “I just wanted to leave the possibility open. It’s not about the end, though. It’s about the fear, the plummet.”
“So you’re here to hear the screams? To see us cry and hold on to our seats, hoping we’ll find life at the end of it all?”
“No, I’m not interested in the screams. Most of you won’t scream anyway. You’ll stay silent, accepting it. Probably realizing you had it coming. You leave the TV on so you’re not lonely. You’re like dogs.”
“But I have children, I’m going home to see them,” I begin to argue but quickly realize the ridiculous nature of what I’m saying. “But you know that. You gave me them. You want them to lose me, rather than me lose them. You want us to die because it might save them.”
She turns back to the window. We’ve begun our descent. “Have you ever flown at night?”
“I said, ‘Have you ever flown at night?’ When it’s completely dark?”
“Well there are still streetlights.”
“Exactly, the streetlights. Those are what I want to talk about, the orange ones. They look like embers, like what’s left after a bonfire. I want it to be like that. I want to be leaving it all in ashes, completely destroyed. They don’t deserve the lights. They deserve the fire.”
“Where will I fit in?”
“I’m not sure. I haven’t even decided where we’re headed.”