Ipse dixit

“Hallo darling, are you fine?” she asked me softly. Fine? Of course not. What a silly question, I thought.

I could feel that my heartbeat was irregular. My breathing was too. I could not believe I was sitting there. Was I really doing this, then? Really did I give in? Why? And who forced me to do so. I was sitting there, despite all my fears. I said to myself : “This time is the right one. I want to do it, I can do it, therefore I will do it.” After all, there were no other way to come to London. I looked around hoping to see another one like me, as terrorized as I was. That was what I truly wanted to find, at that moment: someone to share my anxiety with. No one.

Everyone was so calm and confident. They were chatting, laughing and joking with smiling and relaxed faces. “I’m so happy to leave. I’m looking forward to doing it. I like it mum, I like it very much,” a blond, blue eyed teenager said to her mother. All that enthusiasm made me more nervous. How could they not understand the risks they were going to face? Why were they happy to put their lives at risk? They all seemed unaware that their lives were in danger. They probably did not know that in the last year 1,454 people died in airplane crashes, with an increase of 90% in the last year: this has been the most significant number of victims in the last few years, since 2001. The majority of the accidents (about 29%) were in North America, then Asia (18%), Africa (17%), South America (16%), Europe (11%), Center of America (6%) and finally Australia (2%) followed.

I was thinking of all the data I researched on the internet. I was shouting all this information to them in my mind. I wanted to help them understand how dangerous the choice was they were making with their lives. I was upset by such rashness. These considerations took me temporarily away from my fears. I did not even realize that a colourfully dressed lady was sitting beside me. “Hallo darling, are you fine?” she asked me softly. Fine? Of course not. What a silly question, I thought. “Yes, fine. Thanks,” I answered her without smiling, turning immediately to face the opposite direction.

Suddenly a voice said: “Please, fasten your seatbelts and keep your seat in the upright position for immediate take off”. Done, I thought. Nothing that I could have done at that moment could help me anymore. I was in a trap, like a little mouse. My hands were wet and closed into two fists. The lady took my right hand without saying anything. I looked at her, without saying anything too. She smiled at me for the second time. I did not. Simply I could not do it. Finally, the airplane took off. I was flying.

Everything seemed to go well. Talking a little bit with the lady beside me and reading a few newspapers helped me pass time without realizing that I was doing well as a new air-traveler. Flying was not that bad after all. However, this calm was broken by strange whispers coming from the seats behind me. Glancing behind without being seen, I saw two men talking and looking at each other in a very suspicious way. They were not speaking English, nor Italian, nor Spanish nor any other European language. It was something never heard before. Gosh! They were terrorists, I thought.

I could feel my heartbeat and breathing trembling once again. I should not have taken that airplane. I said that I was risking my life. We were all risking our lives. Nobody seemed to realize that, like before: who was sleeping, who was reading, who was chatting, none were well aware like me. The two men behind me were going to hijack the airplane, I thought, and nobody seemed to be interested. Something had to be done immediately. While I was thinking what to do, preparing to be a hero, I saw one of the terrorists leaving his seat and going to the cockpit. Goodness! Too late. I stared at him, without even breathing or moving. He was walking directly to.. only two steps far from the cockpit, when he finally turned right to the toilet.

I felt embarrassed.  Only then I realized that the lady beside me was watching and smiling at me for the third time: “Are you afraid of flying?”. “Yes, I am,” I admitted finally smiling at her too. “Let’s talk together then, time will pass quicker and the flight will be more relaxing,” the lady proposed and I thankfully accepted. That was the way it went.

That was my first flight. Many others followed, but things went much better. I am used to it now. I often act like the friendly lady I met, in order to help other young afraid air-traveler novices.



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