Someone Else

Flight 183 was a private airplane operated by Pilot Gregory that carried 3 passengers who didn’t want to be themselves. Instead, Pilot Gregory and his passengers wanted to be their future selves that each one had methodically planned out the lives for down to the smallest detail. On the other side of this flight, everyone involved would die and become their ideal selves.

The plan was simple. Pilot Gregory and his years of aviation experience planned to crash the plane on the way from New York City to the Swiss Alps. Pilot Gregory was going to do this with 3 other passengers on board. The idea was to crash the plane in the Alps and fake the death of all 4 involved. The plane wasn’t anything special. It was a little brown plane people buy to feed their hobby. It was a junker, really. But! it had enough steam to be crashed into some mountains, so Pilot Gregory deemed it to be the one for the job.

In the cockpit, Pilot Gregory smoked his Black and Mild. This would be he last one. Smoking was something Pilot Gregory did and Lance Marzolla would never partake in such vices. Pilot Gregory took a deep drag of his cigar. Those were Pilot Gregory’s favorite; the deep ones that make you talk funny afterwards. With his fingers scissored around the cigar, Pilot Gregory tapped it across the skinny of his wrist to ash the cigar. It’s not the right way to smoke a cigar, but Pilot Gregory wouldn’t know something like that. Lance Marzolla would be more the type of guy to know fancy stuff like that. Lance Marzolla is into the finer things in life like cheese and wine and glass blowing. Lance makes his own marbles for his collection. Lance could cash in a fortune for all the marbles in his cellar. Makes them all by hand. Each one. One by one. Calms the nerves he says. Regardless, Pilot Gregory had about 20 minutes left in his cigar.

All passengers were boarded, waiting for liftoff. No one knew each other, the new person everyone was about to become. So there they sat in silence, waiting for Pilot Gregory to finish his cigar. Six pairs of eyes drilled into the back of Pilot Gregory’s head. He felt all of them. Pilot Gregory spent two more puffs from his cigar and asked the passengers to maybe get to know one another. They were in for a pretty long flight.

And that’s what the passengers did.

A huskier lady, name of Joanne, turned to her aisle where two other ladies sat patiently. Joanne had too many pairs of red tank tops for the average person, but not enough to where people would question if Joanne wore the same red tank top everyday. Joanne quilted and made unnecessary knitted covers for her two sons so they could put them under the TV in the livingroom counter. Joanne’s sons had two covers for every day of the week, each one a different color than the others. In Joanne’s unemployment, she found all the extra free time to make the covers. See, Joanne had broken her leg in three different spots in a freak ranch making incident (Joanne made ranch in the 80’s. Right at the boom of ranch production in New York). Since the breaking of her leg, Joanne collects worker’s comp and will keep collecting worker’s comp until the day she dies. Regardless, Joanne spoke to her aislemates thusly, “Hi all! My name is going to be Jade.”

Jade walked fine. Her leg was nothing like Joanne’s. In fact, Jade walks her baby’s stroller through the park in Portugal every morning. Jade got married to some ambitious guy with a dream to big to realistically achieve, but she’ll love him regardless. Jade thinks she married up. Probably did depending on who is asked. Jade’s husbands likes anchovies on his pizza. Jade thinks it’s vile. They fight over pizza toppings every time they go out to the cute italian place four blocks over. Jade knows the owner and give him a wink while her husband is buried nose first in the menu asking for anchovies. That causes the cook to bring out a half anchovie, half pepperoni pizza. They compromise.

“Who might you all be?” continued Joanne.

“My name’s going to be Karter,’ said Ashley. Ashley is crippled by her student debt. She figures that the collection agency will be looking for her in about a month’s time. Jail time is likely. Ashley has zero hope in paying off any debt. $50,000 in the hole. Not a good spot to be in.  However, Ashley will be long gone before they knock in her Bronx apartment door. Ashley heard once that all the debt she collects would be passed over to her immediate family. Ashley feels bad for her Mom, but Ashley figures that the only silver lining to her mom dating for money is that she could afford what most others can’t (like $50,000 in loans). Ashley wonders what her dad would say knowing that Mom went off with the first guy she came across with a foreign car and nice hair. Ashley’s dad died of consumption during her sophomore year of college. Ashley’s mom said it was okay if she kept studying, saying that they had enough money to push her through school. Not the case.

Karter, however, is a free spirit. Karter flows like tap water; she cannot be contained. Karter likes poetry, both writing and reading it. Karter is technically unpublished she says. She prints out her poems in whatever town’s library that she’s in that month. Karter pays ten dollars to laminate all twenty of her poems, but that’s ok. Karter doesn’t write to make money, rather she writes to give the people what she believes to be good literature. That’s why Karter sells her laminated poems on the street for ten cents each. One time a older fella gave her five dollars and a pizza for one. That was the best. Karter gets from town to town using the money she makes from her poems and from strangers willing to stop off the side of the road, but mostly strangers. Karter gets her food off mom and pop shops around town. She figures they’re a lot more lenient about handing out free food. Karter has tried asking at fast food joints, but corporate never let’s the cashiers sneak over a meal to her. Karter owns three pairs of pants. One of them aren’t really pants anymore. Karter made a hole in the pant leg around where the knee. Over time, Karter ripped open the hole wider and wider when she slipped on her pants, getting her foot caught in the hole, thus making it larger. Yeah, Karter is a little beat up and a little grimey, but she’s happy and she’s free. And that’s all that matters.

“What a lovely name, Karter,” Joanne replied. “And you, ma’am? Might I ask your future name?”

“My name will be Penelope. You’re going to call me Penny for short,” said Augustine clutching her O2 tank close to her chest. Augustine is older than most. Augustine is at the age where people worry about her passing at least once a week. Augustine is a sickly 96 years of age. Augustine carries an oxygen tank alongside her medical pack which carries enough medicine in it to cure a race horse of pneumonia, dry skin, and two and a half colds. Augustine’s O2 tank is riddled with stickers of pink flowers her nieces put on back in ’87. Of course those nieces are older now and won’t remember putting on such things. But Augustine remembers, and at night, when Augustine’s joints grind each other down to the marrow, she sees the pink stickers, tattered around the edges, enough to where they don’t really look like flowers anymore and the pink has faded to orange. And then the grinding, the burning, the dull aches, the pain is lowered back down to a 5. A bearable 5. A 5 that let’s her stay around for Augustine’s family’s sake. All Augustine’s family thinks about is how they can’t imagine a world without her in it, but Augustine thinks often of the world she’ll pass into. Death is at least 10 years late, Augustine figures.

Penny, however, wants to die. Penny will have that liberty soon. She’ll have no friends, she’ll have no family, she’ll have no pain. Wherever Penny will end up, she’ll know that place will be where she’ll die. Penny will give up. She shall be set free.

“Okay, Penny. Pleasure to meet you all. I can’t tell you how excited I am to begin our new lives,” said Joanne.

Pilot Gregory’s cigar was about out. Pilot Gregory took one last drag of his cigar and flicked it out of the small glass window in the cockpit. “Well, I think it’s about time to head out, no?” The junker’s engine rattled on as the passengers dug themselves deeper into their seats. It was a tight squeeze.

Hours later, the plane hit the Swiss Alps. It was there they all died and became

someone else.

-H.G. Salas

 

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