Daily Archives: April 30, 2024

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An Uneasy Out

April 30, 2024 by in category Quill and Moss by Dianna Sinovic, Writing tagged as

The plane sat on the Philadelphia tarmac, waiting in line to take off. Steph blinked at the sunlight illuminating her face in the window seat; clear and sunny: a good omen for her trip to San Diego, to her former roommate’s wedding. Except, the journey was for the marital knot she’d hoped wouldn’t happen.

Then the person in the seat behind her threw up. 

We haven’t even started rolling down the runway.

Steph’s fellow travelers in Row 23 shifted in their seats as the retching continued. 

Several call lights switched on. The ill person murmured, “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”

When no flight attendant responded to the lights, a man across the aisle in Row 24 tried a verbal summons. “We’ve got a sick person back here,” he shouted. “She needs help.”

Steph calculated the time frames that would now shift. This flight had an hour layover in Denver, but if the plane returned to the terminal instead of heading aloft, she might miss the connecting flight. Which would make her late for the rehearsal. Which would push the rehearsal dinner later. Christi had urged her to fly out the day before, but Steph had limited vacay days. Besides, she wasn’t sure she could endure watching her friend marry the guy Steph had thought was hers.

A flight attendant finally walked back to Row 24. By this time, the woman behind Steph was moaning softly and was, from what Steph could see as she surreptitiously peeked over the seat back, slumped against the window. 

After trying to rouse the passenger, the attendant hurried to the front of the plane. 

Moments later, the overhead speakers crackled to life.

“Folks, we’re heading back to the terminal because of a medical emergency. We’ll do our best to get in the air as soon as possible after that’s resolved. Thank you for your understanding.”

The cabin burst into conversation, and Steph’s seatmates compared notes about their destinations and the delay. She pulled out her phone to text Christi the news but stopped. Was this her excuse to miss the ceremony? She could even float a tiny lie about exposure. After all, she was only a couple of feet away from an obviously ill person. Christi didn’t need to know that Steph’s “illness” was dread.

The jet snuggled against the skywalk, and a flight attendant announced, “Please remain in your seats while the medical crew helps the ill passenger. We are determining if we will need to move to a new plane.”

Two EMTs entered the plane with a stretcher between them. With quiet efficiency, they moved the unconscious woman onto the stretcher and quickly wheeled her away.

Another flight attendant cleaned and sterilized the area, and the two people who had been seated next to the ill passenger resumed their places. The window seat remained empty.

Steph weighed her message to Christi. The closer the time to the wedding, the less she wanted to go. Why had she ever agreed to be a bridesmaid?

Flight is delayed. I’ll be late.

Let Christi take her wrath out on those already there. When Steph finally showed up, she could plead a migraine, an aching back—anything that would allow her to skip the ceremony, or at least sit in the back row and pretend to watch.

OMG. I told you to take an earlier flight.

Steph smiled grimly at her friend’s response. Reeve just might deserve Christi. He’d ghosted Steph more than a year into their relationship, although the frequent unanswered texts and calls prior to that should have been clues. And when Christi shared the news of her engagement to Reeve—“I’m sorry, but crazy things like this happen”—Steph was surprised her friend wanted her in the wedding. Perhaps it was to gloat.

When the flight touched down in Denver, Steph’s connecting flight had already departed. The slight queasiness that started when they were still over Pennsylvania had grown in strength until she knew she would not be traveling westward from Colorado. She didn’t need a made-up excuse; she had the real thing. She just hoped it was short-lived.

Some of Dianna’s stories are in the following anthologies.

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