Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Up and Down (04/02/09)
TITLE: Lucy and Gerald's Adventure at 30,000 Feet
By Kristen Hester
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Across town, Gerald combed his remaining gray hairs across his wide forehead. He studied himself in the mirror as his clumsy fingers knotted his tie. His lips turned down disapprovingly at the finished product. He reversed movements, then began again. His second and third attempts yielded no better result. He glanced at his watch, then mumbled a curse word under his breath.
Lucy’s knuckles were white as she gripped her steering wheel and headed toward the airport. In her procrastination, she drove slowly, irritating Gerald, who was driving the car behind her. Gerald honked and then shot Lucy a look of disgust as he whipped around her SUV.
At the airport, Gerald and Lucy, two strangers, made their way separately to their plane and seats 20A and 20B. As Gerald boarded the aircraft, he glanced longingly toward first class, then headed toward his seat.
Lucy nodded a shy greeting to Gerald as she sat down beside him. She quickly secured her seat belt then searched for the safety brochures. Gerald rifled through the seat pocket in front of him looking for something intelligent to read, but found nothing that caught his interest. Perturbed, he leaned back and crossed his arms across his chest and let out a deep sigh. He glanced at Lucy, noting her nervousness.
“Afraid of flying?” He asked, somewhat condescendingly.
Lucy shrugged her shoulders, embarrassed that her phobia was so obvious. She closed her eyes and gripped the arm rest as the plane ascended and gravity forced her wiry frame into the seat. When the plane leveled, she slowly opened her eyes. She gently reached forward , as if any quick movement might cause the plane to rock, and retrieved her Bible from her purse. For the next hour, she read silently as Gerald pretended to solve a Sudoku puzzle he’d found.
Suddenly, without warning, the plane dropped dramatically, then shook violently. Lucy squealed, then started to rapidly chant a prayer.
“We are experiencing engine trouble,” said a voice over the intercom. “Please prepare for a crash landing.”
Gerald wanted to be calm, but found himself in a panic as well. “I’m not ready to die,” he blurted out, nearly in tears. ”
“Die?” Lucy said, feeling strangely self-satisfied that perhaps her irrational fear of flying wasn’t so irrational.
Gerald squeezed his eyes closed and his face paled. “You, shouldn’t be worried. You were the one reading your Bible.”
Lucy turned to Gerald in surprise. “What?”
“It just seems like you’d know where you’re going if we die.”
“I do,” Lucy said empathetically.
“So what are you afraid of?”
Gerald’s words revealed her lack of faith...and stung. “You’re right,” she said with confidence. “I have nothing to fear.” An overwhelming sense of peace and boldness came over her. She placed a clammy hand on Gerald’s arm.
“Gerald, if you die today, do you know where you’re going?”
Gerald shook his head and whimpered a “No.” Lucy began to calmly share her faith with Gerald, even as smoke poured from the engine and the plane continued to drop. When oxygen masks dropped from the ceiling and they couldn’t speak, Lucy held Gerald’s hand and prayed fervently.
The two braced themselves for death as the aircraft hit ground in an Alabama cotton field. Time seemed to stand still as their bodies were flung forward. They were held to their seats only by their belts as they bounced back and forth for what seemed like hours, but was actually only seconds.
Then there was complete silence. Lucy and Gerald were still holding hands when they lifted their heads off the pillows in their laps. They stared at each in amazement as the passengers around them cheered.
Lucy grinned. “I, uh, think we’re still alive.”
“Looks that way.” A relieved chuckle escaped his lips.
“What an experience,” Lucy gushed. “I went up fearful and came down bold in the Lord. I feel...liberated.” She smiled at Gerald . “And you, you went up lost–“ She stopped as Gerald punched numbers into his cell phone. “Who are you calling?”
“My lawyer.” Gerald offered her a devilish grin. “I could have had a heart attack. I’m going to sue this airline for millions.”
Lucy’s face dropped in disappointment. “...and you came down just the same,” she whispered to herself.
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