The lights of the terminal faded as we taxied away into the darkness obscuring London Heathrow Airport. In the distance, strands of mist, silver in the predawn hours, covered the ground like woolen blankets. I stared at my reflection, cold and one dimensional on the thick glass of the window; my gaunt companion, transparent and hollow, tired eyes wet behind a sagging face.
At that moment I wanted nothing more than to be home.
The lights in the cabin flickered and my mind blinked in the transitory darkness. I saw my wife in that instant, her countenance outside, an apparition in the red and blue beacons pulsing beneath extended metal wings. I lifted my hand, reaching toward her. She was gone. The wound of prolonged separation tore anew and I shuddered.
Auburn strands had swept across Jodi’s face as she lay beneath the comforter of our shared bed the morning I’d left. I sat at her feet, watching as a dream lifted the corners of lips so soft they could caress away any sorrow. Her eyelids fluttered as she rolled onto her side, the delicate motions of a rose petal in the breeze. With a longing finger, I brushed the hair from her cheeks, looping it behind her ear. The base of her neck curved like a porcelain swan to the smoothness of her shoulder. The strap of her gown had fallen and I marveled, transfixed, at the beauty of the woman who had so richly blessed my life.
Too soon, the horn of the waiting cab had torn me away.
It had been three weeks.
A sigh filled my lungs and echoed. I twisted the ventilation knob above my seat, releasing a breath of air that spilled down from the fuselage in a cottony whisper. I drifted in the sensation, waves pulling me from shore. The plane, the cabin, the passengers about me all dimmed and I became lost in a vast warm pool with no horizon. Jodi muttered, close, her voice throaty. She smiled at me and bid me come. The door to our room was latched. A candle on the nightstand glowed with ribbons of crimson. Lace slipped from feminine curves, tanned skin gently illuminated. I touched her, feeling heat. Perfume encircled me, tugging at my senses. I inhaled, long and slow. Holding every drop. Her nearness was an opiate. It pushed away the outside world and sheltered me in the security of a love divinely constructed. Her nails circled. A hand on—
—my shoulder. “Mr. Jackson?”
My muscles seized and I jumped, wrenching my head about and clutching the fabric armrest.
The stewardess leaned closer. “I’m sorry, Mr. Jackson.” She smiled. “You need to fasten your safety belt. We’ll be lifting off in a moment.”
“Yes, of course.” I swallowed and fumbled with the straps. “Been a long trip.”
She patted my arm. “You’re near the end, now. Going home. Let me know if you need anything.”
I nodded and glanced at my wristwatch. Six thousand miles away, Jodi was climbing into bed, her day just concluding. Opening her Bible to the marker, she’d focus on the Word.
A familiar passage surfaced in my mind and I recited with her. I gave orders for all of us to fast and humble ourselves before our God. We prayed that he would give us a safe journey and protect us, our children, and our goods as we traveled … and he heard our prayer.*
She’d close her eyes in a silent appeal, lifting me up and weeping for strength.
I bowed my head and joined her, beseeching our Savior to reunite us in marriage anew.
Outside, the waning moon descended and the stars glistened. The same as they did in California.
Our God is greater than these.
A warmth bathed and freshened me as my mouth drew into an assured smile.
The engines roared, causing the plane to tremble as it accelerated along the runway. I relaxed as I was pressed against the cushions, content in the machine’s ability to power my journey, but trusting God to shepherd the way. Through the window, London shrank beneath me like a receding galaxy. The eastern horizon began to glow as we banked over the Atlantic toward home.
* Ezra 8:21-23 New Living Translation
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