An Ordinary Flight
Written on September 21 2001
Home. Home. I was going home.
My only thought as I boarded the flight to New York from Paris.
Filled with emotion, I scrutinized the crew and passengers.
Would they be my companions on an ordinary flight?
Or human sacrifices on a flight to eternity?
Please, please, let this be a commuter flight.
So many times I had taken it, the same time, the same place.
This same flight last week was cancelled.
New York airports closed.
After the attack on the World Trade Center.
Quick! I wanted to go home
To be with family and friends
To show determination and resolve.
Business class check- in. Quick, efficient.
Low-risk profile. Frequent flier.
Returning US citizen.
Razor in checked luggage.
Have to get used to new regulations.
Hand luggage searched.
Airport jammed, many people, long lines, people sleeping on cots.
Plane full, business class sparse.
Individual touch screen.
News blanked out.
Funny movie playing.
To distract against the drumroll of war.
War - against whom? A megalamania?
The ruined country of Afghanistan? Iran? Iraq? Syria?
Who else? With what objectives?
With what means? With what victory?
At take off, I thought of the passengers on the hijacked flights of last week.
They, too, had left on a business or pleasure trip.
They, too, had kissed their loved ones goodbye.
They, too, had eaten breakfast.
They, too, had put on their comfortable clothes or business suits. They, too, had packed their luggage.
They, too, had brought their cell phones and electronic organizers. They, too, had checked their luggage and gone through security. They, too, had brought their hand luggage on the plane.
They, too, had settled in the plane.
They, too, had listened to music or watched a movie.
They, too, had eaten and smiled at the steward and stewardesses. They, too, had planned the days ahead.
They, too, had observed the blue sky and billowing clouds.
And the sea below.
Admiring the approaching view of New York.
At what point were they held captive?
At what point did they realize that their fate was sealed?
At what point did they descend into hell?
At what point did they realize that their destiny was eternity? Total silence on the plane.
People quiet, very quiet
Perhaps all with the same thoughts. Bumpy landing.
Pilot announcement: Welcome to the United States of America, John F Kennedy airport. Applause. The whole plane exploded.
No pushing, no shoving to get off.
Quiet, orderly, people, helping one another A silent bond uniting them.
No, this was not an ordinary flight. But a rebirth from the ashes.
Carla Visser is a writer based in Franklin Park, New Jersey. Carlavisser2002@yahoo.com. She lived in France for 12 years, was in Paris on September 11, 2001 and visited her son in New York the week after September 11.