Dana L. Davis
Tiffany Sly Lives Here Now
Chapter 21 (#litres_trial_promo)
Chapter 22 (#litres_trial_promo)
Chapter 23 (#litres_trial_promo)
About the Publisher (#litres_trial_promo)
“You did good, miss. You can open your eyes. We’re landing.”
I nod, eyes sealed shut. We’ve landed. That’s what I’m waiting to hear. I tighten my grip on the armrests, as if somehow this plane landing safely is contingent upon the act. The man beside me gives my shoulder a gentle, reassuring squeeze.
“It’s so loud,” I whisper. “Is that normal?”
“Perfectly.” His voice is calm and composed despite the fact that we’re defying gravity, soaring through the air in a fancy-shaped tin can with wings. “I never did catch your name.”
“It’s Tiffany,” I mumble, lowering my head, bracing myself for impact. “Tiffany Sly.” What if the plane skids off the runway and catches fire? That happens. I saw it once on CNN. A commuter plane skidded off the runway, rammed into a chain-link fence and struck a tree. The tree ripped off the propeller. The propeller...exploded. I should’ve listened to the captain’s speech. Now I don’t know what to do in case our propeller explodes.
“How old are you, Tiffany?”
“I’m—” I pause. The plane’s vibrating and shaking now. “Did you feel that? Is that normal?”
The gentleman’s heavy hand rests on my shoulder just long enough to give it another comforting squeeze. “Completely. We’re landing. Only a minute more.”
“But I think something’s wrong.” I contemplate opening my eyes. I need to see the looks of terror on the other people’s faces. Then it would all make sense—this intense foreboding bubbling inside my chest, in rhythm with the beat of my heart.
Thump-thump, thump-thump: We’re not landing.
Thump-thump, thump-thump: We’re crashing!
“How old are you?”
“I’m...fifteen. I mean, sixteen. Today’s my birthday.”
“How wonderful. Happy birthday, Tiffany. First time flying?”
“Yes... I mean, no. I flew once...when I was a kid. But... I don’t remember. I was with my mom then.”
“And where’s your mom today?”
“Omigosh! Shouldn’t we be slowing down? It feels like we’re going faster. Is that normal, too?”
“It only feels that way.” His voice is so serene. Like he’s totally unaware that if I let go of these two armrests, this plane would essentially veer off course and explode. “In a few seconds, the wheels of the plane are going to make contact with the ground. Have you ever been on a roller coaster, Tiffany?”
“I hate roller coasters.” I lurch forward. “What just happened?” I plant my feet in front of me and push back so that I’m pressed firmly against the seat.
“Tiffany, we’re on the ground. Seconds more and you can breathe easy.”
The whooshing sound of the airplane as it speeds across the runway pavement both comforts and terrifies me. Only a moment more and I can stop desperately clutching these armrests and all these people will owe me a big fat thank-you.
Thank you, Tiffany, they’ll all exclaim. If you hadn’t kept your eyes shut this entire flight and squeezed those armrests the way you did, we would never have made it into Los Angeles.
“Open your eyes,” the man says softly. I hear the captain’s voice through the airplane speakers over the rustle of passengers shifting about. “We’re here.”
I open my eyes and sigh inwardly. The plane is still moving but slowly. We’re on the ground—alive. None of us will be on tomorrow’s news as the unlucky bunch aboard the doomed 747 from Chicago to Los Angeles. There won’t be an article with photos of smiling people and short descriptions of lives tragically cut too short trending on Facebook.
I turn to the man who was gracious enough to relinquish his armrest for our four hours together, truly seeing his face for the first time. His bright blue eyes are an alarming contrast to the tiny portion of night sky I can see through the small plane window. And his face matches the tone of his voice, warm and wise.
“I’m sorry,” I say. “Hope I didn’t ruin your flight.”
He smiles. “You did very good, Tiffany. Now, better call your mom and let her know you arrived safely.”
I nod graciously as the plane comes to a halt, standing to gather my carry-on luggage from the overhead space, feeling so damned lucky to be alive.
* * *
“Grams, I’m here. I’m in LA.” I clutch my cell in one hand as I weave through the hundreds of travelers moving through LAX, my well-worn guitar case decorated with old ’80s rock band stickers slung over my shoulder, dragging my small carry-on behind me.
“See? God is good. I was praying for you the whole time, Tiff.”
I’m glad Grams can’t see me roll my eyes.
“How was the flight?”
“I bet it was. How did you like first class?”
Not sure. My eyes were closed the whole time. “Classy.”
“Don’t be intimidated by all that class. Just be yourself.”
“Grams, who else would I be?”
“The Tiffany I know is funny and brave and...”
While Grams drones on and on about how awesome she thinks I am, I imagine my new dad standing at the base of the elevator. He’ll be waiting with a bouquet of roses to whisk me away so we can do father-daughter things like, um, whatever it is that fathers and daughters do, I guess.
My phone vibrates and I see My New Dad scroll across the caller ID. I nearly jump out of my Converse sneakers. “Shoot. It’s him. Grams, I’ll call you when I get to the house.” I tap the button to switch calls before Grams has a chance to respond. “Hey!” I hop onto the escalator, my stomach an epicenter of nervous energy, butterflies dancing wildly. “Are you here?”
“Tiffany. I—I’m so sorry. I have to make an emergency run.” His voice is deep and husky just like I remember from our last phone conversation. Such a dad voice.
“That’s okay. I don’t mind waiting.”
At the base of the stairs, I notice men in black suits holding up strips of cardboard or iPads with names on them. One of the men holds a strip of paper with my name. We make eye contact and he smiles.