P.S. It's quite long, so be prepared!
The noise of the airport was deafening in Jake’s ears. The scuffling of shoes of the floor, the scraping of suitcases as they were placed haphazardly on the conveyer belt. Jake forced himself ignored it. He hurried onwards to the check-in, eyes lowered, clutching his old, worn suitcase in his hand. It was heavy, pulling his body to the left. He occasionally glanced up from the tiled floor, checking he was in the right lane, the right place – the plane to Tenerife. He was ready. He glanced nervously at his watch. 8:56. His plane left at 10:00. He sniffed and let his eyes wander around the airport. There was nothing much to it – white tiles, grey walls, glass ceiling. The people, however, where much more interesting. A young teenage girl clutching a swollen stomach. A small, weedy man glancing around nervously. A woman gently rocking a crying child. He wondered where they were going. Florida, Spain, Turkey? Jake sighed. He was going somewhere much less interesting. He unconsciously glanced up at the sky through the ceiling. It was grey, cloudy and wet. Jake looked back at the queue. It was huge. Grumbling silently, he picked his suitcase back up and waited for the queue to slowly ebb away.
Jake was a small, nervous man in his late 40s. He liked to think that he had once been handsome – a tall, dark haired hero. But since Anna’s “demise” he had wilted and shrunk. Wrinkles now lined his face and eyes and his brown eyes were now stuck in a constant state of terror and nervousness. His nails were ragged and bitten, his suit crumpled and ruffled. Jake didn’t care about appearances. Not since Anna and Melanie fell...
“Hello. What’s your name?” Jake glanced up. He was at the front of the queue. He peered behind him. The queue was even longer now, lines and rows of suitcases waiting to board the plane, waiting to go on an adventure in another country. “Excuse me, Sir?” Jake turned back and looked at the receptionist. Her long blonde hair was swept back into a bun and her face was sun-kissed and freckled. She had a large brown mole on the side of her face. She looked a little bit like Anna. Tears welled in his eyes just thinking about her.
“Your name, please?” the receptionist said, her fingers waiting patiently to type his details into the computer.
“Jake McAllister.” He blinked the tears back into their ducts and gave a weak smile. The receptionist looked at him blankly before turning to the computer and typing his name into the computer. Her fingers were a blur of pink nail varnish as they swept across the keyboard.
“Jake McAllister, going to Tenerife at 10:00 o’clock, economy class,” she stated, looking at him for confirmation. Jake nodded slightly and the receptionist turned back to the computer. A few minutes later she handed him his ticket and motioned for him to put his bag on the conveyer belt.
“Eh...just a second. Need my hand luggage,” Jake said shyly, smiling and tucking the ticket into his pocket.
He paused and hurriedly opened his bag, rummaging through the main section of the suitcase. He grasped his rucksack, felt its familiar fabric and smelt its familiar aroma. He touched the cold metal that lay inside. He yanked the rucksack out and slowly zipped up the pocket. He nervously placed the suitcase on the scales. There was nothing important in it – just a pile of mismatched clothes, a few books. He swung the rucksack round one shoulder as the receptionist placed it on the conveyer belt. He watched as it sped away, ready to go on its final journey.
“That’s you, Sir.” Jake smiled shyly at the receptionist before walking out of the check-in and into the foyer beyond.
Half an hour later, Jake was sitting in a plane seat, his legs crushed in the tiny space. The cabin was noisy, busy, loud. Children cried, mothers shushed, husbands discussed the latest car magazine. Jake ignored them and wrung his hands. He glanced at his watch. 10:13. Jake sighed quietly and pressed a button on his left. The seat slid back slightly, a comfortable position. Jake scratched his arm and closing his eyes, slowly drifted off into a fitful sleep.
She was standing there, clutching Melanie’s hand. Her face was blank, a demented calm that frightened Jake more than the prospect of a life without her. “I’m going to jump.” She spoke slowly and smoothly, unaware the terrifying reality of where she was, unaware of her child crying and struggling beside her. Melanie’s cheeks were streaked with tears and she cried out for her Dad, for him. He shouted back to her but the wind carried his words way. Jake cried and screamed, pleaded and begged but it was no use. She was waiting. Jake rattled the door but it was locked – there was no way to reach Anna and Melanie. He called the police and prayed. Still, she waited. Waited for him to say that one word – sorry. He had screamed it to the heavens and beyond when he heard her silent plea, realised what she wanted. Maybe then she would come down. He said sorry for the mistake. Anna looked at him when she noticed his apology. Tears welled in her eyes and, for a split second, she stepped back, off of the edge. She blew him a kiss and then with a single solitary smile she stepped forward, off the roof, carrying Melanie with her. They were spiralling into the air, broken dolls with broken limbs. They were falling...Anna was falling...he was falling...
Suddenly, a bump jolted Jake upright. He grasped his rucksack that was lying neglected on his lap. He looked around frantically before breathing heavily and counting to four. He could hear the voices and moans of the passengers behind him, a padding of footsteps walking into the toilet. Jake glanced at his watch. 11:17.
He slumped backwards into his seat and put his head in his hands. The therapist said there was nothing he could have done. Anna was crazy, she said. He couldn’t have saved her and Melanie. Jake sobbed. He knew differently. He saw the possibilities every time he dreamed. He could have caught her, he could have coaxed her down, he could have-
“Mister, watch me tie my shoe!” Jake looked up and slowly swivelled round on his seat. There was a little girl jumping up and down in front of him, her eyes wide and sparkling. She sat down and smiled before focusing on her mini trainers, her grubby hands fumbling with the shoelaces. She was tiny with long brown hair that swept past her shoulders, poker straight and held back with a small, purple hair band. Freckles dotted her pale skin and her little pink tongue protruded from her mouth as she concentrated on her task. She looked about 4, the chubbiness of youth in her cheeks. Jake stared at her. She was so...innocent. Perfect. She reminded him of Melanie. He tried to block out the memory. He fingered his rucksack, feeling the familiar shape, cupping it in his hand.
Jake smiled and waited patiently for the little girl to finish. “I did it!” she squealed a few minutes later. Jake clapped and grinned as she bowed dramatically, her hand behind her back.
“Well done!” Jake said, smiling slightly. “What’s your name?”
“Jessica,” the little girl replied, bouncing up and down on the balls of her feet.
“And where’s your mummy, Jessica?”
Jessica frowned. “She’s in heaven with Daddy.”
“Oh.” Jake paused. “Who are you with then?”
“I’m with Sandra.”
“She’s my other mummy. The alive one.” Jessica absentmindedly kicked the side of his chair and looked up him with large chocolate brown eyes. “What about you Mister? Are you here with your mummy?”
Jake almost laughed. His mother had died years ago, of a heart attack. He couldn’t care less – he hadn’t even gone to her funeral. She was a horrible woman in his opinion. She hadn’t approved of Anna – called her an evil woman, She was short, stout and it was his long held belief that she had the devil on her back. She had a fiery tongue and had spent years trying to ruin his relationship with Anna. Tears welled in Jake’s eyes. Anna....
He snapped himself out of his precious memory. “No, Jessica, I’m here alone. Where is Sandra?”
“She’s on the toilet.” Jessica giggled. Jake smiled at her innocence.
“Ok, Jessica. You stay with me until she comes out, is that alright?”
Jessica nodded and jumped onto his lap, her brown hair hitting him on the nose. She started to play with his tie. Jake glanced at his watch. 11:20. The plane was due to land in forty minutes. He felt the fabric of his rucksack, the shape of the handgun. Jake swallowed and moved his hand away, placing the rucksack on the floor beside his feet. The gun was a safety measure. It was a precaution – in case he wanted out. That was the purpose of the trip, after all. Melanie had loved the annual holiday to Tenerife. If he was going to kill himself, he would do it when she was at her happiest.
“Mister...what’s this?” Jake stared. Jessica was holding the rucksack, pressing her finger around the fabric to produce the outline of the gun. His gun. Jake looked around frantically. Everyone was talking or watching a movie. No one had noticed it ...yet. He snatched the rucksack and threw it onto the window seat. Jessica looked at him like he was mad. “Mister, you don’t throw guns...if you do they could go bang-bang!” She mimed a gun firing, pointing it at people in the cabin. The passengers were turning their heads now. Looking at him.
“Don’t worry,” Jake joked, his face lined with sweat. “She has a wild imagination. Don’t you Jessica?” he touched the end of Jessica’s nose. She laughed and grinning, turned back to look at the crowd.
“Mister has a bad thing in his bag... but sssshhhhhh!” She pressed her finger to her lips and then, still smiling, ran off into the arms of a middle-aged woman. Sandra...the other mother. Jake smiled weakly and wiped the sweat off his brow. He was in trouble now. He could see the hushed whispers of the passengers spreading like wildfire through the cabin, the sound of footsteps as the hostess ran to get the pilot or security. Everyone was looking at him now. The man in front of him stepped to the other side of the cabin, his arms raised in alarm.
Suddenly a voice came over the intercom. “Everyone move to the far side of the plane. We are making an emergency landing.” Jake could hear a collective moan from the other cabins, the ones that didn’t know what was going on. “Security is on its way.”
Jake sat stunned in his seat. This wasn’t meant to happen like this. It was meant to be quick, clean, professional - not strewn with panic and disarray! Passengers barged past him, rushing into the other cabins, and from a distance he could hear the security guards racing towards him. The clink of their handcuffs echoed through the plane. He was going to jail. He couldn’t go to prison! He couldn’t! They would kill him, a weedy man like him.
Jake scrambled in his seat, trying to escape. The guards were coming closer - he could hear their heavy footsteps. The gun. Jake grabbed his rucksack off the seat and unzipped the pocket. The shiny black gun fell into his lap. Gingerly, Jake felt it with his hands. It was cool to the touch, frozen. Jake picked it up and became strangely calm. He was ready. It wasn’t perfect, but he would see Melanie and Anna in heaven. If he got there.
Security burst into the cabin, their guns raised. “Put the gun down, sir.” They were American - one beefy black guy and white guy. They could have been brothers in their shape and muscle. “Put the gun down, sir.”
Jake shook his head. This had happened so quick, everything was going so well...
Jake stared at the security guards and pressed the gun to his head. “Do you have a child? Or a wife?” he asked. Tears started welling in his eyes. Anna...Melanie...
“Yes, sir, I do. Now put the gun down, or I will shoot!”
Jake lowered his head and let his silvery tears spill onto the floor. “Then you see why I have to do this.” He smiled and with the fleeting glimpse of one last memory, he pulled the trigger.