One more try, I told myself. One more try before I attempt to sleep.
Picking up my phone, I redialled the most dialled number in my log list and listened hopefully. But just like my previous attempts, the response to my call was an emotionless voice telling me the number I dialled was not available. I knew it was a long shot, so why did I subject my heart to such a disappointment? Simple… I was desperate.
As I lay down on my cold bed, I wondered how I was going to rest my tired body. I did not do much that day, but the tears weighed me down. Exhaustion had me staring at the ceiling with the phone on my chest, and shortly after, it pulled me away from reality. I don’t remember how it happened, but the next moment I opened my eyes, it was at the sound of the phone ringing.
Day was already seeping through the gap between the curtains, but exhaustion had not left. With the bleeping sound filling my bedroom, I sat up and quickly looked around for it. The moment I saw it on the floor, I jumped off the bed and answered it without hesitation.
“Hello?” I said eagerly, my voice sounding dry.
“Mrs Pebble? I’m calling from the Shuttle Station. We are arranging shuttles for families of Alpha-1 to fly to Mars. Will you and your daughter be able to check-in for today’s flights?” a voice of a young man asked.
“Yes! Yes. I’ll leave right now.”
“We will add your names to the list. Please bring your necessary flight documents.”
“I will. Thank you. Thank you so much.”
The call ended with the young man assuring me he would do anything to help, but I knew his words were just attempts at comfort. Sadly, no one could comfort me now as I placed my phone down and began packing.
I was not in the mood to pick out my best clothes, so I threw whatever came into reach on my bed. I was also not in the mood to fold them nicely, but when I tried to I found my hands shaking. Clasping my hands together, I shut my eyes and inhaled deeply. I had to be strong, but strength cruelly left me. As a lump formed in my throat, my eyes began to ache. Attempts to hold my tears back only left me trembling even more, and when I finally let it all out the crushing pain swallowed me whole.
How could I be strong knowing the man I love is missing? He was just promoted and was to be stationed at Mars. He had to take the earlier shuttle to check on everything before my daughter and I joined him. Who would have thought a few hours after I bid him goodbye that Shuttle Alpha-1 would have gone missing? If I knew, I would rather be on that same flight with him. Whatever horrors I might experience on board would be nothing compared to waiting for days without answers.
When I was finally able to calm myself down, I heard a knock on my door. It was a soft, gentle knock, a knock only my innocent daughter would do.
“Come in, dear,” I said, quickly drying my eyes.
“Mummy, are you o.k?” she asked.
No, I was not o.k.
“I’m o.k. We are going to the shuttle station today. So I have to pack your clothes. Could you be a good girl and fix yourself breakfast?”
My sweet five year old nodded her head with a smile. That made my heart ache even more. How was I going to tell her, her daddy is… gone?
“Are we going to see daddy?” she asked.
I simply nodded, afraid that if I spoke I would start weeping again.
“Can I wear the pink dress? Daddy says I look pretty in it,” she added.
My eyes began to water again and I held on to my words as long as I could. I had to hold back for my daughter, even if my hands began trembling uncontrollably.
“Yes, baby… yes. Wear that,” I croaked.
My daughter jumped with joy before skipping out of the room. After she was gone, I shut the bedroom door and wept till I felt too tired to continue.
It was not easy making it to the Shuttle Station. I had a hard time focusing on the road and when I arrived I found myself being escorted into a room filled with other people in the similar fate. My daughter also did not make things easier.
As the man at the counter checked our flight documents, she asked, “Why are people crying?”
The man awkwardly continued his check as I knelt down and said, “Some people cry because they are happy, and some cry because they are sad. It’s normal.”
“But why are they crying?”
“I don’t know, baby,” I lied.
After all the necessary procedures were completed, I found a seat at a corner away from most of the people. But my attempts to protect my daughter from the horrible emotions in the room failed as I found her staring at a weeping woman. Having no other choice, I resorted to handing my child the ‘Holotab’ which she grabbed and immediately started up her favourite game. When she no longer found interest in the distraught woman, I felt a little better. I was not going to let my child suffer the emotional pain I was suffering. It would break her fragile heart.
As my daughter controlled a space penguin with her tiny fingers, I watched each person that entered the holding area. Just an hour before we were called to board the shuttle, an old man and his son took a sit across us. The moment he saw us, the old man did not stop staring at my little girl. It was unsettling, but when he got up, he said, “She reminds me of my granddaughter. She likes that game.”
Through those words, I immediately felt his pain. His son heard him too and stormed off almost instantly. But I stayed to give him a hug. He needed it… I needed it.
“I know she’s alright,” the old man said. “She’s a fighter, that little one.”
I nodded my head vigorously in agreement. As I took my daughter in my arms, ready to take the shuttle to Mars, I knew that I might not see my husband again and my baby might not see her daddy again. But I also knew there was a hope.
It might be a week or even a month before they find him, but there was hope. My man was a fighter, and miracles can be found… even when all seems lost.
I decided to write this story for the family and friends of the passengers of MH370. It is easy for us to imagine what it would be like to be on a missing (crashing) plane, but we dare not imagine what it would be like to know someone on it. The pain, the agony, the wait… they are as lost as the passengers themselves, with no answers to their only question.
MH370 is a close to home tragedy as I know of someone who know people on that plane. Also being a Malaysian plane, we Malaysians were the first few to hear of the news. Some of us might have gotten calls, others text messages that immediately ruins the start of a weekend. I hope that you would join me and continue to pray for the passengers and their family and friends of MH370. Even though the situation looks bleak there is still hope.
I believe miracles can be found even when all seems lost. Believe that with me and lets hope for the best.
© 2014 Jeyna Grace
(For more short stories, click HERE)