“Yo! You survived a plane crash?” As in THE plane crash?” I quickly realize that I cut off the reporter so I take a step back. The man pauses for a brief moment before proceeding to answer someone else’s question.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to inter—”
“Many people are eager to hear your story so if you are comfortable, we strongly encourage you to share with the rest of the world.” Microphones poke and prod at the poor man. The questions continue pouring down on him as he struggles to keep up. I start again.
“Pardon my interruption but I also survived that crash.” I expect some sort of attention. It seems logical that the reporters would divide and conquer for more material but to my great surprise, they still say nothing. In fact, no one even thinks to turn to me or to acknowledge my words.
Moments ago, I had woken up in a hospital bed, confused, disorientated, and elated to be alive. I try to push away the sickening memory of what had just happened but it pries its way back in. Sharp cries of utter terror slice through the air, piercing through my eardrums and the floor shakes as the right engine fails. It feels like I’m there again, reliving the entire experience. I try to forget the gut-wrenching feeling I had as we plummeted toward the vast sea of blue. I vividly remember the blood-curdling screams as the cabin pressure increased. A single tear rolls down my cheek.
I reach forward to tap a reporter’s shoulder and my hand slips through her seemingly-holographic body. I reach towards another and the same thing happens.
“Hey! I’m right here! I survived!”. My voice cracks and my breathing quickens. “This isn’t real. None of you are real.”
I desperately want to awaken from this nightmare but I can’t. I try to remember what happened post-impact but it’s too hard. I know that as the plane came crashing down, I followed the proper emergency procedures. Working in the air force for so many years is what saved my life today. A secret that flight attendants don’t tell you is that by bracing yourself in the fetal position, you are actually ensuring a quick and painless death rather than a small chance of survival. Many think it is simply a way to better organize and identify the bodies after death while others believe It is to prevent lawsuits. My memory is patchy but I can still see the man’s face clearly. The “Hero” who survived the crash and saved his one year old daughter. The memories slowly trickle in like the grains of sand in an hourglass. He had been seated in the row across from me. It hits me like a right hook to the face.
“You took my life jacket! I’m dead because of you!”
No one can hear my cries of anger which makes my blood boil hotter.
“You are not a hero.”