Theme 35: Hold my Hand
Ayşe Keskin awoke to the sound of heavy rain pounding down around her. Opening her eyes was harder than she expected, doing so stung terribly. She realised she was still sitting in her seat, although Ayşe was the only one in her row. In fact, there wasn't even a row to speak of. She was just sitting there, alone in the dark, a strong and vile smell hanging in the air.
Where was she anyway?
She forced her eyes to open some more. She could sort of make out more of her surroundings now. Ayşe was sitting, just a lonely seat in the midst of chaos.
The rows in front of her, where seats had once been, were now a tangled mass of metal and that hard fabric airplane seats are made of…
Ayşe realised then what had happened. Her memory came back all too quickly for her to handle. The awful weather outside, the turbulence, both engines failing almost at the same time, plummeting to the ground at a terrifying rate, the dreaded "brace, brace" chanted throughout the cabin. There were other things too. The petrified faces of people around her, her friend who was beside her clutching onto her hand as they braced, that little girl across the aisle from her… how she looked at her before impact.
Ayşe choked out a scream.
It was then she heard a soft whimpering sound. It was difficult to describe, being too low pitched for any kind of dog to make. But was a human capable of making such a noise?
She heard it again, this time it was louder. She guessed it was coming from in front of her, in the heap of debris.
It was a human. They were trying to say something to her, but it was too soft her to understand properly.
Ayşe tried to answer them, but what she wanted to come out as a confident tone came out as a feeble croak. "Hello?" she called feebly, "Merhaba? Nerdesiniz? Where are you?"
The voice came again. She could only just about hear it this time.
"Over… over here…"
Her weakened eyes scanned the area, but could see nobody. Attempting to stand up, Ayşe realised that her seatbelt was still fastened. Fumbling with the awkward buckle, she released herself and tried to stand.
It was a big mistake. Her ankle buckled under her weight and she crashed into a heap onto the remnants of the floor, pain blazing through her body.
"Are… you alright…?"
It was the voice again, closer to her as she lay in a pained heap. She dragged herself to her knees, in a crawling position to avoid putting any pressure on her damaged ankle. "Konuşmaya devam."
"… I- I don't… under… stand."
Ayşe suddenly couldn't think of the English translation. Her mind was blank, but the response gave her a rough idea of where the voice was. She crawled across the debris-littered floor, her ankle protesting against the movements. She tried moving her head to get a side view as she moved, but any form of movement made her neck twinge horribly.
It was barely audible, but she turned her head towards the sound.
A widened pair of sea-blue eyes blinked back. She studied the face they were set in quickly and silently, though the pale light combined with her damaged eyes made the task more difficult than she expected. From what she could make out in the moonlight filtering in through tears in the remnants of the cabin ceiling, he was young, blue-eyed and had a tangled matt of flame-red hair. Or was that just blood? She couldn't tell. All she could see was the unadulterated fear in his eyes.
Blood was pooling around his mid-section. Ayşe roved her eyes carefully to see where it coming from.
He was pinned at the waist by a row of chairs. Ayşe could see where the skin had split underneath the weight. Oh God…
She tried in vain to formulate words in English, but instead they came out in her native language. "Oh ... Sen yaralanıp yaralanmadığını. Yardım edeyim."
His brow furrowed weakly. "…What? I-I don't… speak your language."
Ayşe gently place a hand to his head, stroking his hair, wincing when her hand came into contact with something warm and wet. "I said… let me help you." The English words sounded strange to her, as if they weren't supposed to be spoken that way.
It was then she realised that she was so scared she was almost crying.
No… I mustn't cry. I have to be strong, for him.
She wiped her eyes on her filthy sleeve, sniffing deeply. The heavy scent of jet fuel abused her senses.
He smiled feebly at her. "It's ok… to cry, you know."
Ayşe sniffed again. He was supposed to be the one crying, not her. He was the one who was probably going to die. Yet, he was braver than she was.
She felt… pathetic, useless. Like she deserved to be the one crushed beneath a row of airplane seats, not this stranger.
She felt a hot tear running down her cheek. Before she could move her hand to wipe it away, the stranger lifted his own hand to her cheek. "You don't have to be brave… for me."
Ayşe choked out another sob.
He smiled softly again, holding his hand out to Ayşe, laying it carefully near her lap. "Hold… my hand… Don't… don't cry."
She felt him cupping her right hand in his. It was warm and sticky with dried, and fresh, blood. Then again, it didn't matter, for hers was no better.
She didn't know how long she sat there, with the mysterious stranger. It could have been mere minutes, or as long as a day. Certainly, the rain didn't hold up, as it fell in sheets all night. She saw no other soul other than the one in front of her. The only sounds she heard were the wild weather, or soft attempts to start a conversation from her companion. But no matter how hard she concentrated, she could never think of a reply that wasn't in her native language.
But for all the time it took, she held his hand, and never let go once.