The fast, warm flow of blood streamed through her heart to her head. She could feel it building up in her sinuses and start to give her that familiar, drawling headache. Her fingertips started to tingle as the blood retreated from them. Her arms began to numb, like they were being wrapped in a protective film. Panic shot through the walls of her lungs and brought air in and out at twice the normal frequency. She could taste the thick copper blood in the back of her throat as it moved its way to her nose.
The plane started its big wide turn onto the runway.
The perfect plastic airhostess that denied Carina a drink sat about twenty feet away. Carina watched as the woman strapped herself in tight and gently padded her perfect Barbie doll hair with her dainty synthetic hand. Carina reached up and touched her own hair. Her natural black curls had been crumpled by nervous fingers all day, matting and tangling it. The sweat had glued long strands of her bangs onto her forehead. The woman’s make-up sat on her plastic face comfortably. The chilled sweat made Carina’s make-up slouch. Everything but Carina seemed perfectly at ease.
She looked back to Jen sleeping soundly on her right. Her headphones and her eyelids blocked her off from the world. At that moment, Carina wished that she was like Jen. Calm, comfortable, composed. But she wasn’t. And she wouldn’t be. At least not until the plane was discharged of flight, and her of wake. Or until the plane had stopped burning, and her heart pounding. Images of a smoldering plane wreck surged through her brain. Her father watching the news, trying to tell himself that her plane arrived safely. That Carina was in a hotel somewhere, sleeping off the jetlag with a smile on her face. This sort of thing doesn’t happen to people like me, he’d think. Panic and fear would recapture the family, but not Carina. She could finally break free from it all and rest.
The wheels started to turn and the airplane made its way down the runway.
Carina tried to disappear into her seat. Everything in her body throbbed at irregular intervals. She could feel a bubble forming, moving slowly from her stomach, swelling and pulsing its way towards her head. Her trembling, clammy hands let the magazine slide onto the floor.
The airplane started to pick up speed.
She started trying to grab at the seat buckle, but it was slipping from her hands, like an eel. A layer of grimy sweat had started to form on the smooth metal buckle. Her fingers couldn’t get a grip. She felt hands wrap around her neck and tighten like a vice, squeezing the bubble. The first drop of thick claret blood rolled from her nose. Carina’s elbow rubbed against Jen’s arm, causing her to stir. The cold sweat warmed on her burning skin.
The airplane hit maximum speed.
Carina was sucked back deeper into her chair. The bubble in her head made the pressure unbearable. Her fingers finally locked around the buckle and hauled it open. The hot blood rolled down the cleft on her upper lip and into her mouth. As Carina parted the belt buckle, her elbow hit Jen’s and her eyes opened. As Jen turned, she saw the drip of blood from Carina’s nose land on her white blouse, and spread.
“Carina?” she said, “What are you,” she started, stopping at the sight of the blood dripping onto Carina’s white blouse. “Fucking hell, Carina! Are you okay?”
Carina pushed herself from the seat and stood, swaying with the momentum of the speeding plane. She steadied herself and slid into the aisle. The blood flowed into her mouth as it gasped for air. She put a hand over her face and raced down the aisle towards the bathroom. The blood filled her hands and seeped through the gaps in her fingers. She could feel every eye watching her. Their expressions shifted from calm, subdued fear to confused panic as they saw her run past. Her eyes focused only on the bathroom.
The airplane leant back and raised its front wheels from the ground.
At this moment, Carina’s free hand grabbed the handle, stopping her from being flung onto the floor. The door swung open and her heart stopped. The bright searing light burst from the bathroom, exposing the shiny plastic coating of the tiny room. Her breathing came like jolts to her lungs and screams from her mouth. She was frozen still but for the gasps in her chest.
“Mam! Excuse me mam! PLEASE return to your seat!” shouted the airhostess.
Carina heard only a warm, muffled bass, like she was submerged in oil. She swung her head around towards the voice and saw all of those anxious eyes peering back at her. The woman’s face turned from a look of perfect plastic Hollywood anger, to a look of genuine shock. That dainty plastic hand came over her gaping mouth. Carina looked down at her blouse and saw that it was soaked in her own red-brown blood.
The rear wheels of the plane lifted from the asphalt and their gradient started to rapidly increase.
Carina was thrown into the bathroom and she slammed the door shut behind her. She flung herself onto the toilet of the tiny, bright room. She squeezed her eyes shut and rested her head against the cold surface of the sink. For a moment, everything became calm and dark. The cold spread across her cheek, cooling her down and taming her breathing. She could feel the blood drain from her head and flow back to her limbs, giving feeling and relief to her whole body. Her head cleared and all of her thoughts left behind on the ground.
The confusion and panic from the cabin seeped through the cracks in the door. The word “terrorism” hung on everybody’s lips, scared to let go and voice itself as genuine concern. The airhostesses could be heard desperately trying to calm everyone down. Carina breathed long, slow breaths. She felt the thick dense air move into her bruised lungs and sooth their walls. Everything remained dark and the sounds of panic were blunted by the withdrawal from agony.
“Hey! Open up! You can’t be in here! Open up!” someone shouted and banged from the other side of the door.
Carina’s eyes opened and took everything in. The air suddenly rushed from her soothed lungs and every pore burst with a cold, sticky sweat. She could feel the simmering blood start to churn in her head and leak from her nose, thicker and faster than before. Her eyes shot around the tiny room, taking in every detail and wincing at thought of it all. The beaming white plastic walls started to draw in on her and wrap around tight. She pulled her head from the sink and started to gasp and sob silently. Pulling her knees to her chest and hunching into a ball, she rested her welling eyes onto her knees and started to pray.
“Please god, make me a big strong grown up,” she muttered, sniffing back her tears and blood to her constricting throat. Her hands crunched at her hair and pressed onto her skull, trying to squeeze every thought of death from her head and bring her to peace. She quietly sobbed to herself as she sat trapped in her own perfect plastic coffin.