By Chance

By Knightmare Elite

            Mark hugged Jill for the last time before she prepared to board her flight to Chicago.

"I love you," he said proudly.

She smiled and said, "I love you too".

 Mark ran to the window to wait for her plane to take off. There was a woman also by the window. She was staring inventively at the plane as if she were staring a hole right through it.

"Are you waiting for the plane to take off too?" he asked trying to start a conversation.

"Yeah my son's on there he's going back to college and I just can't leave until I know he's safely in the sky," the woman responded.

            Mark was shocked to find out that she had a kid and a grown up one at that. She didn't look more than 25.

"Umm if you don't mind me asking you look pretty young to have a kid in college. Can I ask your age," Mark asked.

"It's ok I'm 29 I had Jesse when was a teenager, very young. I should have listened to my mom but I just had to become a woman."  I have no regrets though, I love Jesse with all my heart and won't take any of it back by the way the name's Susan," she replied.

            Mark smiled and they continued watching people board the plane.

"I'm Mark, Mark Houser my girlfriend's on that plane. She's going on a business trip to New York for an interview for a modeling job. I love her so much she means the world to me. When she comes back I'm going to ask her to marry me," Mark admitted 

"Wow you have big plans don't you," Susan remarked.

            Mark was a little hesitant to answer her question because of the hint of sarcasm in her voice.

"I really do love her you know she's the most important thing in my life. Ever since the day I broke my arm at the big game and she ran to my side to see if I was alright; I knew from the look in her eyes that there was some sort of connection between us. It was fate that brought us together," Mark revealed trying to prove his seriousness.

"I didn't mean to offend you Mark. You just seemed a little over confident in to get married. Maybe I was wrong about you," Susan said apologetically.

 The door shut and the plane began to move. Very slowly at first then it picked up speed as it coasted down the runway.

            Mark took a sip of his soda. He waited in anticipation for the plane to take off as he prepared to leave.

"As soon as I get home I'm going to shred this dress, lie in the sofa in my bra and panties and have a beer," Susan suddenly announced.

 Mark nearly choked on his soda from hearing her speak so freely.

"What! Are you seriously going to do that," He hysterically responded.

"Hell yeah I've had a hyperactive 18yr old at home all summer. I couldn't even blow my nose in peace without him over my shoulder. I love him and all but, I'm just glad he's gone so I can let my hair down if you know what I mean," Susan admitted.

            "Oh yeah I understand, it's that way with Karen too. She never lets me breath sometimes. We're always making out and stuff you wouldn't believe what an animal she can be," Mark slyly stated.

"Hehe I can imagine…can't really blame her…" Susan replied as her voice trailed off.

            "What's that supposed to mean," Mark demanded.

"Man you get agitated so easily…I only meant that you're cute. I can see why she would want to ravage you all the time," Susan finally admitted.

            Mark began to blush deeply and turned away so he could hide it.

            The plane began to lift off and they both smiled and picked up their things. After a few seconds the planed suddenly leaned to one side. It still continued upwards then there was an explosion on the left wing.

"Oh my god…this can't be happening."  Susan turned to him with tears streaming from her eyes; she begged him to tell her that wasn't happening.  

"..It…It's...probably a minor engine problem…they'll fix it in no time."  Mark knew that his words meant nothing now he too felt the tears.

Susan's bag dropped from her arm. A thick trail of smoked escaped the wing spurting small flames. The plane straightened and it looked as if it attempted a landing. It suddenly nose-dived and crashed on the runway. Susan buried her face in Mark's chest crying her eyes out.

Mark stood in place softly stoking her back. After a few seconds they ran out onto the runway. There were firefighters spraying down the plane. As soon as Susan and Mark reached the runway they were held back. Susan asked one of the men how bad the situation was.

"Oh my god my baby's in there I have get through," Susan frantically screamed.

 "Look ma'am I know that you're scared but you have to stand behind this line. There's nothing we can do until we get the fire under control," The man sternly responded.

Susan shoved him out of the way and ran through the caution tape. The heat from the plane was extreme but she didn't care, she had to know that Jesse was ok. The man ran after her, picked her up much to her tireless fighting and put her next Mark. Mark held her back trying to comfort her at the same time.

"Hey you keep your girl away from here or else she'll be sent inside. This is serious and not a playground we're doing all we can," the man angrily shouted at Mark.

            Mark was shocked at the man calling Susan his "woman".

He took it as a compliment but at the same time was outraged. His "woman" was trapped inside a burning plane.

 "She's not my girlfriend she's someone I met earlier. Can't you people go any faster," Mark angrily shouted at the workers.

  Mark and Susan continued holding each other until the fire was finally extinguished. Mark felt Susan press away as they began to remove the bodies on stretchers. Unfortunately they were all covered in blood and other debris otherwise unidentifiable. When one of the bodies was pass along, Mark saw the bracelet around the wrist. He immediately realized it was Karen. She wasn't moving at all. Mark ran to his car so he could get to the hospital. He nervously fumbled with the keys trying to get it into the door.

"Come on already," Mark agitatedly grumbled.

He opened the door and turned the key for the ignition and the car stalled. "NO not now anytime but this…. you piece of crap!"  Mark beat on the wheel a few times hoping the car would start but it didn't.

A car pulled up next to him and beeped the horn. It was a rather expensive looking car it was Susan. She waved for him to get in and they were off to the hospital. Her makeup was runny from all her crying and it was still coming down. Traffic was especially bad because they had to close off one road due to the ambulances passing.

"Don't worry Susan everything's gonna be alright you'll see," Mark told her in an attempt to calm her.

            The arrived and flew and almost destroyed the car doors trying to get out. Mark ran inside and headed for the desk.

"Where is Karen Sampson," Mark blurted out.

"I'm not sure is she one of the crash victims," the receptionist asked.

Mark's heart sank when he somberly answered "yes".

The woman explained that they were all in the emergency ward. However she wasn't sure if he'd be allowed in yet. He didn't care and made his way to see Karen.

"Karen I'm coming don't worry I'm coming," he shouted as he ran down the hallway.

As soon as he entered he saw Susan laid across a young man crying her eyes out. Mark soon realized that was Jesse and he wasn't moving. He had serious injuries and blood covered Susan's dress.

"..Susan is he alright," Mark softly asked.

 Susan slowly looked at him with red eyes and wiped off the tears with her arm. The answer was obvious to Mark; Jesse had died in the crash. He wanted to console her but at the same time he was seriously concerned about Karen.

"It's ok Mark, don't worry about me go find Karen," Susan sobbed.

Mark stood still for a moment watching her not budge from his body. She cried her heart out at the same time he knew he had to see Karen. The room began to fill with the families and it was harder for Mark to locate Karen. Over in the far corner he saw her on a bed surrounded by doctors.

            He ran over to her, knocking down a small child and almost knocking down another. One of the doctors looked at him and asked if he knew her. Mark explained that she was his girlfriend.

"I'm Dr. Livingston, Karen suffered a serious blow to the head but is in stable condition right now. Only a few moments ago did she become conscious. Her vital signs are a little below normal but it looks like she'll pull through," Dr. Livingston revealed.

 "Thank god you're alright Karen I was so worried…I was actually afraid that I could have…lost you," Mark softly admitted.

 Karen weakly turned to him and smiled. She reached out her hand and he held it, rubbed it against his cheek and kissed it. It felt so warm and so soft almost like holding a baby's hand.

"Karen how do you feel," Mark happily asked.

It took her a few seconds to respond but Mark didn't care as long as she did. "…My head and my chest hurts and I think my wrist is broken but otherwise…I'll be fine," Karen weakly answered.

 "You're going to be fine do you hear me. These doctors are going to help you get better. You'll be back to modeling again in no time. One of the doctors gave him a funny look.

"Wait is her name Karen Sampson," the doctor asked.

"Uhh…yeah…why wouldn't it be," Mark nervously answered.

"Well my cousin works for "Hot Glory" talent agency. He said that they were gonna hire a new girl named Karen Sampson. He said that she was the total package. She graduated from Harvard business school. She decided to use her looks instead of her brains…no offense," the man further revealed.

"Yup that's Karen…so she got the job! Karen did you hear that you got the job," Mark whispered

Karen smiled as best she could in her current state. Mark remembered Susan and wanted to check on her to see how she was doing.

 "Karen I'll be right back I just have to go see how someone's doing…she just lost her son," Mark sadly stated as he prepared to leave.

"Mark…I love you... goodbye…she needs you now." 

Mark smiled and walked away feeling like a million dollars.

            As he made his way from Karen into the crowd Mark began to realize just how lucky he was. More and more sad faces rose. He could see the mothers and fathers crying to no end. In the middle of the room was Susan curled in a little ball. She held her head down at the foot of Jesse's bed.

"Susan," he softly called.  

She once again looked up at him with red eyes.

"I know I can't say anything that could possibly make you feel better. I want you to know that I am truly sorry for what happened," Mark consoled.  

"I wish…I wish…I could have been there right beside him in his last moments. What kind of mother am I? Why could that not have been me instead of him," Susan nearly whispered while trying not to cry.

 "Don't talk that way there was nothing you could have done to prevent this. You are obviously a wonderful mother. Your devotion to him right now proves that," Mark answered trying to stay uplifting.

  "I guess god just felt that it was his time to leave this horrid place. But at least he's in a far better place now…I just with I could have told him I loved him one last time. So how is Karen…did she make it," Susan somberly asked.

Mark could see the sorrow in her eyes and was reluctant to answer. Still he hoped it would comfort her just a little to know that Karen survived.

"…Actually Karen's alive and doing pretty descent right now. She suffered a few injuries but it looks like she's gonna be just fine."

"Mark…she was spared for a reason, whatever her job on earth is it's not completed yet. You better make her know how lucky you both were. Don't make the same mistake I did. I want you to go over there to tell her how much you love her. Then propose to her like you said you were going to," Susan demanded.

Susan stood up and Mark felt bad when he saw the giant blood stain all over her dress. Mark smiled and hugged her; she was a little surprised by his gesture. At the same was glad to know that she had a shoulder to cry on. Mark felt a lot better that Susan had accepted the fact that Jesse had passed. She wasn't as angry as some of the other families.

"Thank you Mark I'm really glad that you're here…hey I think that doctor's calling your name," Susan informed.

"Mr. Houser you have to come quick its Karen, she's convulsing!"

 Mark turned white as a ghost upon hearing something had happened to Karen. He wasted no time to be at her side. When he got there her bed was surrounded by five doctors. Her eyes slowly rolled back into her head. Steams of blood leaked from her mouth. Mark stood motionless not being able to believe what he was seeing. The ECG beeped so weak until it finally flat lined.

 The doctors ripped off her shirt and one of them yelled "CLEAR". He pressed the pads on her and her body jumped. He repeated it again and nothing happened.

            Mark's whole world just fell apart in front of his eyes. The doctor pulled off his mask and sincerely looked Mark in the eyes. He took a deep breath and tried to tell Mark what happened.

 "Mr. Houser, Karen's condition was more complicated that we previously thought. It seems that she had ruptured an organ. She was suffering from internal bleeding the whole time. It was the fact that she had a concussion when she had hit her head the window. That had magnified the internal injuries. So basically she was on borrowed time, it was only a Marker of time before she eventually bled to death…are you ok sir?" 

The words sank into Marks's head. He just didn't want to accept the fact that Karen was gone. Only a few minutes ago he had seen her sweet smile. Now she lay lifeless in the bed.

He couldn't take his eyes off of Karen. The doctor closed her eyes and covered her up; he felt a hand on his shoulder.

"Don't hold it in Mark, let it out."  Susan stood behind him with open arms. She returned the favor and provided him with a slightly smaller shoulder to cry on.

"She's gone, Susan, she's gone. It was like she knew," Mark cried.

"I understand how you feel, death always come for those who seem less expected of it. There's nothing more we can do for Jesse or Karen. Can I ask you something Mark?"

  "Yes," responded Mark.

"What exactly were Karen's last words," Susan asked rather intrigued.

Mark froze as he realized what Karen said.

"…She said…I love you, goodbye she needs you now." 

"…She said that," Karen asked in disbelief.

 "What does this all mean…why would she say something like that," Mark sobbed.

"It's because she wasn't the one who said it," Susan answered.

 "The doctor said she was on borrowed time," Mark admitted trying to come to some sort of conclusion.

"Borrowed time, that's when god takes the person's spirit, He imparts on them for their remaining time all his wisdom. It allows them to finish what their purpose was," Susan informed.

 "…But what she said was…" Mark's voice trailed off.

"Mark what you heard was what you were meant to hear and nothing more. I cannot force you to believe me. That's just how I've come to understand life," Susan confided.

 "…This is all so sudden I don't know what to do," Mark replied with fear in his voice.

  "Come on there's nothing but despair in here. I saw a little coffee house on the way over here. Would you like to talk about this more over a cup," Susan offered.  

Mark thought back to Karen's last words. He knew that Jesse's death was destroying Susan on the inside. At the same time he knew that Susan was right. There was nothing for them in there. They took one last look back at the bed at the blanket covering the body.

He quietly answered, "Yes I would appreciate that very much." 

Susan wiped off her eyes once again and told him it's going to be alright. They left the hospital and proceeded to the café. They both waited to see what life had in store for them now.

****In Memory of Maydelle Santiago****

May peace be with her and her family.