Plane That Never Landed: Lives That Never Lived

Author's note

I consider this to be one of my most meaningful stories, not because of how it's written or because of some unusual plot, but because it is based on a true story that took place last year, in Eastern Ukraine. I'd like to take this brief moment aside to say that I sincerely hope my respected readers will recognize the lives that were lost, and the horrors, happening in Eastern Ukraine, and give a moment aside to say a silent prayer for all of those who are so tremendously luckless – for those, who life shows no mercy.

(This story includes major deaths and bloody descriptions; hence, it is not suitable for children. Please do not read if you feel uncomfortable with violence and death, or if you're younger than 13 years old).

Thank you.

Chapter 1 – Boarding the Plane

The Wright Brothers, and other famous names I can mention, have contributed greatly to the modern technology of airplanes. There are many people we can thank for the quick and comfortable transportation – names knowledgeable people are doubtlessly acquainted with, and names that (unjustly) nobody knows, names that belong to countless of common engineers who sacrificed so much of their time for the sake of their work and for the sake of humanity. In return, thousands of airplanes from countless of different countries take flight daily, and among them was one luckless Boeing … that has no reason to ever be forgot.

"ATTENTION, PASSENGERS. NEXT FLIGHT AMSTRENDAM TO -"

A girl's sobs overtook the mother's attention, and the next minute the woman was overcome by her daughter's biggest hug. A little brunette head pressed itself against the jeans-clad knees, and the woman stooped down to pick up the child.

"But mommy, I don't want you to go!" the girl cried. "Please don't leave me!"

The woman brought a sun-bronzed hand to skim through her daughter's silky tresses and murmured affectionately, "Marie, darling, please do not be upset. You know Mommy needs to go and help Daddy." She attempted to give her daughter a sunny, encouraging smile, but judging from the girl's frown it came out as a weak grimace. "Then we'll be together again. I promise."

Marie pursued her trembling, rosy lips, but the great wail erupted from her throat nonetheless. Several adults gave the woman a dirty look as they passed, with their bags and coats disappearing in the crowd of people a millisecond later. "Mommy! No!"

The woman's mother, an elderly woman with powdery hair and a loving smile, stepped forward and placed a hand gingerly on top of the girl's shoulder. "Sweetie, you don't want to be Daddy all alone, do you? Daddy needs your Mama more than ever now."

"Grandma's right, Marie," the mother cooed. "Daddy needs my help, and while I'm gone I need you to be a good little girl for your grandma. Okay, sweetheart?"

The girl shook her head fiercely and clutched her mom even tighter – as if that was possible. "I want to go with mommy!"

The woman felt as if her baby girl hit her in the chest. Those words, spoken with childlike desperation and love, mysteriously struck a cord of fear inside the woman's soul. She thought about it before, bringing her daughter with her. After all, Marie didn't see her father in such a long time, and she knew how much the two loved each other. But every time she thought of bringing her five-year-old baby with her, on that monstrous airplane to span such a great distance, brought such a swelling feeling of horror that the woman's eyes teared up every time. It was as if supernatural forces were whispering to her, warning her not to take her child on that flight. She decided to follow her intuition and keep her daughter safe and sound here, at home, where she knew for sure that nothing bad will happen to her. Now, that smoldering horror grasped the woman again.

"Dear, are you all right? You look a little pale," the woman's mother noted with concern. "Sit down."

The woman obliged, tightly holding onto her bawling child simultaneously. Why did this suddenly seem like a goodbye?

The elderly woman pressed her hand against her daughter's forehead and frowned. "You're awfully cold. Are you feeling all right?"

"Yes, mother, I'm fine," the woman reassured. "Why?"

The grandmother took one glance at the hysterically sobbing child and shudder. "You know how I feel about them airplanes, dear. I have a bad feeling about this." The woman looked at her mother in slight surprise, and saw her own gripping fear mirrored in those brown eyes.

"Please don't go, Ann," the grandmother implored. A tear leaked down her cheek. "Please."

The woman pursued her lips and gently rocked her daughter to and fro. Her eyes remained transfixed on the board, where green words passed the electronic board, and she pinched her face together in a rush of fear. The child's loud sobs quieted, but there appeared no end to her steady stream of tears.

"Ann," the grandmother tried hopefully.

The woman inhaled deeply and said regretfully, "You're wrong, mother. Dmitri really needs my help now. He's unwell and alone."

"Dmitri wants you all safe. He doesn't even know you're coming!"

"Mom." There was a tone of finality in the woman's voice, and her grandmother drew back in surprise. "Please. I'm just trying to do what's best for all of us. Besides, the ticket is bought – I'm going." She leaned forward and kissed her mother on both cheeks, holding her lips at her mother's face a second longer than she usually did, and then drew back. "I love you. Take care of Marie for me."

The grandmother brought her lace handkerchief over her eyes.

The woman gently instructed her child to sit back, and when the girl obeyed the woman pulled out two gifts: a plush pink pony and a magnetic drawing board. The girl stared at the presents for a moment, widened her eyes, and pressed the gifts close to her tiny chest as she wailed "thank you" over and over again. The woman hugged her tightly and stood up, saying, "Please be a good little girl until mommy comes back."

The grandmother gave the girl a helium red balloon the child discarded before, took the child's hand, and followed the woman to the customs. Lines of people handed their baggage to the police, who swept the bags over the x-ray scans, before returning it to their respective owners. The woman felt a rush of nostalgia at the sight and wondered, briefly, if those people will ever see their families again.

Then she turned around, wordlessly hugged her trembling mother and her red-faced daughter, and stepped at line. She watched her mother and daughter wave until the girl began to sob again, and then the two stepped out of sight.

Customs were mercifully quick, and fate seemed to usher her right to Terminal 6, where her destined plane will take flight from. She rested her suitcase against her leg and looked out the window, at the magnificent MH17 Boeing, gleaming in the glaring sunlight. That's your plane, she thought, perusing the smart red and blue stripes and the incredibly large wingspans. Surely, she thought, such a well-made aircraft will deliver her to her husband in no time.