We Have Arrived
by Sinmisola Ogúnyinka
Immediately the text came in, ‘we are boarding,’ my one hour of fear began. I quickly responded with a string of heartfelt prayers for safe arrival. I found things to do. I picked my handset and played a boring round of brickbreaker – I was good too. But in this one-hour wait, I lost all my lives after just the second level. Then I tried to ping… no one seemed to be responding. Well, with a full hour to wait, I needed to occupy my mind. With the recent loss of my childhood friend, Arnold, in a plane crash, everything changed. Kenny, my husband would have been on that flight if there hadn’t been traffic… so…
He has to travel. Every two weeks, he came to visit. That was the family arrangement we had for now. After he got promoted and relocated to head his organization’s branch office in New York, a few months before the crash, we had to settle for the biweekly arrangement. I couldn’t move, yet, anyway… Our kids were two girls aged 9, and 7 and the baby of the family, a one-year-old boy.
My head involuntarily roamed to the fancy wall clock in the room. Only five minutes had passed since the text came in. He’d probably not even taken off.
“Oh God, help me.”
I stood and switched on the TV. After scrolling through over hundred channels of cable channels, I settled for an African movie, an old one that reminded me of home, When the Sun Sets, the one that introduced Kate Henshaw. The renowned Nollywood star actress looked so young; it took my attention off my misery. She was good. So good, I even found myself tearing a bit.
But then my mind went back to the clock. Twenty minutes gone. They would be airborne now. My heart began to thud and race. This happens twice every two weeks… since the crash that shook the whole world… A whole family wiped out, many children orphaned, fatherless and motherless, widowed…my Kenny would have been on the flight!
My girls were in school and my son was being bathed by my younger sister who lived with us. Frustrated, I began to pace, the movie that had so held my interest a few minutes earlier, totally sour. Whenever I got that boarding text message, we normally gave one and a half hour to receive the arrival text.
“God, there can’t be more than one crash in a year, right?”
But then I remembered 2005, when three or so planes crashed successively, when we were back home. Oh, that was back home back then. Or so. “God, help me.”
I started sobbing. And I didn’t know why. “Please Lord, let him arrive safely. I can’t bear to be alone. I can’t find a job that could feed a family… Please God. We are far from home and family, foreigners in this great country. I can’t…I won’t…it doesn’t…”
Early in our marriage, we had decided I would be a stay-at-home-mom, to give the children a balance.
“God, I promise, I will move to New York next month once schools close for the year. I will manage the condo Kenny has in New York until we get a better…” I sobbed. “I will find a great school in the suburb for the girls, God. I can’t take this anymore!”
I cuddled on my bed, sighing like I just came back from a long jog. Kenny was supposed to meet Arnold, my childhood friend on that February 3rd, and both were to go to the airport together.
They missed one another and agreed to ‘see at the airport.’ That never happened. Arnold made it, Kenny didn’t because of traffic.
Ironically, Kenny was the one who made it, and Arnold didn’t!
Pain clutched my chest and I heaved, breathless, choking. Arnold had been such a friend to our family, always ready to help… always there. If anyone deserved to live, it was Arnold. As a medical doctor, he carried his profession everywhere and into everything. He worked free more times than he worked for money…
Arnold left a family too. A young, beautiful, bubbly wife who had given him three fantastic children. Arnold’s kids were close in age to my kids. How would they continue to live without a father…
I began to sob aloud, using my pillow to muffle the sound. I didn’t want to draw my sister’s attention.
Arnold was the one who introduced me to my Kenny. They had met during Arnold’s Youth Corps Service, where he served in an organization where Kenny was an accountant. He used to tease that he fell in love at first sight with Kenny for me.
Arnold was a great man.
Oh, what a wretched life! I try to be patriotic, drive right, talk right, live right. At the time I had a job, I paid my tax, Kenny still does. I teach my children to love God and country, to serve her. We pray for our country! Why would God ignore our cries for mercy? For the past one year, people have just been dying senselessly from floods and hurricanes and a pandemic and that plane crash had just come too close to home.
I didn’t know when the pillow dropped off, and I was wailing.
Only my phone ringing interrupted my outburst of sorrow. Without looking at the caller, I picked up, and mumbled, “Hello?”
“Honey, we have arrived,” Kenny said. “You sound husky, are you alright?”
About the Author
Sinmisola Ogúnyinka is a pastor’s wife, mother, writer and movie producer, and the published author of Under a Red Delta Sun and Blue Dawn.
She has a bachelor’s in Economics, an MFA in Creative Writing and is a Craftsman of Jerry B. Jenkins’ former Christian Writers’ Guild. She lives with her family in Philadelphia, PA.
You can read Sinmisola’s “Flash Fiction” column on the 4th Tuesday each month here at Mustard Seed Sentinel.