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The flight attendants were going through the safety routine, the same one they always did at the beginning of a flight, only this time everyone was paying rapt attention.

The plane continued to lose altitude, my ears popping unmercifully. I looked out the window but still saw only the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean, much closer now. The pilot continued to drone on over the speakers about how everything was going to be fine. Even his practiced casual tone seemed stressed.

I looked across the aisle at my parents. They were huddled together holding hands. Dad looked over at me and smiled what seemed intended to be a reassuring smile. It came across as more of a grimace.

It's funny what was going through my mind. Intentions, regrets, sudden perspective. My worries about going into grade nine after summer holidays seemed pretty stupid now. The rest of my worries seemed pointless, trivial.

I pulled out my phone and turned off airplane mode, but naturally there was no signal. I looked through my text messages feeling regretful and maudlin as I read the last message from Terry two weeks ago. “Have fun on your holiday! See you soon!” is all it said. But I knew now he wouldn't.

It was too late. I couldn't help thinking about it. It was too late now. He'll never know. I never did have the courage to tell him, I knew I never would've. There was too much to lose. And it was too late now besides.

Knowing it was useless, I composed a text message anyway. What I wanted to say, what I needed to tell him. An exercise in futility. Somehow though, it gave me a sliver of peace.

The noise changed. I felt my sweat pour out, my heart hammering. I looked out the window. The ocean was very close now. One engine only was making noise now, but I realized there was more to it than that. The noise was familiar. I looked out the window again, at the wing. The flaps were coming out, and I realized the other noise was the landing gear. Strange that the crew was putting that out for a crash landing in the water.

Five seconds later I saw a shoreline through the window. Buildings, roads. Five seconds after that the engine noise roared and I felt the lurching screech of the plane dropping down much too hard onto a runway. The window now showed the runway flying past, it was twice the speed it should have been. The noise from the one engine and brakes rose into a crescendo, a grand finale of regret.

And the plane stopped.

A wild cheer broke out. The emergency slides popped out and all the exits opened. The attendants did their best to help everyone make a more or less orderly exit. Weirdly, the slide was almost fun. But I landed way too hard on my left hip, I knew I'd have a bad bruise there later.

Mom and dad were hugging me too hard. Mom crying, Dad giggling like a kid. I just trembled.

I realized why my hip hurt so much. I landed on my phone. Crap, the screen must be shattered.

I pulled it out of my pocket. Sure enough, the screen was spiderwebbed with cracks, but amazingly it still lit up when I hit the power button. I swiped into my home screen, and that's when I saw the notification.

'New text message from Terry' the notification said, then underneath, Terry's text, “Josh, we really have to talk,” is all it said.

My throat felt tight, it was hard to breathe. I opened up my texting app and mashed Terry's name with my finger. The back and forth recent texts were shown in their balloons on the screen. Just above and to the left of Terry's cryptic message, I saw it.

My text had gone through.

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