Zest Lit Issue 2, October 2013 - Page 130

Still somehow, the dying plane stays aloft longer than expected, much longer, and in this closing moment, this last drawn breath, Griff sees the firestorm’s leading edge, a wall of flame, a rain of sparks driven by the wind, swirling, spreading, unleashed on the tinder like a blowtorch. All made brighter by the impenetrable darkness of towering clouds.

In this moment of last-ditch confusion, Griff catches a reflection in the haze. A blemish of vague light, something not of forest nor meadow, made neither of rock nor earth. A small lake where creeks converge; a space between the trees; an opening in the blinding smoke – and therein the hope of a forgiving collision with the world below. But the crippled airplane is as intractable as a lazy old mule, unyielding to the whip, to coaxing, to threats or demands; its injured body is not willing to turn, to make any effort on its master’s behalf. So Griff hunkers down, uses every trick he knows, drops the borate to lighten the plane and cuts one engine. It’s his unwavering determination to have it not end here . . . too soon, not enough life gone under the bridge – too much left to live for, a jealousy over all living yet to be.

Now the nose points down toward that pool of light no more than a half-mile away. The tail drops for a moment, shakes, faltering in a perpendicular rush of blistering air. The treetops are their companions, and the copilot clutches at the space before him. But Griff isn’t giving up, isn’t calling to God or Jesus just yet. He doesn’t hesitate, not even for a heartbeat in what must be finest hour; he drops the flaps and cuts the other engine. The silver plane tilts, straightens, and then reassembles itself with some small hope of