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Kimberly handily rejected every request, and in between her and Meredith taking care of me like I was some sort of small child, she distracted me whenever I wanted to talk about Jake’s funeral arrangements.

In the middle of me begging her to listen to me about the type of flowers I would want there, she “Shh’d” me and turned on the TV.

There was breaking news on CBS.

The brunette anchor cleared her throat and hazy images of an ocean and fog played on the screen behind her.

“Good evening, loyal viewers,” she said. “We now have an update on Flight 491. According to several sources, the plane was successfully ditched in the Pacific Ocean. The area where the plane lost contact with the control towers was three hundred miles outside of the rescue team’s previous search efforts, but they are all redirecting their efforts.” She touched her ear piece. “Sources are reporting that several passengers were able to make it off the aircraft and onto the plane’s emergency flotation rafts, but at this time we do not have a number. We will keep you posted...”

My eyes remained glued to the TV for hours, devouring every little morsel the news offered: There were actually five crew onboard, not six. Jake Weston was the lead pilot, not Pilot-Non-Flying. The Coastguard had successfully helped seventy percent of the passengers onto its boats for treatment of hypothermia, shock, and severe injuries. No crew members were being reported alive.

I watched until the evening hours and not a single crew member was reported alive...


It is with sincere sadness that we offer our condolences to the family members of the eight passengers who succumbed to their injuries shortly after the water ditching of Flight 491.

We would also like to offer our prayers to the lead captain of Flight 491, Jake Weston, and first officer, Matthew Clarkson, who were seriously injured in their efforts to get every passenger off the plane.



New York (JFK)

My head was throbbing and my throat felt as if someone had set it afire.

I attempted to sit up, but I couldn’t move. My limbs felt too heavy, and as I strained to open my eyes, I saw Gillian sitting next to me.

Even though she was sleeping, her face was red and her cheeks were wet. Her hand was resting on my chest, and she was holding a collectible Coke can in her lap.

I glanced at the other side of the room and saw hundreds of flower arrangements, balloons, and

“Get Well Soon” posters. I attempted to sit up once more, but the more I tried, the wearier I became, so I shut my eyes and sighed.

I wasn’t sure how long I lay like that, but the next thing I heard was my father’s voice.

“Gillian?” he called. “Gillian?”

“Yes?” Her voice was barely a whisper.

“You’ve been here two weeks straight. Go home and get some rest.”

“No, thank you.”

“Maybe he’ll wake up for more than a few seconds tomorrow,” he said. “You need to take care of yourself while we wait.”

“I said, no thank you. I’m okay. Trust me.” She sounded sincere, but even in my state, I knew she was lying.

“With all due respect, Gillian,” he said, “I’m not asking you. I’m telling you.”

“Then who stays here? You? He hates you.”

“I don’t think you’re in his best graces either right now, Taylor G.”


“Get some rest for two days and come back. If he wakes up between now and then, you’ll be my first call.” He actually sounded believable. “And you can stay at the hotel across the street. I already set up a room in your name.”

She sighed.

“And thank you very much, in advance, for continuing to stay mum on your visit here, Taylor G.”

She didn’t respond to that, and the next thing I felt were her lips pressed against my forehead. I heard her whisper, “I love you” and then I couldn’t force myself to stay awake another second.


Weeks later...

“Sir! Sir!” A nurse walked into my room. “Sir, get back in the bed. Now.”

“I’d rather not.” I looked out the window. “Where’s the doctor? Tell him I’d like to be cleared today.”

She walked over to me and crossed her arms. “Mr. Weston, I’m going to ask you very nicely to get back into your bed.”

“Okay.” I remained by the window. “I’ll wait for you to actually ask.”

“Mark!” She yelled. “Mark!”

Within seconds, a bulky man dressed in all white entered the room.

“You, again?” he asked, shaking his head at me. “Please don’t make me pick you up and put you in your bed. I’ll be forced to use a hand strap on one of your arms this time, sir.”

Groaning, I rolled my eyes and walked over to the bed, slipping under the thin sheets.

“Thank you.” The nurse smiled at Mark, then scowled at me.

“According to your chart, you’ve suffered a laceration to the head, hypothermic shock, severe right ankle sprain, and two broken fingers on your left hand. Do you honestly think you’re clear to go today?”

“It clearly doesn’t matter what I think.”

“It doesn’t.” She smiled and checked my vitals. “You have a visitor. Are you up to seeing anyone?”

“Depends on who it is.”

“It’s a Mr. Pearson,” she said, quickly lowering her voice. “The CEO of your airline, I believe.”