Tuesday, November 26, 2013
Dinner Party: Part 3
Lida strategically placed me at the dinner table between Luke and Alex with Alex on her side of the table. If I had the capacity, I’d think Lida was attempting to keep Alex away from her husband, but I had other things on my mind. Like Henry sitting directly across from me. A neon sign could not have been more distracting.
Dinner was starting to pass by in a haze when Alex put her hand on my arm and whispered, “Are you okay?”
No one else seemed to be paying us any mind, though Henry kept glancing my way like I was a ticking time bomb. I might have ignored him earlier when he tried to ask me something.
“Yeah, sure,” I said, taking another drink. “I’m fine.”
She frowned at me. “I might have to cut you off.”
I put my drink down and attempted to follow the conversation, which now had everyone’s attention.
“…heard about more planes being grounded,” Robert was saying to Luke.
I remembered Lida mentioning something about Luke working with planes; an engineer, I think.
“More are grounded every day,” Luke said. “It’s actually much worse than it is in the press. That’s why my stay has been extended.”
“I thought a solution had been found last week,” Lida said.
“We thought so,” Luke nodded thoughtfully. “But then more systems started malfunctioning. It’s almost like there’s something in the atmosphere that’s making the planes go haywire.”
“Are they crashing?” Juliet said, alarmed.
Luke shook his head, his expression changing to one who feels he might have said too much. “No, no. I mean, there’ve been some close calls, but if there was a big crash, we’d all know about it. It’s smaller things, things like the gauges going wonky, not showing the correct amount of fuel, that sort of thing.”
“Is it only happening here?” Henry asked.
“No. I…” Luke looked at everyone around the table. “I’m not even sure how much I should be telling you.”
“Luke,” Lida said as though she thought her brother unreasonable. “If they shut down the airport or something, everyone will know about it.”
We all turned to Luke like scared children around a camp fire. When had this conversation turned so serious? The grounded planes were a worn topic in the news, but I hadn’t ever given it much thought because the story was always the same: planes grounded, flights cancelled, no real explanation why. Now here was an expert confirming how odd it was.
“It’s happening everywhere,” Luke finally said. “Worldwide.”
Robert sat forward in his chair. “Do you think they’re all related, that one thing is causing it?”
“I don’t know.”
That was a scary thought. What force could possibly cause malfunctions in planes around the world?
The rain continued its pounding of the roof. It hadn’t rained like this all winter. I focused on the sound instead of trying to decipher the airplane conundrum. It made my head hurt.
A bright white light flashed through the giant windows, illuminating the whole room. A boom of thunder followed not two seconds later, and suddenly everyone’s gaze was turned to the windows, the plane discussion forgotten.
“That was close,” Alex said, her eyes wide with excitement. She stood from her chair to look out the window. Even when we were little, Alex always loved thunder storms. She said they were God’s fireworks.
Another flash, another boom.
God might as well have been setting off his fireworks in Lida’s backyard.
“Very close,” Luke said quietly.No one said a word as another clap of thunder sounded overhead.
“How about some dessert?” Lida said cheerily.
...to be continued.
P.S. Part 1 and Part 2, or click the "Dinner party short" link on the right under topics.
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