Excerpt from Angie's Promise, Alma Chronicles III

by Toby Fesler Heathcotte

2009 release by Mardelbooks.com


   “Oh, God, that’s it.  Stop the car!”  Angie dashed out of the sedan and ran after Ty.  “Don’t go...don’t get on that plane...you’ll die if you do.”
     He turned back toward her.  His ragged voice caught.  “Angie, please stop.”
     “Take a different plane,” she cried, clutching his arms.  “What would it hurt?  It might save you.”
     “This is pointless.”  Ty looked toward the Cessna as his pilot climbed over the wing.
     Angie dug her fingertips into the backs of Ty’s arms. “You can’t go. I won’t lose you.  Not again.  I won’t.”
     “I’ve told you over and over?I’m not in any danger.”  Words that might have comforted sounded angry over the engine’s roar.  “You aren’t going to lose me, Babe.”
     “If you fly out of here, you’ll have to kill me to do it.”
     Her hair blew as Angie ran around the Cessna and fell in front of the wheel.  The pilot already in his seat watched her.
     Breathless, she wedged her hips under the airplane wheels and lay on the tarmac, hot from the sun, willing her outrageous act to force him to give in.  The air reeked of rubber and gasoline.
     Face set with anger, Ty strode toward her.  “Goddammit, Angie, you’re going to get hurt.”  He knelt beside her and pulled her up into his arms. “You can’t do this to yourself.  Or to me.”  He cradled her, rocking gently.
     “I saw this very plane.”  Angie searched his face for acquiescence.  “The numbers were the same.  How could I know?”  Struggling to convince him, she started again.  “I saw it.  White with Navy blue letters!  It exploded in mid-air.  Believe me.”
      “I do.”  A look of infinite sadness spread over his cherished features.
     “Then you won’t go?”  Angie touched her hand to her breast. “Oh, thank God.”
     “Darling, I believe you saw the vision.”  Ty patted her tangled hair.  “But I’ve got to do my job.”
     “No, Ty.” After all this, did he still not believe her?
     “If we’re going to be married, you’ve got to accept what I do.  Flying is part of the job.”
     “I do accept it.  But this is a warning.”  Angie shouted, hoping volume might persuade him when logic did not.  “The plane is defective.”
     “Calm down, Babe.  It’s been checked out.  That’s routine procedure.”
     Ensign Porter ducked under the wing.  Angie read confusion and perhaps pity on his face but did not care.  She would risk any shame, any disgrace to keep Ty off that plane.  “I won’t let you go.”
     “I’ll be careful.”  His love for her visible in his expression, Ty held her face between his hands.  “There’s nothing else I can do.”
     “You can’t go.”  Her voice rose in terror. “You’ll die.”
     “Ensign...” He called to the young man who stepped behind her.  Ty’s voice sounded calm with a trace of a plea.  “I’ll see you Friday in Phoenix.  On Saturday we’ll be married, and this will be behind us.  I promise.”  He kissed her quickly. “I love you.”
     “Please believe me.”  Angie despaired.
     “I hate to leave you this way, but I have no choice.”  Ty grimaced as if trying to keep back tears.  He pulled her up from the tarmac with him and transferred her into the arms of Ensign Porter.  “Hold her.  Don’t let her follow me, whatever it takes.”
     “Aye, aye, Sir.”
     Ty turned and sprinted around the wing.
     Angie struggled against the young sailor. “Let go of me.”
     “Please calm down, Ma’am.”  Ensign Porter’s hold tightened even though he looked very uneasy.
     Ducking inside the plane, Ty reached out, waved, and closed the cockpit door.  The roaring engine drowned out her cries.  Angie writhed in the ensign’s arms.  Her back against his chest, his arms felt like a vice around her waist as he pulled her up so high her feet left the ground.  She screamed for him to let her go and grabbed his wrists, trying to pry them apart.  She kicked his shins and felt her high heel dig into the flesh of his leg.  He wailed, relaxed his grip, and she broke free.
     Angie ran behind the plane as it taxied down the runway. “Stop, Ty, come back!”  Screams rasped from her throat, drowned in the roar of the plane’s liftoff.  She longed insanely to reach up, grab the plane out of the air, and set it safely back on the earth.  Scrambling past parked planes, she stumbled when a heel broke off one pump.  She kicked off the other and chased the plane, ignoring the rough pavement, hot on bare feet.
     No longer thinking at all, Angie reached the end of the runway and fell.  Her arms supported her as she looked up, gasping and crying.
     The plane climbed higher and farther away.  It banked and circled back over the airstrip.  The ensign and two other crewmen ran down the field toward her.  At a popping sound like a cheap aluminum toy breaking, they stopped and looked up, shielding their eyes.
     For Angie, time stopped.  Like back on the boat, a static image in the sky claimed her attention.  A sense of unreality froze her.
     The ice-white plane hovered momentarily in the still blue air.
     Shafts of orange and gold flame shot out.  The screams of the two helpless men inside rose above the engine’s roar.
     The blazing Cessna dropped to the tarmac with a deafening boom, bounced once, then lay crackling in a pool of hot tar and flaming gasoline.

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