John taxied the plane to the opposite end of the small airstrip, turned it into the wind as he usually did, and prepared to shut down. As he reached down to grab his check list, he caught a glimpse of sudden movement from the crowd. At the same time, Digul recognized his mother and began rocking in excitement, waving his arms, and shouting. This added to the urgency of Digul’s crying mother as she bolted toward the plane.
“John, look out!” Marta warned, at the same time waving the excited mother back.
“Noooo!” John screamed, reaching for the throttle to still the whirling blades.
John stared blankly as he shook off the fear. That was almost a catastrophe, he thought as his door swung open. He was not completely aware of the many hands that rubbed his arms and patted his head. He wanted to just lie back and sigh as he recovered from the shock. As he sat shaking, he saw Marta being pulled from the plane, as everyone wanted to hug her. It wasn’t until the plane started rocking as many bodies bumped against it that John become fully aware of the celebration.
Digul’s mother cried and held Marta in thanksgiving as some men helped Digul out of the back. They stepped back aghast at the hard structure on his leg. For a long minute, the celebration came to an abrupt end. The poor kid just stood there with his head cocked to one side trying to understand. His mother began to approach him cautiously, not wanting to hurt her son, who just two days before lay on his death bed. Seeing his mother only a few yards away he tried to walk toward her, but only stumbled.
Finally recovered from his scare, John emerged from the plane with the crutches and fell in behind Marta and the boys.
Digul was proud of himself for being able to slowly walk to his mother. He stopped and beamed a bright smile of accomplishment. He struggled to get his arms free and held them out to his mother.
Suddenly the spell was broken, as the mother once again rushed to her son. She held him close as the people began cheering. They understood he had recovered, and he wasn’t a ghost.
Digul took up his crutches and followed the rest of his people to the village as the excitement wore off, leaving John and Marta alone. They stood together leaning against the plane, each enjoying the cool air blowing in from the east and swirling around them. It was quiet now and they could actually hear the breeze whispering gently over the plane. In the distance, playing monkeys caused tree tops to sway vigorously.
Jeffrey W. Bennett, is the author of Commitment-A Novel and other non-fiction books, novels and periodicals.