The shade is up, but this time, the window offers a view of dark pines flitting past us like an accelerated movie reel. A lake glistens in the distance, reflecting the pale light of the moon. This isn’t so bad, I think. To see something so magnificent, so natural, right before we die. I always loved the water: lakes, oceans, pools. I always felt at home there.

Then, I let it all go, finding Colin’s gaze instead. It’s only us now, our paths converging in a spiraling nowhere. As I try to process what it means to be with this familiar stranger, a strange serenity floats over me. It’s as if all the thousands of horrible moments before this one have distilled themselves into something meaningful, something almost like fate. “You have the bluest eyes,” I say.

A lone tear rolls down his cheek, the kind that comes without warning or expectation. I want to touch it. I want to make things right again.

Then, a roar. It sounds like the fingers of God scraping the belly of the plane, a gritty screech that makes my blood hum.

“Don’t be afraid,” he breathes.

And then we hit.