|Avery was a young woman whose biggest dream was to fly. "How romantic," she would think as she gazed up into the sky at the planes. "I’ll do whatever it takes to fly one someday. I don’t care that only 7% of all pilots are women."
Fast forwarding to a few years later, Avery completed ground school. Finally, it was time to take off. As she crossed the tarmac to board her plane just before dawn on a blustery September day, her flight instructor accompanied her. “Soon you’ll fly as high as those birds,” he said to her, gesticulating to the flock above.
“Just like I do in my dreams,” she replied.
“Everyone gets nervous their first time flying solo. Do you feel ready?” he asked.
Avery gazed at the Cessna. It was a dull white, with narrow blue lines running from the nose to the tail and another blue line across the top. It’s amazing, she thought to herself, and I’ve wanted this for so long… Looking back at her instructor, she answered, “Yes. I can feel it.”
“Good luck,” he said, before waving goodbye. “You can do this.”
Avery opened the door of the Cessna and climbed inside. Looking over the myriad controls, she mentally went through all the preparations prior to a successful flight. Once ready, she took a deep breath and pulled back on the lever. As the plane lost contact with the earth, she caught her breath and felt her heart beat faster, taking in the sheer adrenaline rush. Everything was so much brighter from above.
The most critical part of the journey, from a technical perspective, is the period immediately after takeoff. The sun was luminously bright, and the sky was clear with miles of visibility. There appeared to be no imminent danger.
She looked below to see fields, where the farmhouses and silos seemed as if they were smaller than the dollhouse she owned as a child. The surrounding land resembled a quilt of various shades of green. Everything was so peaceful… wait! Why was she losing altitude?
As the craft began to plummet from the sky, she noticed she had lost her engine after narrowly passing that flock of birds – a bird strike! One had got caught in the engine! There was nothing she could do, and to make matters worse, she was heading right into a large house!
She ejected split-seconds before the plane hit the structure, resulting in a fiery crash. Her eyes widened as she floated to the ground in her parachute and saw the structure go up in flames. A few moments, and she could hear the sirens before crashing to the ground.
She lay there on her side in shock, her face bleeding, for what seemed like an eternity. She was barely cognizant of a paramedic turning her onto her back and assessing her injuries before he and a few others loaded her on a gurney and into a waiting ambulance.
Since the accident took place out in the country, it was some time before they made it to the downtown hospital. Her vision was blurred as they rolled her through the ER, hardly conscious.
She felt a soft, warm touch on her hand. She focused her strained eyes on the source of the sensation, beholding a young, attractive physician who looked to be about her age.
“You took quite a beating there,” he said to her. “You’re not in very good shape right now, but I’ll try to fix that.”
“Am I going to be okay?” she softly gasped.
“Can’t tell yet. But we’ll do our best,” he answered. “Are you in much pain right now?”
She tried to reply, but no words came out of her mouth. After a moment she could see the doctor’s lips moving but she could hear nothing. Gradually, she felt like she was floating near the ceiling, looking down on the doctor as he and a few others tried to revive her. She saw a bright light up ahead and tried to ascend into it but then a sucking sensation pulled her back down. She opened her eyes and saw the doctor, whose eyes had grown large, breathe a sigh of relief. “What just happened?” she asked.
“We almost lost you,” he said. “Good thing we got you back.”
“You…you saved me,” she whispered. She gazed into his sky-blue eyes with an intensity she had never before known. It was if a seed had been planted in her heart.
Later that evening, after getting settled in, Avery watched the news on the TV above her bed. “Breaking news – a pilot crashed her plane into a local house earlier today…” said the news anchor.
“They’re making it sound like I did it intentionally – it was a freaking bird strike. There was nothing I could have done about it,” said Avery to herself.
“The pilot was identified as 27 year-old Avery Fox. She was on her first solo flight. We spoke to her instructor at the private airport,” said the anchor.
The camera then cut to the instructor, who said, “She was always a good student, and we did not expect anything like this. We’re just grateful that no one died.”
The news anchor reappeared with the words, “The house belonged to the head ER doctor at the hospital downtown. He was unavailable for comment.”
Great way to make a first impression on a hot dude – crash into his house, thought Avery.
A couple of days later, Avery fell into a deep sleep, despite the fact it was midday. A nurse gently woke her to take her vital signs. As the nurse worked, Avery asked, “Who is that young doctor with the sky-blue eyes?”
“Oh, that’s Dr. M,” she answered. “He triages the patients in the ER. He also helps out on other units.”
“What does the M stand for?” asked Avery.
“No one really knows. No one has ever had the guts to ask him,” answered the nurse as she took Avery’s blood pressure. “We nurses don’t ask questions – we just do as we are told.” She recorded the blood pressure on her clipboard and said, “Thanks Ms. Avery. Give a ring if there’s anything you need,” before moving on to the next patient.
“Okay, thanks,” said Avery. What could the M stand for? she wondered. How mysterious…
About half an hour later, Dr. M passed Avery’s room. He popped his head in with the words, “Anything I can do for you?”
Avery looked into the sky-blue eyes for a split-second and then to the floor. “I’m really sorry about your house,” she said softly. “I’d make it up to you if I could.”
“Thanks, I appreciate that,” he answered calmly. “I’ll find another eventually. It wasn’t the end of the world.”
“You must hate my guts for it,” said Avery.
“Of course not,” he said, looking down upon the distraught pilot. Her light brown hair was in her face, so he softly stroked it back and gazed into her auburn eyes with the words, “I heard it was a bird strike and that it wasn’t your fault.”
She looked up at the doctor, noticing his straight, shining teeth and immaculate, perfectly groomed complexion. He is luminously gorgeous, like an angel, she thought. I wish I could kiss him…I could but I’d land in pretty hot water for it…
“Well, I’ve got to roll, see you later,” he said after a moment and started to leave.
“Wait,” said Avery. “Could you please help me with something?”
“What is it?” he asked her patiently.
“That nurse woke me up to take my vitals and now I can’t get back to sleep. I know it’s the middle of the day –“ said Avery.
“But you still need your rest,” he said, finishing her sentence.
“Exactly,” said Avery. “Is there anything you can do to help me get back to sleep? Could you give me a sleeping pill or something?”
“I can do better - I can sing you a lullaby,” he answered. Coming over to her bedside, Dr. M took Avery’s hand, gently stroked it, and sang to her. He sounds like an angel, thought Avery as she drifted off to sleep.
In time she fully recovered and was sent home. She reveled in the familiarity of sleeping in her own bed and her own room for the first time in weeks. The walls were purple and had white trim, which matched the floral pattern on the blanket. The floor and desk were wood, and a purple rug sat next to the bed. A round, purple lamp sat on the desk. She pulled the covers up over her head in pure comfort. Before long, she could no longer keep her eyes open.
She heard a knock on the door. Looking out the window and into the garden, she could see a couple of her girlfriends standing on the porch. She rose, donned a bathrobe, and opened the door.
“Hey, we’re going down to the The Hub for dinner. It’s a brand new nightclub. We’ll see if we can get some attention. You coming?”
“Sure,” she replied. “Give me a sec.” She quickly dressed and joined her friends outside.
“I hear there are some pretty hot dudes who like to hang out there,” said one of them. “I sure could use some romance right about now.”
“So could I,” said the other. “My guy just left me for another man.”
“Bummer,” the other two said in unison.
Soon they arrived at the club. It was eerily quiet and dark. Avery could barely make out that there were a few small tables surrounding a relatively spacious dance floor. The walls were painted burgundy with black trim, and black and white photos of classic 60’s bands hung on the walls. Soft salsa music played in the background, and a solitary man sat at the bar. The girlfriends excused themselves to go to the ladies’ room, leaving the pilot and the man together with the whole dance floor to themselves.
The man looked towards Avery. His eyebrows jumped as he saw her. It was Dr M. He approached and offered his hand. “Would you like to dance?"
Hell yes! Score!she thought to herself before replying with a simple, “Sure.” She took his hand as they moved towards the center of the dance floor. They grasped each others' wrists and went into a basic step. He moved forward with his left foot, and she stepped back with her right. They then did the opposite before he turned her several times. With each successive turn, her head whipped around and back into those sky-blue eyes. Their hands joined once again, and without losing contact they stepped back from each other before he pulled her into the “sweetheart” step. As he drew her close, she felt her heart flutter. The scent of his cologne only heightened her pleasure. All too soon, the song was over and it was time to sit down.
They sat across from each other at a small table. She put her hand over onto his, reliving for a moment their first encounter. In the low light, it was difficult to tell exactly where her hand stopped and his began. “Are you tired?” he asked. “I have a room reserved for the night. We could go there, if you like.”
“I would love that,” she answered.
“Alright then,” he said, and picked her up. She entwined her arms around his neck as he carried her out the door and into the moonlight. There were roses everywhere and the moon and stars shone intensely. He turned the key in the lock and opened the door. The room was a garden-variety hotel room, with simple, yet comfortable furnishings. Walking over to the bed, he set her down and went to turn on the light.
“No, don’t,” she began, her unjustified insecurities beginning to surface. “The light will only show you as I am. In the dark it is easier to pretend that I am the way I should be…”
“You are fine the way you are,” he interrupted, and turned it on. He went to the mirror to brush his teeth. As he brushed them he kept his eyes on her reflection.
“Come over here,” she said as she began to rise.
He set the toothbrush down and went over to her. “What is it?”
“This is it,” she said, and pounced on him. He fell back onto the bed, with her over him. She put her lips to his ear and whispered, “You have everything I want in a man. You are nice, intelligent, hot as hell, and you have a great career. I adore you, I have since I first laid eyes on you, and I want to start a family with you. I would propose to you if I could.” She then closed her eyes and kissed him – not a peck, but a full blown, passionate smooch, more intense than any she had ever bestowed.
She opened her eyes and realized she was in her own bed, alone. Everything since the girlfriends’ arrival was all a dream, sweet and succulent as it had been. “Damn it!” she said aloud.
Later that week, Avery was buying groceries when she recognized someone across the aisle. It was Dr. M! He seemed so tall when she was in bed but now he was surprisingly the same height as she.
“Hi, Dr. M…may I ask what the M stands for?” said Avery.
“Mistofeles,” he answered.
“Like the character in Cats?” asked Avery.
“Yes,” he sighed. “Everyone asks me that and I get sick of it so I just go by ‘Dr. M’.” he replied. “Fancy meeting you here.”
“I was thinking the same thing,” said Avery. She looked at his cart. It carried a pink cake with purple trim and an assortment of party platters and supplies. “Is someone’s birthday coming up?” she asked.
“Yes,” said Dr. M, “My wife and I are throwing a party for our daughter’s third birthday tomorrow…”
Avery couldn’t make out any more of what he was saying. She was in love with a married man! Not only would their union be socially wrong, but now it would be morally wrong, too. Trying hard not to let him see her cry, she excused herself from the conversation and hid in the ladies room for awhile.
She had to get over him, and fast. “I can’t be in love with someone else’s husband,” she said to herself. “It’s a mortal sin! What am I going to do?” She decided to consult a therapist. It was difficult to find one because of her nocturnal circadian rhythms. By the time she was up and ready to go, all the therapist offices were closed for the night.
Finally she found one who worked evenings. As Avery entered the office for the first time, she saw that the walls were teal and had various photographs and paintings of the ocean hanging on them. The couch was fluffy and light blue, while the desk was solid black. There was also a huge mirror that was designed to look like a sunburst, and several wind chimes hanging from the ceiling. “There’s this doctor who saved my life after my plane crashed and now I’m in love with him, but I just found out he’s married. What should I do?” she asked the therapist.
“You will have to dive into your inner psyche and confront the fact you feel this way,” she answered.
“How do I do that?” asked the pilot as she sat on the edge of her chair.
The therapist leaned back in her chair and said, “I can hypnotize you into a mental state in which you can access your deepest feelings. You will find this emotion personified as something, but I have no idea which shape it will take. Once you meet this personification, you can possibly overcome it and banish it from your mind forever.”
“That is exactly what I want to accomplish,” said the pilot. “I have to exorcise this from my mind before it leads to trouble.” She held her head in her hands.
“When would you like to do this?” asked the therapist as she sipped her coffee.
“As soon as possible, please,” answered the pilot, whose foot twitched nervously.
“We could start right now, if you feel ready,” said the therapist.
“Alright then,” said the therapist as she went to the drawer to get the hypnotic tools. Having retrieved them, she returned to her chair. “Go lie on the couch,” she told Avery, who promptly did so. “Now, don’t take your eyes off this ball,” she said before moving it back and forth like a pendulum. After a few seconds, the pilot was out, never to return.
She found that she was in the living room of a large Victorian house. It was cluttered with all sorts of knickknacks. She looked out the window with the lacy curtains and saw a plane parked outside. Turning her attention back to the interior of the room, she saw that while cluttered, it was still beautiful. There was an intricate yet ornate pattern on the wallpaper in various shades of blue, ranging from cerulean to sky blue to deep sapphire. A grand piano sat in one corner, and a tree of marionettes in another. A model of a biplane sat atop the piano, along with a pile of sheet music. The floor was wood but had a pale blue rug over it.
She went over to the bookshelf and pulled out a thick book. It read, The Aerodynamics of Flight. “I know all about that,” she muttered before making the connection: “All the things I know take the form of books here in my mind.” She pulled out a few more titles: How to Fly a Plane, Common Air Traffic Control Jargon and How to Decipher It, and The Pilot’s Guide to Weather Conditions. Also sitting on the shelf was an address book. She opened it and saw pictures of everyone she had ever known, complete with everything she knew about them. There was a bay window looking out onto a beautiful garden full of yellow roses and monarch butterflies. This was her outlook on life – sunny and pleasant.
She decided to explore the rest of the house. Looking into the hallway, she could see that the house was very large – almost a mansion. There appeared to be several first level rooms with a spiral staircase in the center leading up to the second floor.
She entered the kitchen. It had multiple stoves cooking all sorts of things simultaneously, and as a result was quite steamy. Looking at the stoves, she could see all of the projects she had been working on. There was the painting she was doing on one stove, and the book she was writing on another. There were also a couple of foreign languages cooking. Like the living room, the kitchen was full, but still pretty; the walls were pale yellow, with rich brown cabinets near the ceiling that had bronze handles.
She found the family room. Everything in it was dusty. No one else had come into her life in some time. There were toys and other things from her childhood, but they were all faded and worn. The walls were deep green, with white trim, and the archaic furniture was deep red with gold accents. Also, the curtains were shut tight, as this was a dimension that she seldom permitted anyone else to see.
She ventured up the spiral staircase to the second floor. Straight ahead was the bedroom. As she opened the door, she saw a pretty, pink canopy bed. The wallpaper was light pink with burgundy stripes, and the stripes had little pink hearts on them. There was a rose on the nightstand, and Dr. M was lying on the bed. “Sorry,” she said to him, “but you can’t stay here any more.”
“But why?” asked the doctor, whose eyes had doubled in size.
“Because you’re already in the heart of someone else. You can’t stay here and not in the mind and heart of your wife.”
“We’ve made love in here so many times; look at all those fantasies you had about being with me. Please, let me stay,” he said in an eerie tone.
“I said no,” replied the pilot. “Now, get out.”
“So, you want to play rough, do you? Fine! I am not what you think I am…” he said before morphing into a fire. “I am not Dr. M; I am your feelings for him. And I shall continue to ravage your mind until you do as I say,” he cackled.
“Not going to happen,” said Avery. “Look, I am not going to make him have an affair regardless of how strong you get.”
“You don’t know what you just did, girl,” said the fire. “I will offer you one last chance. Refuse me again and I shall burn this house to the ground, and you will not get out of here alive.”
“You don’t scare me,” she said. She walked over to the flower and cut it.
“There’s no turning back now,” said the fire before setting the bed ablaze. “Run for your life, or you will never awaken from this!”
Avery saw that the window was open. Guessing that she would not have time to run down the stairs and out the door, she jumped out of the window. Looking behind her, she saw that the entire house was ablaze. Next to the burning house was a bright light. This time she ascended into it without being sucked back down.
Upon completing her ascension, she saw that she was standing on a stage. There were thousands of souls and angels in the audience, who were giving her a standing ovation.
“Well done, good and faithful servant,” said The Lord as He opened His arms wide and gave her the best hug she had ever received.
“Where am I?” she asked
“You have finished the good race on Earth and now you are to reap that which you sowed in life. Welcome home,” He said. “This angel will lead you to your dwelling and help you get acclimated.”
“How did I get here?” she asked the angel.
“You never awoke from your trance. Your heart stopped while trying to expel your love for the doctor. The attraction was simply too great,” he replied.
“Will I ever see him again?” she tried to make sense of all this, but could not.
“Only if he comes to Jesus and accepts the sacrifice made for him and all humanity. Otherwise, you will never again cross each others' paths.” The angel looked down at her with a stern expression.
“I’m not sure I could bear that,” she said, gazing below.
“There is one way you can stay with him,” said the angel. “Your spirit could haunt him until it is his time.”
“I want to do that!” She looked back at the angel, her expression excited for the first time since her arrival.
“You would have to remain on Earth in limbo. Are you sure you want to do this?” he asked her.
“I am.” she replied.
“Very well, then. You shall haunt the earth,” he said. He led her to the edge of the Kingdom, where there was a large hole. She looked down it and onto the earth before diving back in.
Upon her arrival, she realized that she, Dr. M, and Mrs. Mistofeles were in the kitchen of a newly – built house. Not everything was unpacked yet, and boxes were lying around on the coral carpet. The freshly painted white walls still had painter's tape on them. The wife read a newspaper as the doctor fixed himself a cup of coffee.
Mrs. Mistofeles opened the obituary section and looked at the first column. “Look honey, that pilot who crashed into our house passed away.”
“You mean Avery Fox? How did she die? Did we discharge her too soon?” said Dr. M.
“It doesn’t say,” answered Mrs. Mistofeles.
“It’s my fault,” cried Dr. M, “I knew we should have kept her longer.” He sat with his head in his hands, fighting back tears.
Mrs. Mistofeles came to his side and gave him a hug. “Now, honey, you don’t know it was your fault. It could have been caused by anything. You saw her a few days ago and she was fine. Don’t be so hard on yourself.”
“When is the funeral?” asked Dr. M.
“It’s next Friday.”
“We have to go,” wept Dr. M
“Honey, you barely knew her. Let her go,” said Mrs. Mistofeles.
“We still have to go,” he cried.
When they arrived at the church a couple days later it was filled to capacity. While standing in line to view her, Dr. M marveled that she had touched so many lives. Soon, it was his turn. He softly stroked her ice-cold hand, just like he did when he sang to her. “This time she won’t wake up,” wept Dr. M.
A few hours later, just after the end of the service, he placed a white rose on the fresh grave. As he was agonizing himself with the belief that he had caused all of this, he felt a touch on his shoulder. He turned around, but saw no one. He turned back to the headstone before feeling it again. This time he looked behind and saw a bright orb. After glowing for a minute, it took the form of a young woman.
Dr. M gasped with a look of horror on his face and tried to scream, but no sound came out. “Don’t be scared or upset, Dr. Mistofeles,” said the apparition. “I am not gone. I’ll be with you the rest of your life. You see, I gave up Heaven for now so I could stay by your side until you finish.”
As he started to regain his composure, he said “I’ll never forgive myself for this.”
“It’s not your fault that my heart stopped as I tried to expel my love for you,” whispered Avery. “That was my weakness, not yours.”
“Very much,” replied Avery. “But I didn’t want you to know because I thought it would make you uncomfortable.”
“I’m not uncomfortable with it,” said Dr. M. “I’m flattered.”
“I hope your wife realizes how lucky she is,” said Avery. “You haven’t lost me, you have gained me since I will be with you all the way until your time. Think of me as your guardian angel.”
As Dr. M continued working in the ER, every so often he would see her face in a mirror, or hear her voice whispering in his ear. Sometimes she would speak to him in his dreams. While he forgot most of his patients, he always remembered her as his favorite, with their bond transcending life and death.