Skip to main content

The aircraft began its ascent. 

Myrtle mumbled an inaudible prayer and made a sign of the cross. Dressed in a long-sleeved white blouse and a black skirt long enough for an adult to trip on and injure himself, she gave off a don’t-mess-with-me-else-you’ll-be-crucified look. Looking at the bundle of nerves seated next to him, Nick tried to wipe the smirk off his handsome face but refrained from saying anything. The blue-eyed boy in the aisle blew a bubble gum out of his mouth, startling his mom.

A few moments later, the seat belt sign went off. 

Convinced that the aircraft was in God’s safe hands, Myrtle unfastened the belt with quivering hands and heaved a sigh of relief. Nick did the same, although he was of the firm belief that humans piloted planes and not an invisible pantheon of men (or women, for that matter). 

Conscious of a pair of eyes watching her intently, Myrtle turned to the young man. 

“Anything funny?” she asked in a voice that sounded more like an exasperated mom trying to coax her imp to eat a plate of cooked spinach.

Nick grinned at her. “No, no. Nothing. It’s just …,” he paused for dramatic effect and continued, “You were praying. Are you nervous?”

“Is it a crime nowadays to pray?” Myrtle retorted. 

Nick shook his head. “It’s foolish. I mean, ma’am, you’re praying to an invisible man.”

The blue-eyed boy in the aisle butted in. “Invisible man? Where’s he?” His mom answered his queries with a glare and a yawn. 

Infuriated, Myrtle leaned back in her seat and closed her eyes. Nick picked up a magazine and began to flip the pages. A picture of the Vatican church, followed by the headline, Family of four blessed by Jesus, caught his attention. With a sigh audible enough to startle Myrtle, he squished the glossy pages into a shapeless mass and shoved it inside the seat pocket.

“Seriously!” he murmured. “What’s wrong with people?”  He leaned towards Myrtle and asked in a mischievous tone, “If this plane crashes, will God rescue us?”

Myrtle sighed. “For someone hell-bent on proving God doesn’t exist, you sure are obsessed with Him. What does your so-called scientific and rational mind say?” 

Nick grinned. “If this plane crashes, that means the pilots made an error. Simple. If we land safely, I’ll pat them on their backs for doing a good job. That’s all.”

“So be it,” Myrtle replied. 

Not the one to give up so easily, Nick picked up the crumpled magazine and leafed through it. After a moment, he put it back in its place and turned to Myrtle again. “Do you think God can be a pilot?”

The blue-eyed boy in the aisle woke up his mom. “Hey, mom. God is a pilot.” The dazed mom looked at her boy, Nick, and the cockpit (in that order) and went back to sleep.

If looks could kill, Myrtle would have pinned Nick to a cross and watched him bleed. “Look what you’ve done!”

“Hey, I ….” Nick didn’t get the chance to finish his sentence. The aircraft lurched at that moment. The stewardess, who was on her way to a passenger at the back, did a little jig and clutched at a seat.

The monstrous-looking mass of metal gave another lurch. And another. And another. Myrtle began to pray. The blue-eyed boy in the aisle whistled, “Whoa! God is a pilot.” 

Myrtle began to pray, seeking forgiveness for the agnostic idiot. By this time, Nick had shed his cockiness. He looked around with the air of a trapped mouse, cursing itself for that free cheese. 

Ladies and Gentlemen! We are making an emergency landing. We are returning to……..” 

The blue-eyed boy’s “God is a pilot” muted the rest of the announcement.

“Shut up!” the mom hissed, irate at being woken up. 

Nick began to quiver. “Jesus!” he mumbled, much to Myrtle’s amusement. 

A tense fifteen minutes later, the aircraft landed safely. The collective sigh of relief from the passengers filled the air.

Nick looked at Myrtle. “That was easy.”

The woman smiled. “So…”

Nick shrugged his shoulders. “Hey! Don’t bring God into this. It was the pilot who steered us to safety.”

The blue-eyed boy in the aisle whistled at Nick. “God is a pilot.”

“Aarrgh!” grimaced Nick. 

“Serves you right!” Myrtle had the last laugh. The blue-eyed boy’s mom in the aisle joined her. 


P.C – Unsplash (Samuel’s Photos)


This story was an entry for the India Writing Project Season 4.

Leave a Reply