Black Box

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Description:

Mikki and Crush have crossed paths twice before, but they’ve never met. Their first encounter changed Mikki’s life forever, but their second meeting left them both scarred from a violent attack.

Three years after the attack, Mikki and Crush both book a flight to Los Angeles to escape the memories of the past and expectations of their families. Crush plans to record a song he wrote for a girl he doesn’t even know: Black Box. He’s never felt his life had any purpose, until he meets Mikki in Terminal B.

When Mikki and Crush cross paths for the third time in Terminal B, neither has any idea who the other person is; until they slowly piece together their history and realize fate has more in store for them than just another love story.

Chapter 1

MIKKI

January 8th

The moment you realize you’re going to die is nothing like I imagined it would be. I imagined a deep internal struggle coupled with a visceral, physical response – fight or flight. But there’s no fighting this. I’m going to die.

It’s possible that everyone on this plane is going to die. I wonder if they feel this overwhelming sense of peace, or if the squeal of the plane engine has drowned out all their thoughts.

He grabs the oxygen mask as it drops from the compartment and he’s yelling something as he puts the elastic band over my head. He pulls his own mask over his head then he grabs my hand and looks me in the eye. There’s no panic in his eyes. Maybe he feels this same calm I’m feeling. Or maybe he just wants me to know that he loves me.

He loves me.

Or maybe the look in his eyes is his way of telling me he trusts that whatever happens to us in the next few seconds was meant to be.

Fate.

I used to think fate was for religious nuts and people who were too afraid to take their fate into their own hands. Now I know the truth.

Chapter 2

MIKKI

January 3rd

Rina,

Please don’t look for me. You probably won’t find me. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, and please don’t blame yourselves. I’m just tired. Trying to cope … trying to forget … It’s not enough anymore. I just want to close my eyes and know that it will all be over soon. There’s nothing anyone could have done. You’ve all done more than enough. I hope you all find peace knowing I am no longer suffering. I love you guys. Tell Meaghan I leave her my black box.

Mikki

I used to write long suicide letters, but I don’t see the point in it anymore. If I’m going to leave this world a better place, I don’t want to leave behind a ten-page letter detailing all my emotional baggage. Besides, most of the people who know me, the ones close enough to read the letter, already know how screwed up I am.

I tuck the note inside a plastic baggie and seal it tightly, then I lift my bedroom window an inch and lay the bagged note on the windowsill. I shut the window tight to trap the note there.

Taking one last look around the bedroom, I smile as I think of how much I won’t miss this house. The pink tulip-shaped knit cap my best friend Rina bought for me in Holland sits on top of my dresser. I’ve only worn it once, the day she brought it back for me from her family vacation last summer. I was in High Point Treatment Center at the time, in the dual diagnosis unit because I’m one of the special cases that needed treatment for attempted suicide and drug detox.

“You look awfully cheerful for someone who’s traveling alone.” Meaghan’s green eyes follow my suitcase as I drag it behind me, violently bumping along the stairs.

My sister is seventeen, but she’s not stupid. She knows the signs, which is why I’m trying my hardest not to exhibit the typical suicidal behavior. I didn’t give away all my belongings. I’m not traveling light. I have tried not to appear too chipper over the last couple of days. Yes, it feels amazing to have a plan. It feels like a ten-ton slab of cement has been lifted off my chest. I can breathe. I can think about the future without the crippling anxiety and depression that comes with not knowing if the pain will ever end.

But I can’t let Meaghan or my parents see how ridiculously relieved I’m feeling. They’ve seen that behavior too many times. The last time I made plans to die, three months ago, my mom saw the signs and followed me to the hotel room where I was going to hang myself. The time before that, I swallowed a bottle of pills in my uncle’s bathroom. It was my cousin Gertie who noticed I was acting too happy. She told my Uncle Cort, “Mikki is smiling again.” Uncle Cort broke down the bathroom door and that’s when I ended up in High Point. That’s also when I swore I wouldn’t commit suicide anywhere that someone could find me.

“Cheerful?” I repeat Meaghan’s adjective as I pull up the telescoping handle on the suitcase and roll it across the tiled foyer toward the front door. “More like nervous as fuck. I’ve never flown without Mom.”

Meaghan yanks her green parka out of the coat closet and pulls it on over her hoodie. “I’ll take that.” She pulls the hood of the parka over her long, brown hair and grabs my carry-on bag.

I open the door and we both suck in a sharp breath when we’re blasted with a flurry of freezing winter air. The snow sticks to my face and I quickly close the front door so it doesn’t get inside the house.

“Jesus fucking Christ. It’s colder than a witch’s tit out here. They’re going to cancel the flights if this shit keeps up,” Meaghan says as we carefully descend the front steps. My dad covered the steps in his special mixture of salt and sand, but it’s not foolproof.

“I have to at least show up. I saved up three months’ paychecks for this fucking ticket.”

Meaghan opens the wooden front gate and the cab driver scurries out of the car to help us with the bags. As he stuffs the bags into the trunk, I turn to Meaghan and she’s crying. Something tells me she knows. But she would stop me if she knew – wouldn’t she?

“Why are you crying? It’s just a job interview. I’m coming back in four days.”

“I know.” She wraps her arms around my waist and squeezes me so tight it hurts. I wish I could make myself cry. “I’ll miss you. Bring me back a hot actor.”

“I will.”

We hug like this for far longer than normal. It takes every bit of self-control in me not to tell her that everything will finally be okay when I’m gone.

At last she pulls away and punches my arm. “Get the fuck out of here.”