LUKE: God, I miss them already. I’m back at home all alone after seeing Anna and the kids off at the airport. The snow is getting worse outside. Tired and hungry, I grab some left-overs and drop on the couch with my remote control.
“Breaking News:” CBC blares. “Air Atlantic Flight 971 that took off two hours ago from Ottawa International Airport on its way to Rome has been reported missing with all 232 passengers on board.”
I feel like a million lightning bolts hit my head. NO! It can’t be! I listen again. God, that’s the flight Anna and the kids boarded! I continue to listen for a few moments, stunned beyond words.
The newscaster says that rescue operations are underway. “The Flight was reported missing five hundred miles off the coast of Newfoundland…”
My head is reeling. I frantically call the airlines.
“All circuits are busy. Please try your call again later.”
Damn it! After a couple of tries, I get the automated message. “All our representatives are currently assisting other customers. Please continue to hold..”
I pace myself restlessly with the phone in my hand. Oh Anna! Oh God! Please let them be alive! I beg of the Madonna next to our wedding picture frame although I have never been religious all my life. I see the picture of Anna and myself at our wedding ten years ago, outside the church of Madonna of Seven Pains at Pescara.
“Luke Hutchinson, do you take Anna Marino for your lawful wedded wife, to live in the holy estate of matrimony? Will you love, honour, comfort, and cherish her from this day forward, forsaking all others, keeping only unto her for as long as you both shall live?"
"Anna Marino, do you take Luke Hutchinson for your lawful wedded husband, to live in the holy estate of matrimony? Will you love, honour, comfort, and cherish him from this day forward, forsaking all others, keeping only unto him for as long as you both shall live?"
"I do." All smiles, she beams at me, making me the happiest person on the face of the Earth.
I can’t bear it any more. Ignoring the blizzard, I rush to the airport. It’s a white-out. Fortunately there are not many cars on the road.
Radio news continues to pour in on the Flight 971 that has gone missing without a trace on the Atlantic. Somewhere close to Greenland, it says.
My car skids uncontrollably. I swerve and narrowly miss hitting a car in the front. I finally make it to the airport and rush inside, ignoring someone’s cries that I cannot park there.
I reach the Air Atlantic counter and see scores of people, sullen and grief-stricken. The faces of the staff are deathly pale.
Two hundred and thirty two names of the passengers and crew members run on the screen.
God, please! No!!
I drop on the floor, covering my face and bawling uncontrollably.
Someone puts a comforting hand on my shoulder. The airport staff look at me sympathetically while others awaiting news of their beloved ones acknowledge the pain I’m feeling, their own sorrow not withstanding.
The TV News talks of a massive search and rescue effort off the coast of Newfoundland. It has been several hours and there have been no leads yet. I begin to realize that a plane gone missing in the middle of an ocean can only mean one thing.
Anna.. My dear Anna..
"Will you miss me when I'm gone?" she asks me.
"Every moment I'm awake or asleep"
"Dadddyyyyy...!!" Paulo leaps into my arms as Joey follows suit.
Joey is a hockey fan like me, while Paulo is into soccer taking after his Italian born mom.
Paulo kicks the soccer ball which Joseph blocks with his hockey stick.
I’m still at the airport, sitting, getting up, and walking back and forth like a zombie. A candle light vigil is being held for the passengers and crew members of the flight. My head hurts.
“..Luke Hutchinson..” I hear a faint, familiar voice.
"..please contact Luke Hutchinson.." the voice gets louder.
"Anna?" I turn my head around. Am I imagining things?
".. and tell him that Anna and the children are alive.."
".. please contact Luke Hutchinson... and tell him that Anna and the children are alive.."
Anna’s voice keeps repeating in my head.
For the love of God, I don’t know how I’m hearing the voice or where she is, but I do know that it is her voice, and that she is alive somewhere with my kids!
“She is alive! My children are alive!” I yell like a mad man, as onlookers and the airport staff look at me sympathetically.
"I will find you Anna! I will come for you!"