The plane bucks violently and the brave stewardess is thrown to the floor. The panting woman behind me screams like a sleeper trying to wake from the nightmare of her own death. Full-scale panic breaks out, with all the dependent wives and all their children sobbing and ululating like Berbers.
Tammi turns to me and, in a voice as calm as if she were reporting how much apples were selling for at the base commissary, tells me, "We're going to die."
On the plane, all noise and all smells stop. Next to me, Tammi's face is red and squinched up from crying, but all I hear is the roar of an airplane's engine. I look around and see the older stewardess fight to get to her feet and the woman who wanted us all to pray to Jesus snatch at her so the stewardess falls down again, but I hear nothing.
Once again, I am the overwrought, unhealthily imaginative child prone to nervous attacks and stomach disorders with a neurotic attachment to my mother and a dangerous dependence upon sugar that I was on my first trip over these waters, and I understand that we are seconds away from going down in a storm over the East China Sea. That everyone will die except for the cowardly young stewardess, who will trample a set of twins and the pilot to escape before the plane sinks, sucking everyone else into the night-black sea.
Excerpted from The Yokota Officers Club by Sarah Bird. Copyright 2001 by Sarah Bird. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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