Home for Christmas
It was Christmas Eve, and Leighanne Littrell sat, warm and cozy, in her living room, a toasty fire crackling in the fireplace next to her. A bright, sparkling, beautiful Christmas tree stood feet away from her, illuminating the room with its colorful glow. Anyone looking into the room from outside, where the snow whipped around fiercely with the bitter cold wind, would see a cozy, happy scene before them. But inside the house, all was not happy. Leighanne was not happy. She was worried. Very worried.
It had been hours since her husband, Brian, had been due home, and still, there was no sign of him. He had been on tour with the rest of the Backstreet Boys, and their last concert of the year had been in New York, the day before. He was supposed to have caught a flight from New York back home to Atlanta that morning and be back by late afternoon, safe and sound at home, ready to spend a quiet Christmas with his lovely new wife. But dark had fallen hours ago, and Brian was not yet home. Leighanne had called the airport for the first time hours ago, and they had told her his flight had been delayed because of snow, but only by an hour. So, after waiting two more hours, she had called again, and once again, she was told the flight had been delayed again.
The last time she had called, just an hour before, she had been told the flight had taken off and would be arriving around nine that night. It was now after nine, and she sat anxiously, praying her beloved husband would make it home soon. She could tell by looking out the window that the snow was falling heavily, and she didn’t want Brian out in that weather. He was supposed to be taking a taxi home from the airport. She just hoped he would get a safe driver to bring him home in one piece.
Determined to get her mind off her worries, Leighanne flipped on the television. She flipped through the channels, hoping to catch a good movie on, maybe a Christmas one. She passed one of the local stations, then stopped, and flipped back. Her heart skipped a beat as she gaped at the scene on the television. The news had come on, and she saw a plane, surrounded by flames. The picture changed to a news reporter, who said gravely, “Once again, American Airlines, Flight 411, New York to Atlanta, crashed not even an hour ago, while on route to Atlanta. Causes are yet unknown, but are predicted to be adverse weather conditions. As of now, reports say there are no survivors. I repeat, there are said to be no survivors.”
Leighanne began to shake uncontrollably, and her eyes erupted in tears, as she began to sob. American Airlines, Flight 411. That was Brian’s flight, she was positive of it. After all, she had called the airport inquiring about that very plane just an hour before, right before the flight had crashed. And now, it had crashed, leaving no survivors. No survivors. The reporter’s horrible words echoed through Leighanne’s mind, which spun with her whirling thoughts and panic.
She was stricken with panic, not knowing what to do. Should she call someone? Brian’s parents, maybe, or the guys? Had they seen the news cast yet? She shook her head, knowing her hands were trembling too much to dial a phone number anyway.
Leighanne didn’t know how long she sat there, watching the horrific scenes of the plane crash on the news, her whole body cold and numb with fear. But suddenly, there was a knock at the door. Her heart nearly leapt out of her chest as she gasped, startled by the sudden noise.
Who could that be, coming to her door on Christmas Eve? Especially after she had just found out her husband had been killed. Didn’t they have any respect? Leighanne wanted to just bury herself under a blanket and sob, ignoring the person at the door. But she did not. Sighing, she slowly climbed to her feet and went to the door. She tugged it open without bothering to peer through the small peephole. A gust of wind and snow blew in, sending chills through Leighanne’s body. The front porch was dim, and she could make out a figure, but she couldn’t tell who it was. She quickly flipped on the porch light and looked out, through the thick, falling snow, to see who was standing there. Suddenly, her blue eyes widened in shock as she recognized him. It was Brian.
Once again, Leighanne’s heart skipped a beat, and she began to sob again. But this time, it was out of utter joy. “Brian!” she shrieked, throwing her arms around him and knocking his bulky suitcases from his arms. She pulled him close to her, not caring how cold and wet from the snow he was.
“Wow, nice to see you too, honey,” Brian said, chuckling, but his eyes held a happy glow that Leighanne would forever remember.
“Come in, baby, you must be freezing!” Leighanne exclaimed, coming back to her senses. She grabbed one of Brian’s big suitcases and hoisted it inside, Brian following her in with his other bags. They both dropped the suitcases in the foyer, and Brian shut and locked the front door behind him, cutting off the draft from outside.
Once Brian had taken off his coat, Leighanne hugged him again, burying her head into his chest and beginning to cry softly again, leaving tearstains on his dark green sweater.
“Honey, what’s wrong?” Brian asked, cupping Leighanne’s chin in his and lifting her face up so that her gaze met his. His eyes expressed his concern.
“The… the plane cr-“ It was then that Leighanne became puzzled. The news report had said over and over that there had been no survivors in the plane crash. And Brian didn’t even seem to know about it.
“What?” Brian asked. “What about the plane?”
“Where have you been?” Leighanne asked, ignoring his question.
“Well, that’s a long story,” Brian began. “You see, the flight I was scheduled to be on kept getting delayed cause of the snow. So I was sitting at this airport, in New York, just waiting. After I’d waited awhile, this old man came over and started talking to me. He was waiting for a flight too, one that was heading to Florida, but stopped in Atlanta along the way. It was around four by then, and his flight was supposed to take off at four-thirty. We started talking, and I asked him where he was going. He said he was going to Florida to stay with his son and grandchildren over Christmas. Then he asked where I was going, and I told him I was heading home to see my wife. He smiled, kinda sadly, and told me that his wife had passed away two years ago. We waited a little longer, and my flight still wasn’t coming in. It came time for his flight to arrive, and it was still on time, so you know what he did? He gave me his ticket and said, ‘Here, you take this and go on home to your wife.’ I insisted that I couldn’t take his ticket, but he kept insisting that it was fine. He said to me, ‘My son and his family will be okay if I don’t make it home until late this night. They all have each other. But your wife’s all alone, and I bet she’s worrying about you. No one should have to sit all alone and worry about her husband on Christmas Eve. Plus, you should spend every minute you can with her now, while you still can. You never know when the two of you won’t have any time left to spend together. Life can be very short.’ I knew he was thinking about his wife, and that made me almost want to cry. He wouldn’t back down, and so I finally gave in and switched tickets with him. I got on his flight and made it to Atlanta about an hour ago.”
Leighanne stared at him, tears in her eyes. “What a nice man,” she murmured.
Brian nodded. “I hope he’s on his way to his son’s house now,” he said. “I’m sure his family misses him.”
Leighanne suddenly gasped. “You gave him your ticket?” she asked.
“Yeah,” Brian said. “Why?”
“Oh, Brian,” Leighanne said softly, “the plane you were supposed to be on crashed, just awhile ago.” Brian’s eyes widened in horror.
“There were no survivors,” Leighanne continued sadly.
“Oh, my God,” Brian said, his blue eyes filling with tears.
“Brian, if that man hadn’t have given you his ticket, you’d be dead right now,” Leighanne said.
“And if he hadn’t, he’d still be alive,” Brian whispered.
Leighanne nodded sadly. “But just think, honey,” she said. “Now he can be with his wife again for Christmas.”
Brian nodded, smiling sadly, and took Leighanne in his arms. “I hope that will make him happy. I couldn’t imagine spending Christmas without you.”
“And I couldn’t imagine spending it without you,” Leighanne added. “It’s hard to believe I came so close to losing you.”
Brian smiled, and glanced heavenward. Someone had been watching over him that night. Maybe it had been God, or maybe it had just been a kind old man who had given his ticket, and his life, so that another family could be together that Christmas Eve.
Home for Christmas Ó 2000 by Julie