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The Foreboding by Dave Cuzzolina

Several days of soul-searching and wavering finally convinced Colin Finch he had to tell his wife. Deep down he knew it all along. What kept him silent was the difficulty he saw in convincing her of the truth, maybe even of his sanity. But one reason he couldn’t refute tipped the scales in favor of disclosure: the desperate need for her to believe.

He chose the drive home from his sister’s funeral services to open up.

“I knew this was going to happen,” he said softly, right hand atop the steering wheel.

Bundled into the cold leather of the passenger seat, his wife Amanda’s thoughts were elsewhere. Peering out her window at the gray Pennsylvania winter, she lamented how it rendered everything drab, even the typically colorful if unattractive gas stations and fast-food restaurants.

He glanced her way. “Amanda, did you hear me?”

“No,” she replied, trance-like.

“Please listen, Amanda,” he said, pausing to veer their gray sedan onto an entry ramp for the busy interstate and slipping it neatly into the stream of speeding vehicles. “I’m telling you I had a premonition!”

The word drew Amanda’s ears but her eyes stayed on the passing landscape. “Seriously?”

“Yes, dammit! I knew my sister was going to die. In fact, I knew they were all going to die!”

His insistent tone drew her full attention. With both hands she swept back her coat’s black hood to expose shaggy blond hair and a thin, attractive face, and turned blue eyes on his jagged, balding profile. “You’re shitting me, right?”

“I really wish I was,” he replied firmly, “but I know what I saw.”

She sunk back into her seat. “OK, I’ll play along,” she shrugged. “What do you know you saw?”

“It was an aura around her--around all the passengers for that plane. I saw their bodies encircled by yellow rays, like flames.” His eyes left the road ahead for a split second and caught her cynical smile. “Can you keep an open mind?”

Amanda drew in a deep breath. “I don’t think so but go ahead.”

“As soon as Connie made it through the airport security checkpoint, I saw it,” he continued, eyes glued now to the glut of traffic ahead of them. “Around her and other people, seemingly at random. But it wasn’t random.”

“And how did you figure that out?”

“Well, you can imagine how my thoughts were racing. It shook me up. It took a minute or two to convince myself I wasn’t just seeing things. Then it hit me that maybe all those people I saw the aura around were on her flight and suddenly I was overcome with this feeling of doom.”

A car in front cut him off and Colin hit the brakes and laid on his horn in anger. “Son of a bitch!”

“Ease off,” she told him, “you want another road rage incident on your record?”

“Godammit, it’s not my fault when some asshole does that!” He needed some deep breaths before continuing. “So anyway I called her, begged her not to get on that plane, but she obviously didn’t listen.” He paused in sorrowful thought. “I regret not doing more. I should have insisted, maybe even tried to stop the flight.”

She rolled her eyes. “I’m sure the TSA would have loved that.”

“I’m not joking.”

“And that’s what bothers me.”

“I take it you don’t believe me.”

“You take it right.”

He veered the car onto a curvy exit ramp, navigating the last few turns until the snow-covered roof of their white suburban two-story came into view, and said, “How can I convince you?”

“Colin, I’m sorry but you know how I am about these things. I’m going to take a whole lot of convincing to believe it wasn’t something simple like the lighting, or your eyes deceiving you, or your overactive imagination running away with you.”

He exhaled sharply in frustration. “I didn’t expect you to believe me.”

“So why even tell me?”

“Because it’s important that you do believe me!” From the corner of his eye he saw her flinch at his raised voice, and he calmed himself. “Now that I’ve seen it once, I’m deathly afraid I might see it around you some day and you must believe me if I do.”

She sat up straight in her seat. “Look, Colin,” she said, “I know you to be a rational, level-headed person so I’m not necessarily saying I don’t believe you, but I’m not saying I do, either. I’m just a hard sell on the supernatural, an agnostic, and that’s the way I’ll stay unless I experience something like that myself.”

He pulled to a stop on the black rectangle of snow-cleared driveway beside their home and turned off the car’s engine. She reached for the door handle and he gripped her coat sleeve to pull her back.

“Wait, look at me.”

She twisted herself to face him. “What? It’s cold.”

“I want you to look for a job where you don’t have to fly.”

Amanda gaped in disbelief. “Are you nuts? I love my job and I’m not giving it up because you had some sort of silly hallucination.”

“Dammit, Amanda, it was real!” It was a shout of frustration before settling into a softer tone. “Look, I said it in our vows seven years ago and I’ll say it again now. I love you and I wouldn’t want to live without you. Besides, we’re both in our thirties now, and I want to start a family, and you know we can’t do it with you traveling so much.”

“I’m not ready to have kids and I’m not quitting my job.” She pulled away and pushed open the door. “End of conversation.”


But it wasn’t. Colin kept pressing her to change jobs, leading at length to a compromise. He would stop harping on the subject. She agreed he could accompany her to the airport and keep watch until she passed through security, and, most important, listen if he told her not to board a flight. For return trips, he made her promise to video-call him from the gate. He did not know if the aura would be visible on a phone but had no other feasible option.

So it was that on her next business trip he was steering the gray sedan to the airport, and she was finding what seemed acceptable in theory oppressive in practice. She sat statue-like in the passenger seat for the thirty-minute trip, resentful of the badgering that forced her into their agreement. Despite Colin’s attempts to draw her into conversation, she stayed mostly silent.

After snatching a ticket from the machine at the entrance to the airport’s parking garage, he wound his way up six levels before finding an open space. An elevator took them down to the terminal entrance. They navigated concourses teeming with glitzy restaurants and shops, people hurrying in various directions or staring at flight boards, a barely distinct PA system crackling announcements overhead.

Dropping her suitcase at the baggage check, Colin stuck to Amanda’s side all the way to the TSA checkpoint, where he leaned forward to kiss her and she turned away in a huff. Stepping into the line to be scanned, she soon reached the rolling conveyor belt, placed her laptop and phone in a gray bin, and paused in the metal detector. The guard no sooner waved her through than Colin saw it. Brilliant yellow rays shimmered from her body as if it was on fire. Dread sent his heart racing.


She either did not hear his shout or ignored it. Eyes shot his way, first in surprise, then suspicion. Aware of the stares, Colin buried his panic with great effort, hurrying away, turning into a brightly lit corridor with benches lining snow-white walls on both sides of him. He plopped onto the first one offering a modicum of privacy and made a frantic call on his cellphone. It went unanswered. After two more unsuccessful tries, he assumed heatedly she was ignoring him.

He decided he had just one option: Do what he regretted not doing for his sister and go to Amanda and coax her off that plane.

Retracing his steps while frantically tapping his phone, he had an e-ticket for the flight by the time he returned to the checkpoint. The wait would be mercifully short but he couldn’t stand still nonetheless, shifting from one foot to the other, fighting off a sudden queasiness. Once waved through, he hustled to the gate, his heart in an adrenaline-induced gallop. Breathless, he was in time to join the tail end of the boarding line.

With time to think as the line inched ahead, vague doubts made their presence felt. How curious was it that another flight faced doom so soon after his sister’s? Was it his imagination as Amanda had said? Was he so worried about the premonition, he made it appear in his mind? With more questions than answers, the line led him into the plane, where a flight attendant greeted Colin’s anxious face with a perfect, white smile.

He followed the line down the center aisle amid the hollow echo of discordant voices and the low hum of the jet’s idling engines. Swiveling his head left and right, nervous eyes scanning passenger after passenger, he crept forward, bothered suddenly by a fact his scrambled thoughts kept him from grasping sooner: He saw no aura anywhere.

Again he grappled with the notion it was all in his head. But what if the aura only encircled Amanda? What could it mean? A plane can’t go down and just one person die. Maybe a freak runway accident? Or maybe the danger lay not with the flight at all but on the streets of Chicago where work was taking her. Either way, he decided it didn’t matter. If he still saw the aura around her, he would get her off that plane.

Still scanning the cabin unsuccessfully, he was about to give way to his doubts when the aura showed itself. Yellow flames licked over the top of a blue seat-back about ten rows ahead. Another adrenaline surge sent his heart into hyperdrive.

His anxiety grew each time the line stopped for people shelving carry-on bags into overhead bins before dropping into their seats, seemingly in slow motion, until, at last, he approached near enough to raise on tiptoes and take in the sight of two people locked in a kissing embrace, the aura flaming hot around the woman with the shaggy blond hair.

He recognized the man in the window seat as a coworker of his wife’s, and in a split second, his shock turned to fury. He shouted, “Amanda!” Pushing his way through the bodies in front of him, he shouted again. “You bitch!”

Startled, she tore away from her lover’s arms and spun toward the voice to see a face contorted grotesquely with rage, outstretched hands lunging at her throat.

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