The DC-8 jolted sharply causing Jacqueline to clutch her armrest. Her father, Jenson, placed his hand reassuringly upon her arm. "It's just a little turbulence," he said. "Nothing to worry about."
She nodded, although she wasn't completely convinced. The other passengers slept on, and she envied them. She desperately hoped that the pilot and crew weren't also catching a bit of shut-eye. The autopilot invention wasn't her favorite creation in the world, and neither was flying. In fact, she loathed entrusting her existence to two wings and a prayer.
She had been in the air for almost thirteen hours and was as wideawake now as she had been when she first boarded. Sleep would be a blessed relief from the anxiety that had produced the mother of all headaches; one that Jacqueline could not medicate, rub away, nor wish away. Her headache radiated from a "bull's eye" located on her forehead or rather the temple region directly above her left eye. All her headaches originated there.
"We'll be in Buenos Aires in about an hour," Jenson continued. "Too bad you couldn't see the Andes. It's been a couple of years since I've seen them. They're quite beautiful."
"Were you on an assignment?"
"Can you talk about it?"
He shook his head, no.
"I understand." The jetliner dropped suddenly. She squeezed her eyes shut and moaned, "Why didn't my twin live closer?"
"You really want an answer?"
"Not really," she groaned, her eyes still squeezed shut.
He implicitly understood. Personality wise, she reminded him of Michelle, his beloved wife and Jacqueline's mother, who also had a fear of planes and the same stubbornness. However, physically speaking, Jacqueline reminded him more of his youthful self with her dark auburn hair, deep-set greenish-brown eyes, and high cheekbones.
Oh, to be twenty-seven again, he lamented silently, and to have the chance to right the wrongs of the past. Wishful thinking, however, does not turn back the hands of time. A fact he knew only too well. He absently rubbed his hand through his thick graying hair and looked out upon the dark sky enveloping the DC-8. In the distance, a glimmer of sunlight peaked over the eastern horizon.
"How can you look out there?" she asked.
"It's beautiful. Soon we'll see the Pampas."
"The Pampas," he repeated as if the term was a definition in itself. "Argentina's agricultural region. They stretch out for about 300,000 miles."
"Oh, sounds nice. But I think it'd be more beautiful if you pulled down the shade," she said reaching for it.
He stopped her. "Not yet. We need to go over our notes."
"Not again, please. I've been doing it nonstop for thirteen hours, and I've got a terrible headache."
"Just a short review," he proposed. "Then, nous avons termine, we are finished."
"Please, I know what to do."
"But there's always something unexpected. A move not anticipated. You can never be too prepared--"
"Nothing is as it appears to be," she said completing his warning.
"Exactement," he agreed. Perhaps she had been listening for all those months. He handed her a few onion-thin pieces of paper with encrypted notes. "So, let's start with her code name. I'm sure you're well aware of its significance."
"Eva Braun...yep...at least they could have given her something a little more discreet." Her headache intensified with each word she spoke.
"We have good reason to believe that your sister chose it. And that alone should heighten your guard."
"It's heightened..." Cursorily, she scanned the information. "Okay...okay, I know this, I really do. You have been a great teacher."
He hoped she was right.
She handed the notes back and said, "Please, don't worry so much." She actually knew these notes forwards and backwards, and whenever he quizzed her, she never failed to amaze him. She knew which South American countries had hidden Nazi criminals. She knew about Campo Muerte, the barricaded Nazi compound in the Andes and the elite group of SS who still oversaw it. She had memorized the men's names, pasts, and crimes. But she had never completely understood why these war criminals were significant to their mission. The information on her sister had been minimal. The photos were fuzzy. It was as though her sister had been flying under the radar, so to speak.
Nonetheless, she had a connection with her twin that she couldn't describe. Eva was a victim of the Holocaust, just like she was, just like their mother. She knew, without a doubt, that Eva wanted to be rescued. She also knew when she and Eva were reunited they would both discover the missing element of sisterhood that had eluded their childhood, making them finally whole.
She had shared these thoughts with no one; not her father, not even her fiance, Jeffrey. Another secret she had shared with no one, in fact a secret she had tried to hide from her conscious self, was that she partially blamed her mother for the problems she had during her childhood and for those that had followed her into adulthood. During the past several months, her sympathy for her mother had turned to anger, a slow-burning selfish type. Recently she began reasoning that if her mother, Michelle, had kept her eyes open and read the blatantly ominous signs of the dark times during the Second World War, she could have avoided being imprisoned, and ultimately would have saved her own life. In the long scope of history, this would have positively changed her twin daughters' lives.
Although Jacqueline didn't want to fall into the classic blame the victim reasoning, she'd be damned if she would ever feel as helpless as her mother. She was determined to do the opposite in her life. Therefore, she focused upon being independent and the master of her future. In addition, she was determined that her sister would have the same opportunity for freedom and independence which, up to now, had been denied her.
Jenson opened his mouth for an impromptu quiz, but she quickly placed her fingers over his lips. "Listen, Dad, if I may be so bold as to call you that, after all the hell I've gone through with Steinbeck, no one's going to take me by surprise."
He gently pushed her fingers aside. "He was your physician, oui?"
"A physician who preferred murder to healing," she replied. She didn't want to rehash that nightmare, so she withdrew. That was her favorite coping mechanism. She reclined and closed her eyes, thus ending the conversation. She yawned and then added, "Time for a little nap."
Silently, Jenson shook his head and wondered if he should press the issue. He wondered if this was the moment for truth, the moment to inform Jacqueline she wouldn't be welcomed with open arms. Instead she might be feared and hated since she was part of a plot to kidnap her sister. She wasn't as informed as she thought she was; rather, she was being treated on a need to know basis. His daughter, his long-lost child, didn't realize that she was flying into a hell worse than her most terrifying nightmare. She didn't know anything about the brainwashing that Eva had endured. She didn't know that Eva needed to be re-educated and taught the truth of the Second World War and life in general.
Jumbled emotions coursed through his mind as he began shredding his notes. There would be no more time for planning, no more time for anticipating, and no time for retreating. All his years with the French Resistance would help him, and perhaps Jacqueline, if his lessons had been enough to prepare her for their mission. He also knew that he would be watching her back, even if she didn't think she needed protection.
Jacqueline didn't feel the next jolt of turbulence because she had actually dozed off and was sleeping. Her eyelids twitched slightly as neurons flashed and a dream danced within her mind. For a few moments, the DC-8 ceased to exist, and she was transported to another place, a field surrounded by thick woods. A soft breeze was playing with her hair, tugging and pulling her into the other realm.
I wish your sweet dream could last forever. Jenson looked at her. For this may be your last flight of fancy.