I’ve been in love with her since she fluttered into that sterile classroom sweaty from the bike ride and dressed horribly as always, but she’s lived her life and I’ve lived mine. We remained close through texts. Maybe didn’t speak for weeks. Maybe stayed up all night messaging and drinking while the embers burnt low in the relationships we hoped to keep lit. I confided in her one night that I didn’t know how I could be the person my lover wanted me to be. She said I was creating a narrative. She asked why I thought that. I considered it for what felt like a lifetime not lived, and responded:
I guess because I watched my father try to work out what he’d become. What he always thought he should become. Cursing in the garage trying to figure out how to change the oil in the family car without a manual. My doe-eyed mother looking away as my brother and I ran back and forth through a sprinkler on a perfect Spring day.
I never should have crawled out of bed, let alone into the sputtering Sentra to drive to hell in the sky—no subtler form of anarchy—the plane.
Where I travel great distances but never arrive.
Flight gaps and layovers.
Buying coffee at Dulles. Heathrow, the hand that brushes my thigh. JFK dreams of brains blown out. Outside O’Hare, my cigarette that wind soared. LAX feelings. Dallas-Ft. Worth.
I think of nothing but crashes. Water. Crash. Apple juice. Crash. Stroopwafel. Crash.
Wet whistles. That’s working.
I want to fly somewhere and step off to never return.
Where nature’s beauty fights for my apathetic approval then tries harder when I merely acknowledge transcendent efforts with labored sighs.
Spending endless afternoons on boats bobbing. The sun ripping warm shards in my fabric. Clothing, please hang loose and guide me. Wind-rippled. Tussled hair and soft mattresses. Day break sun that battles curtains. I allow it in if I please. If not, we fuck mornings away in controlled darkness. All of the juices. I consume until the well becomes dry. The shivering delights of another’s tongue entering my body. Energy transfers. Thinking about something other than crashes.
“Sir, the overhead bin is full… sir,” I say. “Sir, it’s full. That’s why it’s closed.”
He’s wearing a Hawaiian shirt and a neck pillow and giant headphones. Behind him, the line grows and waits. I imagine biting his neck in a way that elicits life-changing terror in passengers. Choking him with the life-vest and pulling the chord to inflate it. Dragging him through the aisle and off the plane. Instead, he ignores me and keeps trying. With no chance of success, he keeps trying, again and again, to jam it inside.
When she came home with the groceries, I put them away in drawers and on shelves. A distance had grown that neither of us could have quite predicted. It was possibly over, but we didn’t speak of it in the moment. On other shelves I put away other things. When I realized there was nothing left, I wandered outside. I sat alone on the patio that had never been mine outside of the house that I lived in. The sun grew brighter as a dense cloud moved out of its shine. I smoked and felt my throat lymph nodes; they’d been feeling awfully swollen of late. I closed my eyes and listened to the sounds of the neighborhood. Mostly wind and children playing. Someone dragged a garbage can along the asphalt. The last sound I wanted to hear.
Wilson Koewing is a writer from South Carolina. He received an MFA in creative writing from The University of New Orleans. He lives in Denver, Colorado. His work is featured or forthcoming in Pembroke Magazine, Ghost Parachute, Five on the Fifth, X-R-A-Y, The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts and others. He is a fiction reader for Craft Literary.