The Shine Journal

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Pilot Stalks Ex With Plane

by

Courtney McCreary

 

It is the summer of 2006 and I think I can see my ex on the ground, cupping her forehead with her hand and looking up at me in the sky like how Tommy Austen, our six year old neighbor, watches the sun as his mother, Ellie, shouts for him to stop from behind the kitchen window. The window is cracked so she can hear his laughter and yelling mixed with the puttering of the hummingbirds sucking juice from the feeder. Ellie’s on the phone with some Don Draper kind of bastard while her husband works fourteen-hour days. I can’t really see this scene from way up here, but I know it’s happening.


I see my ex-wife and I think she sees me. She must at least recognize my plane. It’s what she loved most about me when we were still married. I took her to the airfield on our first date. She clung to me, nails digging into my skin. Like suddenly she meant something because she was at my side. She squealed “You get to see what the birds see.” She fell in love with this feeling as we sat in the cockpit sharing a bottle of wine and watching fledgling sparrows in a nest stuffed in the corner of the controller’s office learn to fly. As it grew dark and we watched the clouds in shapes of bumblebees and trees shrink to star shaped pin pricks, a hawk swooped down, grabbing one of the birds in its talons.


This reminds me of the time last year in our kitchen when I wanted to ask my wife if she had been with another man, but before I had the chance a white dove crushed its skull against the windowpane. It was something about the confusion: something about seeing life and death in the same moment that made me think maybe I was wrong.


But I was not wrong. I came home from work and she was not there. No note, no dinner, just a matchbook on the tiled floor. Neither of us smoked. On the cover a duck spread its wings out across the sky. I looked at those wings and I knew I was alone over the lake waiting to be shot down.


I can see my ex now, for sure. At first we play chicken: she, standing in the lawn I used to mow every Saturday morning and I in my little single engine gliding over my old street. She gives first and drops to the ground. The gust of wind my plane makes as it breaks the air rushes over her dress and as I climb further and further back into the sky, I dip my wings and spin.


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Motivation: This short piece was inspired by a news article I read.

Bio: Courtney McCreary is a second year graduate student at Mississippi State University studying creative writing. McCreary Lives and writes in Starkville, Mississippi.

Email TSJ: Editor: Pamela Tyree Griffin

shinesubmit@fastmail.us

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