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Fear of Landing




Andrew Sydlik




Some people are afraid of flying. I’m afraid of landing.


The six hour flight from New York to London isn’t long enough. My body does yearn to get up and stretch, but my mind is glued, stapled, and bolted to the seat. Portable CD player in my lap, same album played twice, songs barely heard. I’m more aware of the ambient sensations of the plane: the vibration and high-pitch whine of the engine, flight crew moving back and forth, dim lights lulling the others into sleep.


 Outside the window, metal wings tear the sky. In places clouds soften the cutting through. But in others, the stretching on of blue emptiness makes me think we destroyed a landscape, leaving a trail of nothingness. Then a different kind of blue – rippling, sparkling. Small green dots. I put my headphones around my neck as the lights brighten. The captain’s voice tells us to prepare for landing. I grab the armrests as my ears pop and my stomach lurches. It all goes so fast; soon I’m out of my seat, nodding at the smiling flight crew, walking down the tunnel toward the gate.


Past the bustling bodies I see her. I half hoped, half feared she wouldn’t be here. I haven’t seen her in fifteen years, but I recognize her. Brown hair turned gray, skin more wrinkled, she’s mostly the same. She comes to me. We embrace.


“Hi, mom,” I say.

BIO: ANDREW SYDLIK writes fiction and poetry. He lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he organizes a writing group and does his best to connect with other writers through workshops and groups.

MOTIVATION: This sprang from my contemplation of how I can be simultaneously afraid of separation and closeness.