In front of me rests the husk of a plane—its wings clipped, its nose shaved off as if by a surgeon paid to make it something it was not—and I want to give it a pronoun, to call it she like my grandfather would have, but that seems offensive in some way.
And then it seems offensive that that seems offensive.
It is the last one left in the graveyard where they used to bury all the great things, all the conveyances of the last great age. The corpses of its brothers and sisters have been hauled away, their skin and bones recycled for the great windowless domes where we live now, sedentary, fixed, and unmoving, our eyes glued to our screens, our screens the only escape we can stomach anymore. Motion sickness is the great affliction of our time. And we don’t like the discomfort, the feeling that something might spill from us other than commands to the servants who do our bidding and clean up our business.
I am not supposed to be here. ‘Why do you leave your seat?’ they will ask me, without looking up from their screens. ‘What do you think you’ll find out there that you can’t find in here?’ they will say, tapping a query into the repositories to determine which of my thoughts was offensive. They can no longer tell for themselves. They no longer want to.
I will say nothing, but what I will be thinking is about the difference punctuation makes, how looking at the body of a dead plane moved a comma in my mind, and struck a period from existence. I will be thinking about what throwing up in the cockpit of my grandfather’s two-seater meant way back when, and what it means now.
Once, I flew. I never went back.
Once I flew, I never went back.
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