Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Fiction work #15

Those damn Wright brothers.
We were one month away from catapulting ourselves into history, but they had to do it first.
They didn't even do it with style.
But us?
We got style; and a Dream. It's how we fell in love. We looked into each other's eyes, and saw the bright, beckoning, blue. Then we knew.
Twenty years later, here we are.
Standing together in the barn, staring, by dim lantern light, smelling like hay and grease, at our latest baby: The Mark IV, affectionately known as "Dolly". She's a bi with two old John Deere engines in her, heavily altered of course.
Just a few kinks to work out, the steerings still a little thick for what we need.
"What do you need?" You ask? We need her to turn sharper than the dog chasing his tail, to climb faster than the barnhand up the ladder in front of the bull's horns, to stop deader than...I dunno. Roadkill, probably. We'll get it. Oh, we'll get it.
Folks wonder why we need all this.
It's 'cause we're stuntmen.
The Amazing Marileze and Dupoir! Humans that fly like Birds! See feats of Darring-do that frighten women, children, and lesser men! Only 6p a show!
Dupoir will fly the plane, and I will wing-walk. There's a planted bar on poles on top of the wings. That's where I ride. Scarf trailing, and let me tell you, there's nothing better than chasing geese through the white clouds of fall.
Our most amazing trick is one I came up with while watching kids on the swings. First, we climb, straight up. As high as we can. Then, at the top, we kill the engine, and just fall: Diving, Tumbling, Rolling, Pitching, the ground covered in moss-like bushes, tiny humans like toys, houses like gingerbread, larger, down, the horizon a ruled edge of white between the heavens and the hard end that feels like it's balanced on your head as you handstand, plummeting unstoppably until WHOOSH he starts her up and we swoop away, seconds from death.
We call it the Icarus. It horrifes our bridge partners.
"But you could DIE!" They gasp.
"But we could LIVE!" We reply.
They shake their heads. They don't understand.
Especially the women. I've taken to wearing pants constantly now. They titter in horror and obsess in their outrage. No-one else knows why I do, but I'll tell you. On the mark III we had the engine running, hanging from the ceiling, blades a-goin, when my frock was sucked into the gears, quick as a blink. I've given thanks many times that I was wearing my cheap one (I'd stitched it back loosely after a mundane house accident prior) so it ripped at my shoddy seam, but it pulled my hip in, nipped a neat little bite in my thigh. Dupoir had gone sheet-white, was beside me in a flash, slowing the blood, weeping like a new calf. We held each other till we cramped; then, without a word, got up and dissasembled the Mark III, burying the main engine component. It had tasted human blood. There was no love there. It could not be flown. I only wear pants now.
The Mark IV is good to us. We can feel she's the one; the one to take us all the way there.

There have been exciting developments too. My favorite is our night-flying routine. We were at a loss for a while. If you can't see the ground, how would you know if you are going to hit it? We puzzled, for months. Then one morning Dupoir woke me by bounding on our ricket bed.
"I've got it!" he hollered.
It was magnificent. A series of lanterns, carefully hooded, reveal, by how much light you can see, how close you are to the ground. If you are above 300ft, only one ring is visible. At 200ft, two rings, and at 100ft, all three rings. We danced that night, like idiots, and drank the wine my parents had saved from their wedding night. We slept like puppies in the hayloft that night.

And now, we are in the home stretch. We no longer even need to look at our blue-prints, although we keep them close at hand. They are, to us, works of precious art. When we finally fly, we plan to frame them and hang them on our walls.

People ask us, 'When are you going to grow up and stop fooling around?' But we don't understand the question. I cannot imagine myself, other than with this piece I have found. I feel like I have been forever trying to get back to where I came from, in the clouds. Life without this quest, is not a life to me.

Sometimes I dream. I can fly by wishing very hard. I take off, and smell the sweet, cold, air from above the shelf of clouds, blue, white, and porcelain. The sun streams through holes like tree trunks in the early morning, beckoning me higher. When the clouds touch my face, they dissolve into a dozen shimmery crystals, tiny pinpoints of cold wetness that refresh my lungs when I breathe them in. I love to soar low over the houses, spin the weathercocks, and do handstands on the treetops. When I wake up, I shake Dupoir awake, and we sit in the barn for hours, staring at our plane by dawn's light.


Anonymous said...

This was really good! A completely different topic but you really get into it. I confess I get waiting for your usual twist at the end but I like the ending as it is.
Just one small question: the word "piece" in the second-last paragraph; should it be "peace"?
lol, mapa

Michelle Ernst said...

Glad you like it. I just wanted this one to be a nice story about how good it feels when you really know what you're meant to be doing. Plus, I just listen to the stories and jot them down, and this one didn't want to twist anywhere.

Anyway, no, It's supposed to be piece, because I've always felt like various characteristics of myself are pieces, and some of them are missing. for example, I'm starting to wonder if my complete puzzle is supposed to have a piano-playing piece. Like I'm supposed to know how to play kind of thing? It's sort of like destiny, I guess.