Crashing Bird

He heard a pencil had six miles in it so the few he had might not last him. There were less than a dozen left and he had hundreds of miles to go. His heart put him on this journey, but it seems like the bastard pushed him through the gate and didn’t wave goodbye.

The window seat cost more money than he should have spent, but this all started by him trying to get the things he wanted so he paid the extra money. Matthew pulled his lap belt tight enough to show off his inexperience flying and waited to be scared.

I am not a bird. I am an animal without wings. I do not understand what is happening. Flying is not in my bones.”

He repeated the mantra over again. It calmed him and brought him peace, but he whispered it to himself so loudly that the person next to him was annoyed before they even left the tarmac. And in fact, even after they took off. She put on headphones before the attendant said she could, and Matthew took the notebook he bought for the trip out of its cellophane and a half-dozen pencils from his jacket.

Matthew knew his name and the date so that part was written easily. He didn’t know which city he was over so he just wrote, Air’ which made him feel fancy. He turned to the second blank page, and the tip of his pencil hovered over the paper. Then he rested it on the paper. Matthew adjusted himself in his seat and rested the graphite against the paper again.

God dammit.

He was on an adventure to meet the woman he loved but had never met. This was going to change the rest of his life.

Matthew adjusted himself again and put the pencils between the pages of the notebook and asked the attendant for a soda. It was going to be a long flight. He had plenty of time to think of something to write, but he didn’t. He was nervous and unsure. He never loved like this before, yet all he had done was talk with her on the phone and shared a few pictures.

This was crazy and Matthew felt even crazier for being scared of the turbulence that the other passengers seem to ignore.

I am not a bird. I am an animal without wings. I do not understand what is happening. Flying is not in my bones.”

Hours later, the flight was over and his notebook was empty.

He was sad she couldn’t meet him at the airport, but she arranged to see him at the hotel. It was a nice room with a view and a balcony. There was a little table out there (according to the reviews), and he imagined eating breakfast with her there during the slow and soft mornings they would have until they decided who would move where.

Matthew sent Ella a text that he had landed. He was excited and went straight to the hotel even though he knew she wouldn’t be there until after her shift. Her break wasn’t for another couple of hours so it would be awhile before she saw his text.

Taking a shower would have been nice. A shower would have been the smart thing to do, but instead, he opened his notebook and wrote until the first pencil was dull. He did the same with the next. He was scared before the plane and he was scared on the plane, but now he knew he was safe. All he had to do was wait. He was a few hours away from kissing the girl he had wanted to kiss for months. The only way he wouldn’t kiss her was if he left, but he was already writing in his notebook about how he would never leave.

He took a sharpener out of his checked bag and sharpened all the pencils he dulled just so he could dull them again.

Matthew hadn’t wrote like this in awhile and it felt good to him. He wrote and he planned the life he dreamt of on paper. A life with her. Time went by and he was glad, because if it didn’t, he would have gone insane.

He told himself she must have taken a later break and later he told himself she must have skipped her break to get off early. She was reading his messages, something must have been going on at work.

Maybe his signal was bad?

He went on the balcony and sat down to call her. She should have been off work by now, even if she didn’t take a break.

He called again.

He waited a few minutes and then he called over and over again without waiting.

Nothing. He felt nothing but shame.

He sat on the balcony, right where he was suppose to have breakfast with Ella tomorrow morning. Matthew found a place nearby that sold the kind of muffins she liked. Best in the city. There was a good coffee shop nearby too. He’d leave a note so she wouldn’t think he had changed his mind. He wouldn’t want her to have that thought long. It was dark. The only sound was the wind until his phone vibrated.

He didn’t want to look, because he knew what it said. It must have said that she changed her mind. His phone’s screen faded to black and he waited for it to vibrate again. There would be another message. She always sent another message if her first wasn’t read. It was her way of making sure he was there and he wanted her to know he was hurt. He waited for another message, but it didn’t come.

Matthew debated with himself even though he knew he would look. He had to put on an internal monologue for his own sanity.

Maybe she did get hurt or maybe something really bad happened. Traffic?

He looked.

The message was long but just the first sentence was enough.

Ella is a lie.”

He read a few more sentences until his mind caught up with the feeling in his stomach and then he stopped reading. He locked his phone and slammed it down next to his notebook, filled with the future he couldn’t have. It was all lies. It was all lies like Ella. Matthew threw the book and was too high up to hear it hit. He looked at his phone and opened the text again and skimmed a few more sentences before throwing the phone off the fucking balcony too. He grabbed the railing and kicked it. He kicked it again then punched it even though it couldn’t feel anything.

It couldn’t feel just like whoever Ella really was couldn’t feel. If she could feel, she wouldn’t have done this. How could someone do this? What did Matthew do to deserve this pain? He hit the balcony again and then wrapped his hands around it tight enough to choke a person to death.

Matthew cried and had a debate with himself. It was a short debate. Shorter than it should have been and he shouldn’t have felt so happy to have won it.

All Matthew could think was that he wasn’t a bird. He was an animal without wings, but he understood what was happening. He would soon be just bones.

Written for issue 3 of Plumbago

December 2, 2017