“Look Up At the Sky” by Josh Springs

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You’re sitting with your date at the airport. You drove to the top floor of the free parking garage, and the two of you are sitting on a blanket in the bed of your truck. Because it’s summer, you’re both wearing tank tops, and her soft skin feels good against your arm, but you are hyper aware of how hairy you are. You feel like apologizing, especially since this is only your second date, and your ape-arm is violating her personal space.

Watching airplanes was her idea. She says it’s fun to watch them come and go. You gave the suggestion to make up the stories of the people on the plane, and she liked the idea.

“What harm could it do?” You think.

You point to a plane headed east from the airport. “Tell me about the co-pilot?”

She sits for a minute to think. “He’s young. Almost too young. And he’s not white. No, he’s Hispanic. He works himself too hard because he wants to defy expectations, but it’s taking its toll. He hasn’t slept in days, and he smokes two packs a day. He’s also in love with the pilot but won’t let himself be since he’s a devout Catholic.”

“Well, damn that was unexpected,” you think.

She looks up to the sky and points at an inbound plane coming in from the North. “Low level flight attendant.”

You think for a second before speaking. “She’s the lowest level because she’s not bilingual, even though she—”

“You’re wrong,” she says.

“Um, how can I be wrong?”

“Because the lowest level flight attendant is bilingual. Actually she speaks five languages fluently and well enough in two others. She’s the lowest level because this is her first flight.”

“How do you know this? Do you know her?”

“I don’t know her.”

“So, how do you know all this stuff?”

“I just kinda know it.” She rubs her arm, and you watch her hand go up and down trying to rub out some goosebumps. Even though it’s July, a definite chill hangs in the air.

“Alright,” you say, pointing to another plane. “First class passenger. Right side. Third row window seat.”

“That seat’s empty.” You look at her, and she back at you. The silence between you hangs for a minute, then both of you return your attention to the sky. “But the person in the next seat, that one’s a doozy. She’s young. 24. She’s been the mistress for too long, really, and she kept trying to convince her lover to leave her husband. Finally, the husband beat her, and she left with nothing. Thank God for prenups. So, this woman finally gets to be with her true love, completely unashamed, for the first time. It’s really sweet, you know?”

You don’t know. Partially because most of your mental capacities are taken over by trying to figure this girl out, and partly because the only relationship you’ve had ended as a total disaster. She tore your heart to shreds while at the airport. This airport, actually. But you try to avoid thinking about it. Because you’re on a date who is far prettier and weirder than the only person you have ever loved.

Damn, you’re thinking about her again, aren’t you? Stop it.

“Do you want to tell another story?” she asks. “I promise I won’t say you’re wrong again. Promise.” She looks up at you and crosses her heart just like a kid. You smile and she smiles back. Damn, she has a nice smile. That’s what drew you to her in the coffee shop in the first place.

You nod and she turns her gaze to the sky. While waiting for her choice, you get bold and put your arm around her shoulders. Instead of tensing up, she settles into the nook of your shoulder, and you feel like you can do anything.

She points at a plane heading south from the airport. “Person in the cargo hold.” You let the weirdness slide because otherwise this is a nice moment, and you don’t get many of those anymore.

“He’s 14 and scared. He can’t take it at home anymore and this was the only way he could think to get away. The only person he thinks cares about him lives across the country, and his only plan is to get there. They should know what to do.” You let out a deep breath and shudder a little. “At least he hopes so. Really his best friend is just going to freak out, and he’ll have to go back home.” That story was a little too close to home, but you aren’t even sure why you said it.

“Sounds like you know the feeling,” she says, and you want to feel awkward, but she grabs your hand and pulls your arm across her chest. Now you’re almost full on holding her, and it’s nice. A little weird since this is only the second date. You had sex on the first date, but when she snuck out that morning you didn’t expect her to call you back again.

But she did. And that’s why you’re at the airport now.

You think of how honest you should be with her. Do you tell the girl that you’re on a date with about how you tried to run away as a teenager? On the one hand, that story is super personal to you, and you didn’t even tell the other girl that you loved until one year into the relationship.

But she always said you were distant in the relationship, so maybe this weird girl would like you being upfront.

On that hand, you have already had sex, fantastic sex, and so some level of awkwardness has been evaporated. You question if telling her it was your first time was a smart decision, even though it was.

“This entire relationship has been weird,” you say aloud instead of just inside your head. You realize you said it not in your head when she rolls onto your chest. You feel her breasts pressed against your ribcage, and she wraps her arms around your torso.

“It has been, but who doesn’t appreciate some weirdness every now and then?” She smiles at you, and it makes you feel good. Not aroused but comforted.

You look into her eyes for an answer that puts the feeling into words, but instead you kiss her.

She turns so her back is on your chest. “Your turn to pick the plane.”


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My name is Joshua “Dimitri” Springs, and I am attending Converse college’s MFA program with a focus in YA lit. When not writing–or procrastinating from writing–I have a job as a nanny, because money is money, and avidly reading whatever is on hand. 

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  1. I feel like this is the beginning of a really great story. I was hooked in by the apparently psychic girl and her weird version of people watching, and I loved how things developed as the protagonist let her into his (or her?) secrets. But then it seemed like the story petered out just as it was starting to go somewhere. It’s not so much an abrupt ending as something that doesn’t really feel like an ending at all. All in all, I liked what I got, but I wanted more out of this story.

  2. At first I was a bit thrown here. I am on record in like 800 other battles as not being a fan of switching person and tense just because you can switch person and tense. This story did not change my mind about that. So I was worried that this was going to be a lot of smoke and mirrors and showing off what the author can do with tense and POV with nothing underneath.
    However, while I don’t know what using second person added, I did settle in very quickly and was charmed by this story almost instantly. Then I got some goosebumps later on. The author definitely had me in the palm of his hand. And then it ended. And I was kind of confused. Dear god, man! Is this girl actually psychically bonded to the passengers flying overhead?? I don’t care if you got laid, I need to know what is going on here!
    So, yeah. Good stuff but the ending did not really deliver on what I was sold into up front.

  3. I have gone on record several times as being not a fan of the second person viewpoint, but oddly enough, I think it works here. It fits the mood of the story well.

    My biggest difficulty is that what I read here seems to me to be a bit too slice-of-life for my personal tastes with not enough of a story arc. The hints of story that we have here are delightful — quite delightful, in fact. But I wish that they added up to something more satisfying.

  4. Second person is just flat out hard to pull off. Josh did a good job with the cadence and tone, but I still feel like 3rd person would work better here.

    It also feels like the story is just a vignette of a much larger piece. The characters don’t go through many changes. We see that “you” are still struggling with the closeness and weirdness of it all. That “you” are only giving the slightest thought to the girl’s abilities / probable lies.

    Still an interesting work. I just wish there was a little bit more potent ending.

  5. It’s good, it works, but where’s the rest of the story?
    And by the rest, I mean the bit that this sets up. I want to read where this goes next, and I can only assume time or the word count got away from you because you’ve left me wanting more.

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