This snap fiction story (what’s that?) fired up its engines when I spotted an airliner over­head on a clear day…

Here’s the snap I took and the story that it taxied to the runway. Fasten your seat­belts!

The Deep End of the Eyes

There are certain bene­fits to be had, thought Martha Kendiddle as she wiped the dew off a park bench, sat down, opened up a bottle of Sangiovese and sampled its some­what disap­pointing contents, to occa­sion­ally being an asshole. The trick, she imag­ined, was recog­nizing both the oppor­tu­nity and the benefit, and having a gener­ally unscrupu­lous dispo­si­tion. She had known a handful people in her life who fit that descrip­tion, had fallen immod­er­ately in love with one of them, and was, against her own better nature, enter­taining the notion that it may offer some solace to watch her plane crash from the sky.

Isidora Mendicott went by Dorothy in polite conver­sa­tion, had allowed Martha to settle on Izzie during their less-than-polite exchanges, would not stand for Iz under any circum­stances, and insisted on wearing 5‑inch heels in public even though she was usually the tallest person in the room without them. They had met at a charity func­tion where they were each reluc­tantly repre­senting other people’s conflicting inter­ests, but had quickly redi­rected their atten­tion to a different and evidently shared interest: one another.

The evening’s enter­tain­ment had barely gotten under way when a stranger in a burgundy peau de soie pencil dress sashayed over to Martha, summarily scanned her name tag and hummed, “I beg your pardon… Ms. M. Kendiddle. You seem to be the only person who wants to get the fuck out of here even more than me. Shall we?”

Unaccustomed to such unto­ward atten­tions, Martha quick­ened as she sensed Izzie’s hand touching—no, feeling her arm. She looked into the deep end of the stranger’s eyes, leaned over, and plunged. In a moment of wayward release, she decided to let this majestic, brashly fluvial woman into her night and into her life.

What followed had been three weeks of intem­per­ance without regret, succeeded by three days of remorse without clemency. What was tempes­tuous became bitter; what started tenderly became petri­fied; what seemed hewn in stone became slip­pery as sand.

The capri­cious ener­gies of passion can be contained and recharged in love—but to be sustained, that love must learn a new, dispas­sionate language that grows deeper roots and suffers more inequities. Isidora Mendicott had neither the time nor the tempera­ment to learn that gentle tongue, as Martha discov­ered one day when, having done to bed together, she awoke alone.

There had been no note, just the gentle clack of the door latch closing beyond the wall. At the sound of a car trunk slam­ming, Martha had rushed to the window, just in time to catch the last of Isidora Mendicott’s burgundy jacquard cape disap­pearing into a cab and the words “Terminal 4!” being barked.

And so it was that she now found herself on a park bench under the takeoff flight path, surrounded by the repul­sive vigor of the early-morning joggers and the languid depend­ability of the first-shift dog walkers, eyeing each passing plane with dejected suspi­cion. There were no crashes of course, no explo­sions or para­chutes, no sudden rever­sals of fortune that could abort Air Izzy’s flight to its next conquest.

There are days, thought Martha, when the world just was as it is and there’s nothing you can do. She put the bottle down. And there would come days when the world would be as unchanged as it always was, but in new ways. Tomorrow she would realize that the secret of love is that every loss is an undis­cov­ered trou­vaille; today she will wallow and gush and squirm and seethe—but if at all possible, over a stiff arabica and an almond crois­sant.

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Father, son, husband, friend and writer by day; asleep by night. Happily pondering the immortality of the crab wherever words are shared.

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