THE MOMENT I had been dreading for days arrived. Blue and
white lights demarcated the landing strip. The two strings of lights parted as
we approached, a maw that threatened to swallow the plane whole. The plane
lurched toward Earth, toward those menacing jaws.
I gripped my armrests. What if we crashed now? My fiancée could mourn me with dignity. She’d never have to know why I was coming to Detroit. “He was coming to surprise me,” she might tell a news reporter. “He couldn’t wait until our wedding to see me.”
She and I had to talk. We’d lose our deposit on the banquet hall, but I could reimburse her parents. What else could I do? I was going to hurt her, and I didn’t have the words to explain.
I clenched my jaw and waited for the wheels to hit the tarmac. It wouldn’t be more than another second or two.
The plane lurched again, and we rose. The other passengers began to talk loudly enough for me to hear. I pulled off my headphones to listen to what the pilot would say.
“Folks, we just executed a missed approach.” He spoke with a folksy, phony-sounding drawl. “We were a little too close to the end of the runway, so we’re playing it safe. We’ll get back up to altitude and get slotted in for another landing. We shouldn’t be more than a few minutes behind schedule.”
The plane rattled and groaned as it carried us back up to altitude. When I could breathe again, I looked out the window. Wispy clouds once again lay between me and Detroit, which sprawled in all directions far beyond my limited view. The clouds were thick, and the city seemed to be composed of archipelagos of light floating in a velvet black sea. I put my headphones on again. Now I knew what to tell her.
Jon Lasser lives and writes in Seattle,
Washington. His short fiction has been published
by The Ne'er-do-Well, Ampersand Review, matchbook, and elsewhere.