october 1k

october1k

Jim was thirty-six and sat at the Salt Lake City airport and waited for his flight home.  Four months ago, his wife left him, “Because you’re a space cadet,” she said.  He knew it.  He’ll return to the office tomorrow, and Tim will fire him, “Because you’re a space cadet,” he’ll say.

This morning, the lecture hall was stuffed with the two hundred bodies of software developers, which created a four thousand pound magnifying glass positioned perfectly over the space cadet in him.  He spilled his coffee onto his laptop and ended the presentation only seven minutes in.

Maybe he should’ve been an astronaut.

Jim looked at his hand.  He bent his fingers and wondered how that really worked.  He could add four plus four and snap at the same time, and it wasn’t even hard.  That amazed him.  He held his hand up, toward the big picture window overlooking the runway, and his hand was bigger than the 747 taxiing for take-off.  His hand was bigger than the mountain range in the distance.

He swung his hand down to his side, and it was smaller than the chair next to him.  Smaller than his thigh and shorter than his boarding pass.  It was the same size, however, as his other hand.  Almost exactly.

Jim checked the time.  There was plenty of it.  He checked the flight status.  “On Time,” it said.  If there was someone waiting for him at home, he would call and reassure her his flight was on schedule.  Without even thinking about it, he touched his pocket to make sure his cell phone was in there.

He scanned the people already crowded around the gate, as if they might get a better seat, even though their seats were printed on their boarding passes, which were longer than their hands too.  To them, the next nineteen minutes will feel like an hour.  But for the two women behind him, talking about the quilting expo they attended yesterday, the nineteen minutes will fly.

Either way, it’s eighteen minutes, and he wondered how all that really worked.  For instance, the first hour Jim ever spent with his wife passed in a blink, and the last hour he spent, before she became his ex-wife, feels like it’s still happening even today, four months later.

Jim checked the time.  Some of it had passed.

Then someone sat down next to him, but he didn’t look right away because he didn’t want her to feel put under a magnifying glass.  His plane arrived, and soon those bodies from a different time and place would waddle out and new bodies, like his, from this time and place, would waddle on.

He felt it was safe now to look over at the body sitting next to him, so he did, and she was looking at him too.  He smiled.  She smiled back in a cute, open way.

He got nervous, so he said, “Sometimes I think my feet are too big, and that’s why the women I like won’t have dinner with me.  But this is the body that belongs to me, so…”

“Okay,” she said and kept smiling in a cute way that didn’t feel anything like, Go away.

Jim couldn’t help but realize that, from his perspective, everything in the world looked smaller than his eyes – even watermelon.  But there was a part of this woman that he couldn’t see, that felt bigger than anything he’d ever felt before.

So he said, “I’m just a space cadet.”

“I see,” she said.

He sat there feeling her wonderful, and delightful, intangibility, and it warmed him like pulling the down comforter back up over his shoulders on a very cold morning.

“Maybe you should’ve been an astronaut,” she said.

He felt his cheeks get hot, and he knew the splotches on his neck were on their way, but that was the body he was given, so he held his hand up toward the big picture window and said, “If you go like this, your hand is bigger than that mountain.”

She mimicked him.  “You’re right.”

“But even if I could lift that mountain up, I don’t think I could fit this feeling you’re making me feel inside of it.”

“Oh my,” she said, and then her face turned red, and then a voice came over the intercom.

“Last call for flight one-seventy to Kansas City.”

Jim was shocked.  “The last eighteen minutes just flew by.  I don’t know how that really works.”

“When you’re not watching it,” she said, “Time plays tricks on you.  It’s sneaky.”

“Final boarding for flight one-seventy to Kansas City,” the voice said.

Jim stood.  “This is our flight.”  He hoped their seats were next to each other.

“Oh,” she said, “I’m on the next one at this gate.”

“Oh,” he said, thinking fast.  “Well I don’t think I belong in Kansas City.”

“Really,” she asked.  “Where do you belong?”

“Where do you live?”

“Hartford, Connecticut.”

“Hartford, Connecticut,” he said.

“Passenger James Wilson, please report to gate 16.  Your flight is departing.”

“Your gate is closing,” she said.

“That’s okay.  My feeling is bigger than making that flight.”

“But Hartford is no place for an astronaut,” she said, and this time she smiled in a way that pretty much said, Go away.

“Oh,” he said.  “Oh.”  His face got hot.  He grabbed his bag and ran to his gate, but the door was closed.

“I’m sorry,” said the gate lady.

“That’s okay,” he said.

He turned back to where that girl should’ve been, but she was gone.  His nose tingled, like he’d just been punched, and his eyes watered.  He thought about Salt Lake City and spilled coffee, and he could feel the Earth rotating under his big feet.  He closed his eyes and saw stars and galaxies and milky ways.  It was the perfect place for a space cadet, or an astronaut, and he thought that if he never opened his eyes again, he could call this place home.

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14 Responses to “october 1k”


  1. 1 erin 10/11/2009 at 6:58 am

    i really enjoyed reading this, david. and hannah, the photo is striking. well done, you two.

  2. 2 Ramona 10/11/2009 at 9:33 am

    oh. man.
    the dude. what is going to happen to him I wonder?

  3. 3 Sara 10/11/2009 at 2:30 pm

    I look forward to your collaboration every month. Then I forget about it. Then I stumble upon it and it’s like receiving a great letter from a stranger in the mail with stickers and drawings on the envelope. I think I need to go give my space cadet a a hug now. Thanks

  4. 4 Brian 10/11/2009 at 8:11 pm

    a wonderful character you’ve painted here, david.

  5. 5 Steph 10/11/2009 at 10:13 pm

    My goodness.

    I want to buy this book when you guys publish it. OK? OK.

  6. 6 us 10/12/2009 at 1:06 pm

    you make me care so much about your characters. poor jim. i hope he finds some place to call home.

  7. 7 julia 10/12/2009 at 1:32 pm

    damn. this is so damn good.

  8. 8 charlotte 10/12/2009 at 3:34 pm

    this is really excellent stuff.
    bravo you two.

  9. 9 billy 10/12/2009 at 11:01 pm

    well worth the read. as always.

  10. 10 jmac 10/13/2009 at 3:30 pm

    kind of glad he got denied. no happy endings on a cold, rainy october day.

  11. 11 Cynthia 10/26/2009 at 11:52 am

    Grrr…….is it November yet?!?!

  12. 12 6riddles 10/27/2009 at 7:51 am

    Ditto what Sara said on October 11th. I usually stumble back on this site at just the right time. Thank You.

  13. 13 gkgirl 11/13/2009 at 5:59 am

    wow.

    this is amazing.

  14. 14 cheryl 11/15/2009 at 8:15 am

    wheres november? are you both ok?


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