beauty, fiction, love, short fiction, women, writing

the arc of ascent



Debbie drove out of the parking lot once her working day was done. On Wednesday nights, she would drive straight from work to the airport.

There were nights that required a little more space, a little more dark and once the novelty of sitting in the airport wore off, if it ever really did, she found a spot where she could park and watch the planes take off. Alone.

She would, on warmer nights, sit on the hood, shut her eyes and feel the noise, the movement of the air. Watching the lights twinkle like stars on their perfect, ordered arc of ascent. She would go away for a while, become nothing but what she felt. She would stroke her cheeks with her fingers, a soothing gesture as she waited.

It was the kind of night that had her in the front seat, the heater on full blast and the window open. She wasn’t sure how much more the car could take, and if she didn’t get the raise, then she knew that she was probably going to end up having to take it in again. She tried to get the thinking done, so that she could feel.

Then the plane came and she shut her eyes, ready to be taken away from it all.

The tap on the window ruined it. She looked into a pair of rheumy eyes, watering from the cold and a bulbous, reddened nose atop thin, pale lips. She had broken, yellow and black teeth, but her breath was sweet with mint.

Debbie’s heart leapt into her throat. She glanced to see if the door was locked. Her heart sank, and she looked out at the windshield, looked at the plane going away without her. The way that they all did.

She was supposed to be alone out here. At least in the airport, no one approached her at all. She cursed herself for being too afraid of being seen there.

‘I don’t have any change, ma’am.’ she said.

The woman chuckled and shook her head, tickled by the sentiment.

‘I don’t need money. Just saw the car running and got a little curious.’

Debbie grimaced.

‘Well, I’m fine. Thank you.’

The woman stroked her cheek with her finger.

”Why do you come out here?’
Debbie took in a deep breath.

‘Look, it’s how I relax, okay?’

The woman shook her head.

‘So, you’ve got a roof over your head, earning a regular wage that you probably spend all out on bills, and you come out here to sit in the dark.’

Debbie’s temples began to throb and she reached for the window handle.

‘Not every night.’ Debbie said.

The woman chuckled and clapped her hands together. Debbie’s voice sounded thin and peevish to her ears. The woman smiled with an air of knowing amusement.

‘You come and watch other people. You watch them go places, find and say goodbye to each other. Yet you still go back to that life, and for what?’

Debbie revolted at the implication, she gritted her teeth and wound the window up.

She sped out of the parking lot. The anger was sharp and painful. With each mile, the anger and the hurt started to ebb away, like draining a lake for the treasure stuck at the bottom. She started to wonder again.

The woman watched her leave before pulling at the false teeth with her thumb and forefinger. It made a sucking pop as she slipped it into the pocket of her coat. She slipped off the contacts and peeled off the facial prostheses. She looked back at the airplane. She felt the hum of the incoming message.

‘Are you done, Debra?’

She smiled to herself, watched a plane take off and part of her, as it always would, went with it.


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