Contents - This Great Society - Issue 5, Mythology - December 2009/January 2010
Creative Writing
Waxwing - Illustration by Zach Bulick
Waxwing - By Loranne Brown
Waxwing - Illustration by Zach Bulick

Quad twist triple flip. Luke Standhoffer had been practicing the dive version of an aerial ski maneuver from the ten-metre tower. The physics of rotation were the same, but the pool was more forgiving than the mountain.

             “C’mon, Luke!” A female voice.

             He waved down at her, sauntered to the edge of the platform, and hurled himself into oblivion. But—his angular momentum was off. Call it single twist triple flop. His left side burned and his ribs felt battered. Winded, he stayed in the pool until she was gone.

             But Coach was waiting. “Girls can kill you.” He tossed Luke a towel. “Distractions. That’s when accidents happen.”

             Still keyed up after showering and dressing, Luke calculated the old risk/danger/disaster equation—root of umpty-hundred clashes with his dad in eighteen years. Last week after practice, his father had cornered him in the laundry room: “What’s it all going to get you, besides a wheelchair and a respirator?”

             “A trip to the Olympics? Athletic scholarship, maybe?”

             “Find some useful way to get a thrill out of making a living,” his father said, crushing Luke in the threatening ferocity of his embrace.
His dad’s fear—hell, over-protectiveness—kept him away from the dive meets and ski competitions; he couldn’t stand to watch. His mom often came alone, effusive with praise: she’d score today’s bad entry “perfect.”

             To postpone the inevitable, Luke turned off the highway at the airport. He drove around the perimeter. Parked the car in an employees’ lot. Strolled through “No Admittance” areas, watching the comings and goings. He listened to the buzz of small planes. And snuffed up aviation exhaust—sweet, perfumey—like the scent aura of a girl. Why had he never hung out here before?

             A tall guy, four or five years older, approached. “Can I help you with something?” Lots of teeth in an open smile. “Or are you just lurking?”

             Luke shrugged.

             “You like to fly, kid?”

             “What, in planes?”

             “You know another way?” The guy laughed.


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