She lives at the playground in the park that is pretty green most of the year, or when the monsoons come and grab the weeds out of the ground. Or, rather, she doesn’t live at the playground, she probably lives nearby, maybe at the school, (the one with the portables), no, I mean the houses next to that school. That’s where she lives.
In any case, she’s a pilot. She watches as other pilots, with other planes for that matter, steal her sky space above the playground. Their shadows, long and reaching like the others, pull steady against the weeds that came out with the flood waters. This makes her angry, but she holds these things close to her heart, just like Mary, but it’s not the voice of God moving her here, no it’s definitely those other pilots taunting her with their shadows.
Sometimes children come there after the monsoons. They’re a threat as well, but she can handle a few kids every now and then, I mean, who are we kidding, they’re no pilots, and they’re much easier to fold and bend into neat small packages and lay at the foundation of the playground. You see, pilots don’t have time to be unorganized. She knows this. At the school, (the one with the portables), they teach the children about rows and rows of numbers and how to package these numbers with words in a way that will let the children some day understand what it takes to be a doctor, a salesman, a plumber. But never a pilot, no, she shakes her head, no, being a pilot is something that needs the voice, sorry, no—the will of God. You see, flying the planes above the floodwaters means you have to know who to bring onboard and who to leave on the ground. She’d like you to know she calls these folks “grounders”, but that’s not an official pilot term, that’s something she just thought of a number of years ago.
The grounders are the ones upon which we’re going to build our cities. They all take a little bit of folding, some crunching and snapping, she says, but after the first few bends, they stack together nicely. Sometimes, when it hasn’t rained in a while, I know she likes to arrange them altogether into a great throne, almost as high as the swings, to watch her park and guard against the other pilots. God goes with her she thinks, so this park should be safe.
She hasn’t flown in years. She is pretty sad about this, it’s another thing she carries with her, only this weight she thinks is closer to Elizabeth bearing John, because she knows she will get her planes back one day, and then the weight within her will bend with joy, just like the Baptist, because that’s her place. That’s where pilots should be after all, in the sky, you see.
But the rains are coming again and soon the tall sharp weeds are going to be pulled from the ground and start to unravel her last layer of packages. As a pilot, she doesn’t have much use for organizing numbers like the children in the school, but she does know that this disintegration will upset her keen sense of order. No matter. She will go with God and wait out the rains like Noah and begin again with new rows of new packages of children, all neatly bent, cracked, and arranged, and laid out as the foundation of tomorrow. Then upon this rock she will finally fly once more.
Sarah Glady holds an MA in literature from Arizona State University. Her work has been featured recently in McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, PANK, Cartridge Lit, and unbroken. Earlier this year, she was evacauted from the park behind her house due to an aggressive and impressive flash flood.