Second Jump



He’d made this jump before. Then the night had lit up with anti-aircraft fire, and he stood in the plane with Jack and William waiting for the light to turn from red to green. Only boys they had been, their hearts slamming against their chests, their bodies so pumped with adrenaline that they barely felt the cold air. And when the door opened they stomped in unison, terrified yet exhilarated. Ready for battle. Uncomprehending.


Now all that is past: the blood and horror, Jack’s fast grin and bright blue eyes, William’s soft voice when he spoke of his family, his home. All is wind and sky, forest and mountains.


He feels only the sway of his body beneath his canopy as he descends effortlessly. Frosted mountains surround him as the verdant earth grows closer, and he sees now what he couldn’t then. There is no glory in war. There is only the futility of death.


Listen to Mother

You were warned.

Decades ago when the temperatures began to creep up in the summers and winters became extreme, you were told to protect me, and you laughed. All those people shouting about the environment were nut cases, you said. What do they know? Who cares?

You laughed until the oceans swallowed your beachfront homes, and the rivers turned to streams then trickles. And soon water was rationed into little jugs. But you created big plants to desalinate the oceans and slowly the seas began to dry up because people needed water. More and more water. But there was never enough. So the plagues and hunger came. Then the looting. And death. So much death.

Now your homes belong to me. My winds sigh through the shattered windows as sand pours into the rooms. To see your homes now, you would never realize they were once palaces built to honor your vanity.

Did you think I would endure your wanton recklessness forever?

You were warned: Honor your Mother.

A Valentine’s Tale: Now That We’ve Kissed . . .

ImageNow that we’ve kissed, here are some things you ought to know about me. Even though I wore this gooey Ravishing Raspberry lip shine, when I put it on I felt like my I.Q. dropped ten points. It’s slimy and gooey, and now it’s all over your face.

I never wear dresses, so I wonder why I crammed myself into this pink satin horror. I like my jeans and tee shirts, and I’m not any less a girl when I wear them.

I do like the corsage you got me for the dance though; I love the delicate pink roses nestled among the baby’s breath and that one surprising purple iris. How did you know it was one of my favorite flowers? I generally don’t like dances. so I don’t know why I even agreed to come to this one with you. It’s just a bunch of grinding and sweating and too loud everything. It sounds like a freight train running through my head. Why can’t we have one or two slow songs just once in a while?

I guess you should know that at heart I’m kind of a romantic, not that I believe in soul mates, but it would be nice if you could meet someone special like in those silly musicals. Sometimes I wish life was like a musical so when you came into a room music would start to play. When I first met you I think music was playing.

You should know that I like sitting home with a good book. I know that probably sounds weird, but people let you down. Books are always there. I know you like to read because I met you in the library. Who’d have thought a guy as cute as you had a brain?

I liked the way we argued about politics until everyone looked at us like we were weird. I said you were an asshole, and you said I was a moron. Then you apologized and gave me a ride home.

You said you liked my house because it had great trees, and you always wanted a tree house. I like to climb trees. We have a big old maple tree in the back yard, and when I climb that old thing and settle in with a book and let the breeze blow over me, well, then I feel at peace. Right now I’m debating whether I prefer Jane Eyre to Pride and Prejudice. You said you liked Brave New World and World War Z. I said it figured, but I was glad you liked to read.

I also swim. I’m pretty good too, not super great, but good. You play soccer and are really good. I think swimming is superior to soccer because in swimming you compete against yourself. You like soccer because it’s a team sport. I guess it’s just one of those things we have to agree to disagree on.

Still, I never thought you’d ask me to a semi formal. In four years I never got asked to a semi formal. Not that I ever wanted to get asked.

You’re looking at me kind of funny and quiet. Did I scare you off? I scare a lot of guys off. I guess you know that already. They think I’m pretty weird.

The music is so loud, and almost everyone is on the dance floor grinding away except for us and a few wallflowers. Why are you holding out your hands? I feel a little shaky when I step into your arms. We’re all alone in the middle of the dance floor, and you’re holding me close. I kind of like that.

Maybe just because it’s Valentine’s Day, I’ll kiss you again.