Short Fiction

Final Approach

If I weren’t a ghost, you would see me.  You would know there is more for you than the wind tossing you through an endless sky and thunder cracking the darkness while shards of lightning sizzle all around you.

You would know there is more than just the lonely drone of your engine and the needles on your fuel gauges slipping away.

You would know there is somewhere to land, a respite from the storm that you know will never let you go.

You wouldn’t be clutching the yoke with whitened knuckles, your hands blindly twisting and pulling against a sky determined to rip you from its embrace and smash you into the ground.  You wouldn’t feel rivers of sweat cascading down the side of your face while you stare wide-eyed into the maelstrom of what you can only imagine is the end of you.

You would still be scared, I know.  But you would believe that you can get through this.  You would know that you have a chance.  You would understand that you may yet survive.  You would cling to life, even in its last precious moments that stretch from everything you’ve been to the final breath of who you could have been.

If you could see me.  If I weren’t a ghost.

But you must believe in me now, even so.

There was a time when the green and white plumes of my beacon stretched across the sky and pressed on through the boiling shrouds of storm clouds to remind you that I was still here, tucked just under the horizon.  There was a time when I shone out into the night with a thousand lights that would call to any who needed me and tell them: here.  Just a little further.  You are almost home.  Don’t give up.

There was a time when I would fill the skies with glistening wings and bring them home again.  When all would come to me so they could find each other again.  When little girls would gather time and space into their embrace and grandfathers would stoop to pick them up and remember one last smile.

The green and white glass, yellow from years of sun, lies in the mud now, broken and pummeled by hail and lightning.  Wind pecks at the steel tower lying next to the broken glass like a fallen soldier.  Rain washes over its bent frame and rust crawls along its girders, a slow smothering of everything I once was.

Smooth asphalt once simmered with the scent of tires and metal and fuel as the world raced along my back to reach out and find itself.  Now, all that remains are weeds pushing up through the cracks, its edges crumbling away and a single white X at the end to tell you I am no longer useful.

The darkness swirls around me as much as it does you.

Still, even as I slip away to dust, a shadow of me remains.

I am there, just beyond the curtain of rain lashing at you.  I am just below the ragged yellow currents ripping through the sky in crimson gold that make the hair on your neck bristle.  I am just behind the thunder rumbling through your wings and along your bones.  I am that wisp of hope you seek, the elixir that will wash away the desperation that holds you in its grip.  I am that last miracle that will emerge just before you die.  I am all of that.

If you will just hold on a little longer. If you will still fight to level your wings and descend through the darkness to grope for the ground, you will find me.

My back, cracked, weary and worn, can yet endure the pummeling of your wheels scraping along its surface. So come to me now.  Let me feel the touch of you one last time before I go.

If you would just believe. Even though I am only a ghost.  Even though you cannot see me.

Even so.


©2017 Michael J Lawrence

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