Thickly Settled / Flight Risk

[fiction]

Thickly Settled

We drive back behind a sluggish logging truck. The nodule in my neck is bigger this year, crowding my windpipe. The truck takes every turn with us, like it knows where we live. Maybe we could get you some scarves, you say.

The truck brakes unexpectedly; we both yell, Fuck! You hit the steering wheel. I wonder if you mean after, to hide the scar, or before, to hide the nodule. Maybe I could wear turtlenecks, I say.

We speed up to pass, but then you see a car in the oncoming lane. I try to think of celebrities who wear turtlenecks regularly. What about Diane Keaton? Everybody loves Diane Keaton, right?

The oncoming car sweeps by. I could become eccentric. Am I already eccentric? I could become the kind of person who wears turtlenecks. Or chokers. Or those big draped pashminas that I could wrap around my neck and shoulders. Bright and bohemian, like something an artist would wear. What about bow ties? I could start wearing button-ups and ties instead of my old riot grrrl band t-shirts and flannels. Maybe I can practice by buttoning up my flannels. At least until we can go shopping.

The line in the road is double solid now, curving but impassive, but you speed up again and whip around the logging truck anyway. The driver honks; we raise our middle fingers.

I always liked Diane Keaton, you say. I say, I was just thinking about her.


Flight Risk

Aimee Mann is a nervous flyer, which seems inconvenient for someone whose career mandates touring. That’s right, you say at my ear over the engine noise, the thunder rumbling outside, she’s playing in Troy tomorrow night. She’ll probably be on our flight to Albany too. Rain darkens the windows of the puddle-jumper as we wait for takeoff. We glance back between the seats and watch her  head, so tall, so alert, as she listens to the safety demonstration. Her forehead creases. Make sure your carry-on items are placed completely under the seat in front of you. Hasn’t she heard this a million times already? Even we don’t listen to the canned monologue. Even you don’t listen, as much as you hate to fly. But Aimee Mann listens. Her glasses reflect the tetherless oxygen mask and the fake yellow life vest. The flight attendant purses his lips to fake-blow into the little tube. Your seat cushion serves as an approved flotation device. Aimee Mann pulls the safety booklet from the taut pouch on the back of the seat in front of her. Keep in mind the nearest exit could be behind you. A crack of lightning outside the beaded windows, too close. You take your Xanax. Aimee Mann’s head turns left and then right to take in the exit row windows. How many people would she have to climb over? Could she make it? Her fingers tense as she grips the armrests. Save me, she will sing tomorrow night in Troy. Why don’t you save me, if you could save me—

Laura S. Marshall is a writer, educator, and former linguist who also serves on the editorial staff of jubilat. Her work appears in 8 Poems, juked, decomP magazinE, Epigraph Magazine, Califragile, Junoesq, and elsewhere. She is an MFA candidate at UMass Amherst.