I could not understand what he was saying so I just shook my head in a
neutral but hopefully empathetic fashion. He had a patch on his shirt
like the kind mechanics have. It said, Skijm.
Skijm was speaking a language I was not educated on—its words
sped past me with no handles for me to grab on to.
His hands and then his arms fluttered and then his shoulders joined in
too. I watched his face for any kind of signal or direction. What he
was saying grew larger and larger between us, a word balloon
threatening to pop. I think I heard the words "airplane" and
My eyes dilated like a parachute opening and he recognized my
recognition of the word. Inside my head, a little foreign man landed
softly on my brain. He rolled around with many injuries there, bones
sticking out every which way. The parachute landed like a whisper on
top of him.
I uttered a word by accident. A sudden, sorry, and high-pitched
Skijm's hands and arms became stiff then, and his language stopped on
his tongue. The heavy word balloon sagged between us but his shoulders
remained animated. Suddenly, there were tears on his cheek, racing to
the corners of his mouth.
"Yes," he said. "Really."
He moved closer, like he wanted me to hold him.
Kevin Sampsell's memoir, A COMMON PORNOGRAPHY, will be out from HarperCollins next week.
To link to this story directly: http://wigleaf.com/201001parachute.htm
Detail of illustration on main page courtesy
w i g · l e a F