• Vol. 08
  • Chapter 01

Safety Wings


Todd winks at me, wipes his brow with a grease-stained hand. He’s been working on our boat: replacing the motor with airplane engines, installing a propeller at the nose, attaching wings to the sides. I peck his sweaty cheek.

Roads are full. No space for one more ant to crawl. Dried-up rivers, seas, and oceans have been converted to parking lots. Car travel requires booking of lanes and time-slots, days in advance.

Parachutes, balloons, and battery-operated safety wings are selling like pumpkins before Halloween. Air vehicles are being prototyped by geniuses. People are growing restless, as always, and creative.

“Kelly, Sean, let’s pick up Papa Pilot’s pepperoni pizza,” Todd shouts, poking his head through the door connecting the garage to the house. “I’m placing the order.”

A chorus of “Yay” followed by the pitter-patter of feet down the stairs. A predictable outcome of the words “pizza” and “pick up.”

“Wear your safety wings, everybody,” Todd instructs, goes inside to wash and change.

I clip the pink wings to Kelly’s shoulders, blue to Sean’s, red to Todd’s after he returns, smelling fresh and clean. Todd helps with my green wings. Colorful butterfly-family. Everyone hits a button to fold the wings before stepping into the boat-plane.

We sail in air, the sky obscured by awkward vehicles and beings: a woman on a winged kitchen island, a boy on a bicycle tethered to balloon, two girls on a swing set pulled by tens of kites.


Safety Wings

Papa Pilot’s Pizza fly-through lines appear long but move fast.

“Be careful,” says a woman’s face at the pickup window, “the pizza is extra hot. The box is temperature-controlled for higher altitudes.”

Sean holds the pizza box, inhales its aroma.

“I want fries, Daddy!” Kelly demands. Can’t blame her. For days, the kids have been eating food cooked by me.

Todd flies in to McDonald's, maneuvers into a fly-through lane. A red heart-shaped balloon hovers in the adjacent line.

“Mommy!” Kelly and Sean shout.

Anna raises her head from the shoulder of a man, seated beside her on a velvet couch tethered to the heart-balloon. She waves at us. The man is handsomer than Todd, possibly younger. Taller, I can tell.

“The man who stole Mommy!” Kelly shouts.

“I don’t like him,” Sean replies.

I can smell Anna’s fragrance—primrose mixed with something citrus. I had scrubbed it from the closet, washed it off the bedsheets.

Sean jumps off, clutching the pizza. His wings open.

“Sean!” I shout. Kelly shrieks.

The boy lands on the velvet couch, into Anna’s lap. Opens the pizza box. The man is about to pick a piece when Sean slams the box with the hot disc on his face, rubs it in, as if it were a birthday cake.

“Aah!” the man falls off the couch. No safety wings open.