Entry Five (in which my fingerprints appear)
Dear Mother –
A message of gravity . . .
Once, I stared out the window of an airplane as it ascended through fog and mist and clouds into the child-crayoned blue brightness that lay atop. As the airplane broke free of the thickness and leveled off, I stared out the window at the sky’s expanse and the slice cut from it by the silvered arc of the plane’s right wing. I rested my cheek against the small cool oval of the window’s glass, and I watched as the wing-cut view remained exactly the same across the miles.
I may have dozed off for a moment, or I may have simply blinked my eyes, but when I next looked out the window, the view had changed.
The sky was still blue.
The earth below was still shrouded.
The wing still cut a silvered arc.
But on the rear of the wing, on one of the moveable flaps, two perfect handprints had appeared. Not full handprints . . . four fingers to each hand, as though each thumb had been positioned beneath the wing to assist in maintaining grip. Something outside the plane had changed during my unseeing, revealing the traces of oils or dirt left behind by some now absent someone.
At first, I was merely curious about the once-invisible handprints’ coalescence, because I knew with a certainty that they had not been apparent when the plane had broken through the clouds. Rationally, I was aware that there was no big mystery – the prints had surely been left by a maintenance worker performing routine inspections pre-flight. The magic was attributable, in all likelihood, to the impact of an atmospheric change in humidity and temperature against oily residue. But as we continued to fly and I continued to stare, I could not shake the sense that there was something to the ghostly handholds other than routine. I stared until the fingerprints took shape and timbre as well . . . until it seemed to me I could see the fog-silhouetted outline of the man who had clung to the plane . . . until it seemed to me that I could taste his panic as final seconds of hope faded to absolute terror . . . until it seemed to me that what I had thought was a shriek of wind amidst the clouds had been in truth the scream of falling away.
I stared out the window and I could not breathe.
I could not shake the vision of the falling that would be required.
Of the letting go.
Mother, this journal was his idea, your idea, but now it’s mine. Everything hurts at the thought of letting go. Everything hurts.
The words within are me.
I feel as though I am holding onto the silvered edge of time as it slices through the air.
My hands ache with the holding.
Tomorrow will arrive, as tomorrows do.
And with it, I fear, the fall.
Dr. Richard Aileron . . . Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist
Look up the meaning of his name, Mother.
Look it up.
Aileron . . .
Mother, don’t you see?