By Ben Loory
The man meets a woman and falls in love. I want to marry you, he says. And he does.
Some time goes by, and one day the man is walking by the bathroom, when he looks inside and sees his wife with a pair of white wings on her back.
Wings? he says, looking at her in confusion. I never knew you had wings.
It’s better not to talk about it, his wife says with a smile, and quietly closes the door.
But what are they for? the man says at dinner. Where do they come from? And where do they go?
They’re not really wings, his wife says after a while. I really can’t give you much more.
The man becomes irritated. Frustrated. Angry. Why is his wife keeping things from him? All this time, he’s loved her so much, and now this—it’s so strange. Mystifying.
Time goes by and the man starts working late. He has an affair with his secretary—just physical. He comes home late at night and slips into bed.
He never sees those wings on his wife.
Then one morning the man wakes up and finds that his wife is gone. He wanders through the house, looking for a sign, something, a note, anything. But nothing is different, nothing has changed. All her clothes are there, her car. It’s just her, she, his wife that is gone. The man can’t think what’s gone wrong.
For some reason his attention is drawn to the yard. He steps outside and stares at the lawn. Then his gaze drifts up to take in the sky.
That’s when he has his idea.
It takes some time—a month or two—three—but the apparatus now is all ready. The man straps it on and straightens his goggles, then revs it and lifts off the ground.
At first, the air is very peaceful, a few birds moving here and there. But as he rises, other forms become clear, whirling about like leaves in the air. There’s Mrs. Kilcannon, who disappeared three weeks back; there’s Rodney, the Tastee Freeze manager. There’s Julia Barth; he hasn’t seen her in years, and Lucius—Hey Lucius!—from Florida.
The man glides about, back and forth, searching throughout the thickening sky. And the ongoing flyers peel off before him, their eyes locked on their own personal plight. For a while, it’s a nightmare, just churning confusion, but then it all stops, and suddenly widens. And there’s the man’s wife, falling straight from the sky, and there the man goes, sharply diving.
He dives and he dives—the machine’s to the limit—there’s the ground coming up, there’s his wife. And he catches her then, at the very last minute, and touches down, clinging to his life.
Ben Loory lives in Los Angeles, in a house on top of a hill. His fables and tales have appeared in Barrelhouse, Wigleaf, Knock, The Delinquent, A Cappella Zoo, and more. His book “Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day” is currently seeking a home. He can be found on Facebook, or writing creative non-fiction at TheNervousBreakdown.com.