by Richard R. Barron
My tears fall in her hair. She says she’s 5’4″ tall, but in my arms, she felt smaller.
We pull away from each other and look at each other through our tears. I smile, and more tears come. This is goodbye.
I thought about those tears as I made the eight-hour drive home that night. As I thought, I listened to Major League Baseball playoffs on the radio. But she was so in my mind that if you had asked me right then who was playing, I couldn’t have told you.
Back to goodbye.
Her beautiful charcoal-black eyes that seemed to see right through me, her perfect heart-shaped face that lit up when she sang the theme from thirtysomething to me, her small hands that held the night… it all started to convince me that she could stay by my side and be my beautiful…
It all stopped right there. This was goodbye, and it would have been harder if I hadn’t flown away.
The stall horn on a Cessna 150 is about the same size and shape as a kid’s kazoo. It’s connected to a stall vane on the leading edge of the wing, so that when the angle of attack becomes critical, air flows through the kazoo and makes noise.
My flight instructor, a country boy named Phil, said, “Now try it again.”
I pull the throttle to idle and hold the nose of the plane above the horizon, and wait. The wind noise over the aircraft gets quieter, and we start to hear the stall horn.
“AaaeeeeaeaeaeaeeAEAEAEAEAEAEEEEEEEEE!” it screams. It’s not my first stall. In fact, I’m getting pretty good at them. With the stall horn continuing to yell at us, the wing wallows in the air, but I keep the wing level with aggressive rudder inputs.
This is fun. This has purpose. This is challenging.
I am growing.
I never forgot the beautiful girl with eyes like a stormy night. As breathtaking as she was to look at, she was worth remembering because she was so interesting. I was never bored. There was always a tempest of complex thought, and pain, in her eyes and in her heart. It was like a morning thunderstorm inside her, like the crashing of the sea on a rocky coast, like the thunderous roar of wild horses in a canyon.
Now, though, she was gone. The night gets late, but I continue to listen to the drone of baseball on AM radio, and hear the sounds of the road. I shake back tears. I try not to think about her tears. I think about my tears landing in her hair as I held her and said goodbye.