As is their nature, in the cold of winter, they leave for warmer shores. Fortunately, I’ve committed to memory their aerial dance and play it back in slow motion- a frame a minute to allow me to meditate on the aching beauty of their elegant necks and snow-white and black-tipped wings that gracefully stretch for one thousand years and back, thrusting them forward like a ruby crowned dart, before landing with a victorious V, framing the clouds that keep them company.
By the window, I watch and wait, it is all I can do, weighed down by dust and branded by coffee ring marks left on the torn page of the lined notebook that was folded to give me joints with minimal range of movement. The sharp creases of my form serve as lines separating me from them. Pierced and suspended, I float on my winter carousel, replaying memories of the cranes to bide time until the taunting promise of flight that summer brings.
“Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. We are experiencing turbulence and ask that you remain in your seats with your seat belts fastened.” AJ spoke the familiar words with practiced calm, but this time things were different. Flicking switches and adjusting controls on deck, he panicked when he noticed cabin pressure fluctuating, red lights flashing dire warnings. His heart rate quickened, echoing the knocks he could hear through the layers of steel. His hands unsteady as he made futile adjustments. Hyperventilating, his thoughts drifted to a regatta 30 years earlier, his hand in his dad’s, secure in their warmth and strength as he looked up to the dance of four planes, leaving a fleeting trail in their wake. They were coloured brightly, vivid blues, reds and yellows. He’d wanted to be a pilot since that day, vowing to make his father proud, to soar with invincibility through the sky, but he was always brought down to earth, reminded of his failings. A lifetime of regrets came into the focus of his mind’s eye with every tumble his plane took, hurtling toward its finale, without the grace and beauty of the stunt planes at the regatta.
Write approximately 200 words based on image of 4 planes doing stunts and maneuvers, leaving a trail of condensate through the sky. Prompt from Sunday Photo Fiction.