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Lou Jenkins is the award-winning author of
Every Natural Fact: Five Seasons of Open-Air Parenting
"If you combined the lyricism of Annie Dillard, the vision of
Aldo Leopold, and the gentle but tough-minded optimism of Frank
McCourt, you might come close to Amy Lou Jenkins.Tom Bissell
author of The Father of All Things
"Sentence by sentence, a joy to
Phillip Lopate, Author of
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Jean M. Madigan is a writer
living with her husband in Phoenix, Arizona and has stories published at
http://www.penwomanship.com. Madigan is also the Women
In History columnist for
penwomanship.com, and has a nonfiction piece published
http://www.whowon.com. Links can be found at her website:
Enjoy the drama in her short story.
Pelagia glanced at the
clock on her night stand. It was 1:27 a.m. She thought about the recurrent
nightmare she had that night, which bathed her in sweat and fear.
Pelagia and Clive were on
the plane with "M36JH" painted on its side. The sky in Flagstaff at 7:51 a.m,
June 15, 1986 was robin egg blue. Her friend, Forsythia, snapped pictures of
them with her camera. They boarded the plane with a thermos and camera. This was
Pelagia's first flight.
Despite her fear, Pelagia
consented to the journey. She wanted to conquer her phobia and to please Clive,
who wanted her with him when theyvisited
Canyon de Chelly, near Chinle, Arizona. She clung to him like a life preserver
while he piloted the plane.
he said, shaking her arm off of his. "I'm very experienced. Nothing is going to
happen to us." He smiled, and Pelagia settled into her seat. He looked back at
her from the pilot's seat. There's coffee in that thermos. Have some."
She drank a cup, savoring its strong, fragrant smell, dozed for a few minutes,
but awoke suddenly. Clive slumped over the wheel. She felt his wrist, but found
none. Frantic, she prayed, "Whoever you are out there, I don't know how to fly
this thing!" The plane spiraled downward, and Pelagia braced herself, hugging
her knees to her chest. The craft careened out of control, narrowly missing a
mountain range. Then it happened. They crashed into the silent desert night,
outside of Yuma. She was unconscious for a time, then stumbled from the wreckage
into the cold night, battered and bleeding. She had bruises on her cheek and
arms. Her watch read 127 a.m. They were supposed to be married in eight hours.
Sadness engulfed her like a shroud, and she stretched out her arms to the
heavens. "Why?" she cried, "why?"
Clive and Pelagia had been
sweethearts since grade school, from the time he lent her his handkerchief on
the day Jeffie Paxton tripped her, making her shins bleed. Thinking of this, she
glanced at her surroundings. She would have to get out of the desert, and on to
the highway as soon as possible. Grief would have to wait. Five or six hours had
slipped into the netherland of lost time, never to be recovered. What happened
next made her hair stand on end.
She heard the clatter of a
rattler, and stood perfectly still, like a soldier. "God, if that's your name,
don't leave me." For what seemed like a whole day, she stood still and the
rattler disappeared. Pelagia breathed a silent "Thank you." She was grateful for
whatever force guided her to Highway 8. It took three hours for a motorist to
see her. She turned, and saluted in the direction of the plane wreck, close to
the foothills of Castle Dome Peak. The desert stretches to infinity, a sea of
sage brush, sand and nothing. Her love lay dead there, in the blazing desert