By Debra levy

– 1 –

It’s for your own good, she says. Otherwise you’ll bake like a pork tenderloin.

Or does she call me a pork tenderloin? Or maybe what she says is,

            Are you hungry yet? Dinner’s getting cold. If you don’t eat your pork tenderloin,

            he will.

             I have no appetite. Surely, that she can understand?

And what I think she finally says is, What in hell? Or maybe

Who in hell?


– 2 –

She is his mother.

This is her farm.

The old man died, is why we moved here.


– 3 –

Those blades,

constant breath of cool air

on clammy skin.

Flailing, mesmerizing arms. Sweeping clockwise, cocksure. Cord I can’t reach.

Can only try to grasp,  with sweaty palm reaching over, over, please,


These whispering voices between whish and woo. Last night it was the woman again, desperate. Please, she wailed, please help me.



Blades chopping air, like a propeller at night.


– 4 –

Your plane…………. streaking ………………across ………………….the ………………

…………………………………………………………………………………….. blue sky.

I wave.

Down here, Amelia! Look! Can you see me?


– 5 –

In 1935, you’re a visiting faculty member at Purdue University. Brilliant technical advisor to the aeronautical engineering department, you also career-counseled female students.


If only

I had been one of your students. If only I had been in your presence, bending           forward to listen, hanging on every word:

            Yes, mam, I do wish to do something special with my life.

            That’s right, there is more than corn in Indiana. {{{We both laugh.}}}

            Though I do come from farm people. Corn, soy, wheat.

            There’s a lot of corn in this state.


Those crystal blue eyes, staring into mine, would have expected dreams higher than twilight’s noctilucent clouds. You, Icarus’s daughter. Most days before I took to the bed, my feet were submerged in rows of muck and pig shit.


– 6 –

In 1937, you attempt to circle the world in your Lockheed Model 10 Electra, and on July 2, you and crew member, Fred Noonan, take off from Lae, New Guinea

and disappear


en route to

Howland Island.






Your last words. Pilot parlance.

I know what you said, Amelia.

I read your words while floating on this going-nowhere raft, tangled up in sweaty sheets, stuck like a barnacle — though I’m mixing metaphors now.


– 7 –

Back to the blue.

To whirring blades. Chop-chop. Your voice calling out: “Help!”





I am on a line of position across this bed. I am not running anywhere. I am as big as a house, my belly an island. The only one lost here is me.


– 8 –

On January 5, 1939, you’re declared dead in absentia.

But I know where you are, Amelia. You call to me through whipping blades. More than once through white static I have heard.

Shh, I want to say, shh, listen.

But does he ever? No. He grunts, like a pig.


– 9 –

On some day in some year I will be declared dead in presentia. They will stop looking for me. Actually, they will never even comb my comb for broken hairs, because my disappearance will be a long time coming.

            Why look so long in the tooth? he says, his hands black with soil and smelling of horseshit and gasoline.


– 10 –

It was her idea, the fan. Not mine.

I do nothing special here but wait for the miracle of birth to take flight, or land, or who knows — maybe even crash.

Voices from past and future speak to me through those damn blades.

Chopping words.

Humming in the wires.

Words winging through the dark.



– 11 –

I told her. I said, I hate a fan.

Did she listen to me?

Of course not.


– 12 –

Down here, I am waving at dispersing contrails.

Down here, I am less than an ant crawling through the cornfields.

Down here,


here …






I want to fly. For your words I have given my coordinates, my heart,


(((rescue me))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))).




About the author

Debra Levy

Debra Levy's work has previously been published in Little Fiction, the Alaska Quarterly Review, Columbia, South Dakota Review, Brevity, The Pinch, and others. Her collection of flash fiction, A Binary Heart, was published in 2017 by Finishing Line Press.