We Have Questions – Regina Ernst

She’s in my cubicle, like always, sitting on top of my fake oversized Coach work bag in my guest chair, when I tell her I’ll be flying with that airline.

She finishes her gulp of coffee and says too loudly, OH MY GOD!

And I say, at least statistics are working in my favor. At least it’s unlikely to happen again, you know, this year.

We’re talking about the engine that exploded or failed or fell off the plane, and how that woman got sucked halfway out of the window, and then dragged back in by two people, maybe it wasn’t two people, but the woman was already dead.

No, she wasn’t, she tells me. It was someone else.

No, it was her, I say.

We don’t know for sure, because we’re not journalists and we both only glimpsed at the headline.

I guess it was that her seatbelt wasn’t on? I ask.

Yeah, I don’t know, probably, whoa.

We talk about the mysteries of death and bodies full of organs and systems, about the fear and awe of lifelessness, and because we’re not doctors, we can’t fully grasp what a crushed brain means or a stabbed stomach or how those injuries cause life to leave us. We talk about how life ever came to us and how maybe there’s no purpose at all.

She tells me she’s been thinking about it. Where did her body get caught, her hips? She asks me. What happened to her head, oh god, her face? Impact with the window? Did her head break that thick airplane window? Can it even shatter?

We have questions. We think people tried to block the window, put a blanket, then a backpack, but everything got sucked out.

Idiots, we say, but in the next breath, confirm they were panicked and not thinking straight.

I can’t get it out of my mind, she tells me, how if that woman didn’t get caught halfway, she would’ve flown out the window and fallen, living or dying, down somewhere inside or just outside this city.

A body smashing, at whatever mile per hour, which we don’t know for sure, because we’re not mathematicians, into the earth. Maybe on a house, in the street, we don’t know, we can only imagine in sort of a cartoonish way what would happen if we were her.

 

***

Regina Ernst graduated with her MFA in Fiction from UNLV. She lives in Philadelphia. Her flash fiction can be found in Nailed Magazine, Portland Review, and Queen Mob’s Teahouse.

 

Try this