Patricia sits on the edge of her bed. Her red sweater is bundled around her and black boots encase her feet. The sunshine peeks through the blinds and lands across her frame.
She stares at the mirror. It reflects the room—the crumpled blankets, the two pillows resting against the head board. One of the pillows has an indent, a soft curvature where her head had been resting.
She stands and walks to the closed bedroom door, passing his two brown leather shoes that are flush against the wall. A thin film of dust has collected over them. Voices ring out from the living room. Her mother and her father and her little boy Davy. Laughter.
She stops for a moment. Her face registers no emotion.
When she exits, her father looks at her and smiles. He’s crouched over, talking with Davy, his hands on his knees. His face falters, then reasserts itself to that cheerful demeanor.
“You ready, Patty?”
She nods ever so slightly.
Davy smiles at her, great and big and carefree, like his father had done. He holds in his hands a small mahogany plane. It is hand-crafted, dark brown, made in the garage with a set of tools that she had purchased for his father two months ago. His project had been carving “Davy’s Plane,” a B-17 Flying Fortress from World War Two. She had watched him carve it, down to the last detail, a present for his son before the car crash stole him away.
As she backs out of the driveway, Davy buckled in the passenger seat, she sees her mother and father whisper. She can hear them talking about her, that she never leaves the house, that she still leaves those brown leather shoes where they are, that she never laughs at a joke or dances to music she always loved.
Davy sits quietly as the houses roll by. He clutches the mahogany plane in his hand, careful not to disturb the solitude of his mother. She hasn’t taken him to the playground since the crash. It was always Davy’s father’s thing—taking Davy to there. She knows Davy has wanted to go for weeks now. Her parents think it is time.
The playground is small, with a set of slides, a jungle gym, a sandbox, and a swing set. It is vacant. She notices the places where Davy’s father and Davy had played. They had built sandcastles and he had pushed Davy on the swing set, big and strong, the wind ruffling his black hair, those brown leather shoes shining in the sunlight.
Davy watches her stare at the playground. She turns to him, as if just noticing there were two people in the car instead of one. She unlocks the car and gestures at the playground as if to say—Go ahead.
Davy pushes open the passenger side door and jumps down onto the pavement. He’s smiling and swishing the plane through the air, aerial moves with small engine sounds thrown in. He walks to the sandbox and sits down in the grains of sand. His hands run through the sand, creating small rivulets that resemble streams running next to one another.
When Patricia steps out of the car, the emptiness of the playground envelopes her. She sits on the bench and folds her arms around her midsection. The sunshine graces her face but the warmth of the rays do little to brighten the dullness of her eyes.
Davy picks up two handfuls of sand and lets them run through his fingers. He does this again and again, until he has formed a large pile. With one hand, he chops it in half. He looks up at his mom and smiles, but her face registers no emotion.
If Davy is disappointed, he doesn’t show it.
“Hey, mom, watch this!” he says.
He picks up the mahogany plane and starts to run. He runs under the swing set and around the jungle gym and through the sandbox and he holds that mahogany plane high above him, its nose pointed to the blue sky, the brown wood bright in the sunshine. Patricia watches, her eyes following him, and in that moment she sees her son, little Davy, just eight years old, small and thin and smiling as he runs around the playground, flying that mahogany plane high in the sky. She sits up slightly and her arms loosen around her midsection. She remembers Davy doing this before, with his father standing near where she was now sitting, and he had clapped and he had cheered—chanting Davy’s name and announcing the flight like Davy was one of those acrobatic pilots at an air show. She remembers that scene and as Davy continues to run and swoop, she thinks about his father—his smile and his laugh and the way he had held her in his arms. She tucks her head down and sobs shake her frame.
Davy stops then. He approaches her, mahogany plane in hand. He tugs on the sleeve of her sweater.
Her sobbing slows, then stops. She looks up, takes a deep breath, and wipes the tears off her face. She sees her son.
“Davy the amazing aerial bomber,” she says. “I want to see it again.”
Davy’s smile beams and he starts running through the playground, the mahogany plane high in the sky.
Patricia stands and starts to clap. She smiles.
Christopher Tepedino is a fiction writer living in Cary, NC.