Crash Landing

Crash Landing by Chase Burke

Reginald, who hated the sound of his own name, the sound of his own voice, made paper airplanes from the pages of used books. Reginald knew that this construction was not original. He didn’t know who, or when, or why, but he knew that the idea—tear the pages out of dime-store sci-fi novels, out of forgotten romance yarns—was one of those things that must have been done to death. He didn’t really care.

Saturdays Reginald would go to the used-book store and prowl the bottom shelves, looking for 25¢ books with colorful covers. He liked the look of brightness faded from years of shelved pressure. He would buy some, spend a dollar, sometimes more, sometimes less, and leave. He’d buy an ice cream on the way home, eat it in a waffle cone. He’d go home, a place he always wanted to leave. He’d sit at a crooked table in the kitchen. He’d tear pages. Align. Fold. Fly.

When he drove the main street of town with the windows of his junkyard Ford cranked down, tossing wordy airplanes into the street, Reginald imagined passersby seeing the planes, picking them up, reading them, and feeling affected in some way. He always thought this, even though he worried about affectation, like a lot of us do. I don’t know what anyone would want with paper airplanes lying in the street. The transformed pieces of a story. Would you grab a soggy, wordy airplane from a puddle? It wouldn’t even be an airplane anymore.

Chase Burke is an MFA candidate at the University of Alabama, though he has always thought of Florida as home. His writing appears or is forthcoming in Sycamore Review, SmokeLong Quarterly, Atticus Review, Perversion Magazine, and GIGANTIC Sequins, among others. He was the runner-up for the Sycamore Review’s Wabash Prize for Fiction and a finalist in both American Short Fiction’s Short Story Contest and Glimmer Train’s Very Short Fiction Contest. Find him on Twitter @cpburkejr.