Brendan Constantine

Cloud Pleaser

Tell me the one about the skeleton
and the stewardess again. I forget
how it ends. I know the plane goes
down over Yellowstone, but doesn’t
the skeleton get the last word? Isn’t
the punch line something about how
hard it is to find parking now that
all the cars are smart, how America
always has a head cold, how no one
truly wants a kitten? I remember
laughing really hard the first time
you told me. You’d think that’d be
enough to make a memory, but
somehow it wasn’t. I only seem to
hang on to sad things now. That’s
why I’ve been walking around all
day thinking about the stewardess.
Her father died that morning. There
was no time to get her shift covered,
so she got on the plane in a blur of
guilt and recrimination. When she
saw the skeleton sitting in First Class
she hardly reacted. It made sense,
I mean, of course she’d eventually
get a dead passenger. Death is
everywhere. Life is the intrusion,
the stowaway, the joke. The skeleton
asked for water, its voice soft as the
turn of a page. Then the windows
were full of trees and flame.