Model Airplanes

Eric Beeny

Among the mirrors and rows of lip and eyeliner like surface-to-air missiles on the dressing room countertops, and the baskets of fruit and the bouquets of flowers with little cards with people’s names written on them and the giant bulbs framing the mirrors, Arianna sat in front of one on a hard wooden stool facing herself, what she looked like.

According to her agent, what she saw was the future.

She held a kerchief in her hand.

It was rubbed on and all black with gunk from her whole face crying.

“Your mascara’s bruised,” Gina said walking into the dressing room.

“You think he’s coming?” Arianna said.

“He’s cutting it close,” Gina said, penciling in her eyebrows, looking at the clock on the wall behind her in the mirror. “But yeah, I think he will.”

As a child, Arianna didn’t have any brothers or sisters.

Not that she did now, unless you count Gina, but Gina never helped her build airplanes.

The only thing Arianna had to look forward to when she was a child was getting home after school to an empty house and going up to her room to build airplanes.

Arianna finished one airplane every day, then went down to the kitchen and got a glass of milk, came back upstairs, sat on her bed and looked at it.

When her father got home late at night he’d crack her door to find her sleeping.

He’d take a bit of string and tie it to her new airplane, hang it with the others from the ceiling of Arianna’s room.

Arianna would wake up the next morning and know her father had come home again, and was maybe still there, though he never was when she ran into his bedroom.

She went down and stood on the stairway landing, calling him.

He never answered, the house empty and echoing.

He was never there when Arianna was, unless she was sleeping.

“I left like three messages,” Arianna said.

“I’m sure he got them,” Gina said.

“Yeah. I just hope he’s not mad at me.”

“If he is it’s his fault.”

“That’s not true.”

“You’re so goddamn honest. Just forget it. You can’t live your life worrying about every little thing you do. People take things differently. You can’t feel responsible for their insecurities.”

“Well, that’s how I handle things. I worry.”

“Well, then it is your fault. You shouldn’t have even told Evan about Lucas.”

Arianna’s head was down, and her eyes were wet and focused on the kerchief thick with black gunk she was holding, then she looked up at the clock on the wall behind her in the mirror.

Gina looked, too, said, “You should probably get out there,” finishing the last touches on her stenciled brows.

“Yeah,” Arianna said.

She wiped her eyes one last time, snuffing some snot up into her nose.

She looked at herself in the mirror, took a deep breath.

She felt like the result of a clock, proof of time’s hypothesis.

She laughed, and her reflection laughed superfluously.

She thought of her airplanes as she walked out onto the runway.

All the photographers standing or sitting or kneeling around the runway formed a constellation flashing too bright to trace lines in her head to map some image of a destination, if her career ever took off.

Years ago Arianna’s parts were dumped onto a table.

They didn’t come with instructions, or a compass.

She never had any glue.

Eric Beeny is the author of Snowing Fireflies, due out in summer 2010 from Folded Word Press. His blog is Dead End on Progressive Ave.


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