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Grey Sparrow Journal

Issue 30, July 31, 2017
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Just the Sky

 

by Scott Szpisjak


 

 

A woman was flying across the grey sky.

 

Her striped skirt had been caught in the wind and she had been lifted up like a torn plastic bag, hitting every building she came near. All day, people looked up at her. At last, when the wind died down and the air turned cold with night, she landed on the top of a dumpster, in the alleyway behind my building. I turned off the news.

 

The air was cold and still when I took out the trash. The woman was asleep on top of the dumpster when I arrived. I slid the door open and threw in my trash. The sound woke the woman, and she sat up.

 

“Are you alright?”

 

She was looking around, regaining her bearings. “I cut my leg.” She pulled her dress up to her knee to show me. Blood from the gash had mixed with the dirt and grime from the streets and dried in the fabric of her torn stockings.

 

The hospital was a long walk away. “Do you need bandages? I can take you to my apartment if you’d like.”

 

“Your name, first.”

 

“Alexei Zhilov.”

 

She climbed down from her perch. “Tatiana.” She didn’t give me a surname.

 

The doorman let us in the building. We had to take the stairs, but it was not too much trouble since I lived on the third floor and her leg wound looked worse than it was. In my apartment, she dressed her wound and I put her dress in the wash. She fell asleep on my couch, in an old pair of my pajamas, stocking coiled on the floor like molted snakeskin. I went to bed after hanging her dress up to dry.

 

***

 

When I woke up the next day she was making breakfast.

 

“Why were you flying?” She had put the dress back on, and it was wrinkled.

 

“I just bought the dress at the beginning of the month. I hadn’t broken it in enough.

 

She put the toast on two plates, and we sat down to eat. I looked out the window.

 

“Where do you live?”

 

“In the city.”

 

 “Near here?” I looked at her. “How close?”

 

“Close enough to walk.”

 

“Or fly?”

 

Her lips stayed straight and level as she thought. “Yes, it’s close enough.” She took a bit of her toast, leaving a crescent shaped hole in a piece of sausage.

 

The windows were thin, and I heard the trash truck through them. The cloth near the toes of one my socks was wearing thin and I could see my toenail through it. “You don’t need a hospital, do you?”

 

“I’m fine. You’ve done more than enough for me.” For a while the only sound was that of our forks scraping our plates.

 

“Thank you for the breakfast.”

 

“You’re welcome.” Scraping.

 

“I don’t want to take any more of your time.” She stood up, and like that she was leaving; there wasn’t anything left to hold her down. I stood up to say goodbye, knocking my cheap chair onto the ground in the process.

 

 “It was nice meeting you. It was helpful.” She was looking at the chair on the floor, not me. She smiled, but her eyes refused to settle on one spot.

 

I put the chair back in place. “There’s no point in showing you out.” I was looking at my empty plate.

 

“I guess not.”

 

She left as I started to wash the dishes.