TRAJECTORY by Nicholas Claro

Like everyone else, when I see the plane, I get up from the table to get a better look. I’m not exactly sure at what speed planes travel, but I know a plane must travel faster when it’s diving. 

Nothing is on fire. Not the engines. Not the wings. Not the cabin. Not the cockpit. There is no trail of smoke or debris, nothing looks out of the ordinary. 

Except, of course, that it’s traveling down.

Nearby, a few servers cluster together and begin speculating. 

“I bet its terrorists,” one whispers. 

“My money’s on human error,” another says. 

“Or mechanical,” says another. 

“Aren’t those basically the same thing?” the first one says. 

Now the servers and most everyone else have their phones out, held up, recording or livestreaming. 

Everyone except me and a nearby woman who has an infant pressed against her chest. She holds the baby’s head in place so they have no choice but to face the opposite direction of the falling plane. 

And then it happens. A split-second after the plane disappears, there’s a brief flash and a then pillar of curling black smoke spewing fire climbs high into the air. When the sound of the explosion reaches me, it’s no louder than a refrigerator door sucking closed.

“Holy shit,” one of the servers says. 

“This isn’t happening,” the woman says, quietly. I hardly hear her. She starts bouncing the baby, rapidly patting the child’s back. She looks away, looking at me. “That didn’t just happen.”

“I had a brother once,” I say.


Nicholas Claro is an MFA candidate in fiction at WSU and reads fiction for Nimrod International Journal. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Pithead Chapel, Bending Genres, Heavy Feather Review, Fictive Dream, X-R-A-Y, Necessary Fiction, and others. He lives in Wichita, Kansas.

Art based on a design by Steve Anwyll.

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