The Skydivers

By Erin Pringle

A couple jumped out of an airplane and began to fall.  Below them, the world went on, and they could no more see the grief and joy of others than they could from their kitchen table where they sat together on quiet mornings, watching the blue jays steal the birdseed from the robins as the couple waited for the bluebird to return. 

They had only seen the bluebird once, many years before, and since then they had each, unknown to the other, begun looking for the bluebird's return.  The husband wished for the bluebird because of how his wife had smiled.  The wife wished for the bluebird because she knew others had not seen it, not knowing the bluebird had come more than once than the time they saw it. 

It had sat on the windowsill watching the two birds made by the couple holding hands over the table, their elbows on the placemats.  But when the two birds did not return one morning, the bluebird flew away. 

Did you see that? the wife said. 

What did you see? the husband said. 

I think a bluebird. 

Yes, I think I did, too. 

The husband saw the wife smile, and she kept looking out the window.  He waited.  Still she peered.  Eventually, he got up and went about his day.

The woman was the first object to fall from the sky.  As she hit the ground, her bones cracking, her rib impaling her heart, she woke up in bed.  She reached out to touch her husband's cheek where he lay sleeping beside her.  She waited, not knowing if she should kiss him awake or close her eyes and imagine herself just before he landed in death beside her. 

When he opened his eyes, she saw how very blue they were. 

Originally published in Emrys.