The plane was back in the air, halfway around the world when Charlie checked for the time and realized he forgot his watch in the seat pocket. The silver Shinola was his father’s, an Air Force then commercial pilot who spent more time in the air than on the ground. The watch was always on him. But even with the time permanently strapped to his wrist, he always lost track of it.
“Son, what’s the time?” he’d ask Charlie in the front pew at church.
“Son, you don’t have the time do you?” he’d ask a waiter with his hands resting on the table, shirt cuff just covering the precision timepiece on his wrist.
Charlie thought about his dad back in the air, cutting through moonlit clouds, losing track of time. He imagined starlight glinting off the faceplate, reflecting light-years old light. His dad, gone a year now, back where he loved most to be except now, no longer in control. He was along for the ride instead of navigating the way. While we’re all pilots on this trip, we’re passengers on the next.
Sometimes Charlie buys a plane ticket and walks the airport terminals. He looks out at the gravity-defying machines lined up in neat rows. There’s nothing more hopeful than the glint of the sun off a silver wing, reflecting the sky that it’s destined to become. When they call his boarding number, Charlie stays back and watches the tires of the plane leave the earth. Time stands still as his new watch ticks ahead another minute. And then another.
All of our odds are one in 100 million. For some of us, that’s the only one that matters. On a hot July night, a single faulty sperm started its three-day journey against the current and against the odds to put me here, standing before you, whole, but wrong. My left arm is my right. I have five pinky toes, six ring fingers and the uncanny ability to fuck things up. From the beginning I was a mistake, and I didn’t want to be mistaken for anything else. Then, on a melting summer afternoon, three of my pinky toes stubbed into the back of a stranger’s heel on the train. Instead of looking away, I looked up. I smiled and she smiled. We stood there in our smiles. She reached out with her left arm which was her right. “I’m Alice,” she said. Now, one happy marriage, five grown kids and 42 years later, I’m here to tell you that you can take an exception and find an intention. That the odds are forever in your favor. That a few chromosomes start with infinite possibilities and end with just one.
About the Author: Andrew got his start in the word business delivering Warren Buffett’s newspaper. Now he makes a living writing commercials. He also writes poetry, prose and text messages. His work has been published in Liquid Imagination, X-R-A-Y, and YogaPoetica.