We Made Paper Airplanes Because We Were Sad


A stack of paper, tossed on the floor, blank with unexpressed thoughts, was gathered—quickly and without hesitation—and an assembly line created. The pristine white sheets were separated, carefully creased, and constructed into twenty-three soaring arrows meant to save us. The airplanes were imperfect from the start; damaged before they left our hands by the flaws we accidentally gave them. Their wings were slightly dented, their lines slightly crooked. They were the best and worst of us. And not all of them made it. Some crashed swiftly to the ground and never found the poetry of perfect movement. Others never fell from grace and found a solid landing, slowly, artfully, and with purpose. But they all had a chance. One by one they took flight, twisting, turning, swooping down. As they flew, we felt it; that second—brief but perfect—where happiness somehow seemed possible. And as they landed, we knew it couldn’t last—because we were sad. We were sad for things we couldn’t forgive, for moments we stole that weren’t ours, and for loves we shouldn’t remember, but did. We were sad because we couldn’t help ourselves, we just were. And when we were done, and their broken flimsy bodies lay strewn at our feet on the cold, hardwood floor, a quiet descended. Because even if we made nine hundred and seventy-seven more, hoping to be granted some sort of wish, we knew we would still be sad. We wouldn’t be sad forever. And we wouldn’t even be sad tomorrow. But because we were not so young not so old in a fated city, sadness would always find us, and claim us, if just for a moment.

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image – James Humphries