I think about the airplane.

I first saw the airplane when I was nine. I was smaller then; we all were, except the adults, who were bigger. I saw it sitting in a field, behind a shack which I later learned had been its hangar. Its wings were streaked with grime, and had gone brittle long before, the plastic crumbling slightly at the edges. Weeds grew around the nosewheel, and the landing light in front stared off into endless nonexistent runways approaching from the existing night.

I turned off the road to walk across the field, curious.

It didn't turn to look at me. I wasn't insulted. I walked around it. There was the trash of several years littered about the cabin, and one of the doors was open, making it inevitable that I should climb in. I didn't. I looked at the instrument panel from outside, looked at the cracked and crazed glass and plastic, and then walked around behind to look at the empennage.

It was taller than me.

I looked up it, and cautiously reached out a hand to move the rudder, then thought better of it. The airplane remained supremely unconcerned at my presence. Wonderingly, I ran my gaze down each wing, slightly swept back and angled up, and tried to imagine what it would be like with the grime removed.

It hadn't flown in years.

Backing away from it slightly, I put my hands in front of my eyes and made a circle, trying to cut the airplane away from its surroundings, to imagine it in flight. I couldn't remove the shed from the background, though, and dropped my hands. I went to the front, to stare at the propellor, the airscrew, the spinner, the blades there. They still had faded red slashes of paint at the tips. I imagined that when in motion, they would produce a blurred red circle.

I wondered if it meant something.

The tires were flat, of course. Small plants grew out from under them, struggling to reach the light. There was a stain under the wings where the fuel had leaked into the ground oh so long ago and fewer plants grew there. The windows were slightly blurry with age, and the plastic had turned slightly yellow.

My fingers reached out again, slowly, and this time I did not stop them; they brushed the wings and came to rest on the propellor, cold slash of metal in the warm afternoon. The birds sang suddenly, then stopped. I removed my hand. I turned and left the field. The airplane didn't turn to watch me go. It sleepily stared out into space, where it had once been, and thought of the forgotten taste of gasoline.