I don’t know. I google it, tell him they’re red to get his attention. He laughs, goes on to the next question. Why, he says, big smile as if he knows he has me on this one, do planes fly?
I laugh. I know the answer, and it’s not what he thinks, not gobbledygook about lift, thrust, and drag. They fly, I say, because they are on a schedule. People depend on them. People have to go from here to there, and when an air traffic controller says go, the plane goes.
He nods. My answer satisfies him as I knew it would. He is seven-years-old and likes explanations that border on logic and reasonableness. Even though his questions sometimes bend towards science, he is a sociologist by instinct and hates it when I google for the answer.
So, he says, staring at the gray trail of exhaust in the sky, Why is the plane so loud? He covers his ears. Really loud . . . like thunder.
Air displacement? I think. My thumb goes to the phone. Or is it just the rumble of the engine we hear? Now I’m interested. I want to know, and he is waiting quietly because the plane is gone now, out of sight, out of sound.
I pocket my phone, look at him, look at the sky, the now empty sky, and the park we are standing in, the grassy park. It has to be noisy, I say, so you know it is there.
To make me look up?
Yes, I say. To make you look up.
Big smile. Like the birds, he says.
They sing, and I see them.
He’s running now. A thrush called to him, and he’s looking for her, running to see her, and then he’ll ask me why her wing is brown or how many bones in a bird’s foot or why does snow melt when it gets warm, and I’ll say so you can ask me questions—and he’ll laugh that little boy laugh and take my hand, and we’ll go home.
© 2013 Kathleen Coskran