Kyle Krueger
Kyle Krueger

1. My grandmother had forbidden me from going to their house, so Jaine and Tamara starting sending me airmail. My bedroom window faced their yard, and when my grandmother wasn’t home or it was dark out, they would write me notes on paper airplanes and send them up through my window. I had just learned to read and write so it was all very exciting, and the way they would jump over the fence giggling and stumbling over each other to retrieve the planes that missed the window made me wish that I lived in their house instead of mine. When I told them this through the hole in the fence one day, they said that I was very sweet but my grandmother would miss me too much and that I would have to wait until I was older. I got very upset and ran inside. That night when they tried to send me airmail, I left my window closed, but they were still at it when I feel asleep. When I woke up the next morning, they were still out in the yard scooping up dew-soaked planes and laughing at the sun.

2. I’m not sure that I ever really believed that my parents had ended up in a better place or if they were going to be holding hands forever on a tray table full of barnacles at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. It was kind of a spooky thought, but I knew that they would think it was funny, in their own way. They always said I had an active imagination.

After the fire, I knew that Jaine and Tamara were in a better place and it didn’t matter what my grandmother said because I saw them go there. I woke up during the fire because I thought I heard the faint tap of some new airmail crash-landing against my window. I jumped out of bed and went to the window to watch them stumble across the fence to retrieve their first volley of planes, because they were never very good at climbing over it and would often fall, which always made me laugh.
When I got to the window, it wasn’t paper airplanes tapping on the glass. At first I thought that it was snowing, but it was only September and when I saw the light from next door I realized it was ash that was exploding out of the neighbors’ house like a ticker-tape parade.

I opened my window to get a better look outside when I saw them. They were standing in their bedroom window, two black matchstick figures bobbing and weaving, ringed with golden coronas against the inferno. There was no sound, not even the crackle of their house’s old bones burning brittle until they broke. There was only a silent waltz the two of them were dancing to until, just like that, they curled up into each other and flew away, twisting and spinning together and up, up, up through the starlit sky like two burning leaves on a fall afternoon.