If you look closely you will notice that many contrails appear a fraction of a second before their planes. Or at least this is what the man, well-dressed and handsome, told me outside the liquor store. Hats are for taking off, he continued, which today’s youth do not realize. Tell me more about the planes, I insisted, uncomfortable with the number of hats I’ve owned and never wore. He removed a notebook from his inside coat pocket and cleared his throat:
The real and imagined distances between our terrestrial lives and those in economy class are rarely bridged; these gaps in sensibility often contribute to a general confusion of velocities. Within the space of this confusion one can see — with careful scrutiny – the small ways in which cause and effect choose to deviate from their norms (though the whole thing tends to break down the moment one reaches for their camera).
I did my best to look incredulous without offending. He returned his notebook to its pocket and proceeded, with excruciating slowness, to point his other hand toward the sky. Before orienting myself to the line of sight he suggested I took a moment to stare at the fingernail of his extended digit — a carefully manicured inversion of standard form. Its edges came up to separate points and its tip receded back toward the finger. His nail resembled a pair of tiny abstracted horns, and were he to trace a shape in the sand, its lines would be doubled.
By resting my chin on his shoulder I could more accurately observe that which he was indicating: Neither the plane or its contrail, but a negligible disorientation between. After I gasped in mild astonishment he stepped aside, tapped his finger to his nose, and returned to the warmth of the liquor store.