Static

The owners have abandoned the drive-in, but the screen still stands: layers of projection and dreams peeling away year by year. We spent the nights of our youth in this place: ripe green farms surrounded the drive-in, cricket song, honest dirt, having to walk two miles to school in bare feet and snow. A sky burning full of stars until they fell from the sky.

Today, on this day, the silence matches the stillness. It feels that if I could cross the boundaries of the field, I would find that moment suspended in time. But the drive-in has been subsumed by the tall grasses in which gremlins hide.

That night, the drive-in was closed. I had begged my brother to bring me along, and the older kids had raised the gates and we all drove in and parked to watch the meteors rain down. My brother told me to go watch from the field. Then the brightest light shone down on us, quickly narrowing into a circle, violet in the center. There was a vacuum of sound that caused me to cover my ears. I looked up and saw all the girls we had brought with us start to lift off their feet or float carefree through the windows of our cars. One girl had her panties tangled around an ankle, and while she was drifting up up up, they slipped off. That’s what upset me the most: The girl was gone without her underwear. All the women seemed at peace: their arms were relaxed at their sides and each of them turned their faces towards the light as if it were a suntan beam.

Then utter darkness and I fell to the ground and sound rushed back into the world. Their chatter transmitted over the static on our car radios until they were out of range.

I come here every year for the meteor shower. Almost always I am caught and brought back to my father. He sits me and my brother at the dining room table and yells.

“Damn it, boy!” and he brings down his fist, rattling the spoons and teacups. “There have never been any women here. That’s the way it was and always will be.”

For my 40th birthday, my brother found me a radio. I compulsively turn the dial, but despite my hopes, all it plays is static.

Barbara McVeigh

 

Barbara McVeigh is a Canadian writer and teacher-librarian. Her favorite constellation is Orion and her preferred planet is Mars. She has written for 49th Shelf and Open Shelf, and has work forthcoming in formercactus. Find her on Twitter @barbaramcveigh. 

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