In Lieu of an Elegy
That summer Stacy had completed her sophomore year at the University of Montana; she was picking up money for next fall's tuition by serving cones at the ice cream parlor north of town. On the third occasion, I came in she gave me a double-scoop butter pecan waffle cone instead of the single I'd ordered.
"On the house," she said as I, and the cone, melted in her gaze. "Just don't put it in the newspaper."
Stacy was blonde, with hypnotic blue eyes. The pleasure of her company notwithstanding, she stirred gloomy thoughts–as only three or four females in my life have–of assignations that never happened: would-be loves that lived in the past, nipped in a crimson bud forever.
Three weeks after I saw her last, Stacy was en route back to Montana from Colorado with her family in their private Cessna. They were low on fuel, but her dad decided to make one more turn around the airport on the hill so that Stacy's mom could practice a landing. Four hundred feet off the tarmac the engine quit and the plane pancaked into the ground, the impact driving Stacy's contacts up into her skull. The only survivor of the family of five was Stacy's older brother John, paralyzed for life from the waist down.
Plangent voices in the dark winds of Purgatory: too late, too late.
early morning wind