“Cape” by Kim Chinquee
Last night, I dreamed that I was in a clearing in a forest, and my wife was below me, yelling that I should fly higher to avoid danger. It was nighttime, there were some stars. I felt scared as I rose, but then I felt very happy, because my wife joined me over the forest, and we escaped along the mountain ridges.
It is a dream I have not had in so long. It is the kind of dream that I’ve missed having, one that I had so many times before when I was a young boy. Most of you have probably had this dream as well: the flying dream. Yes, when I was little, I often dreamed that I could fly. In my dream, I floated out of my room, down the stairs to the landing at the front door of our house, and outside.
Back then, my father was a pilot nearing height of his trajectory; he had had a great career in the Air Force and was gaining seniority at USairways (then USAIR). And, before my freshmen year in college, he had risen well, earning a regular transatlantic route on the 767s and 757s in the right seat, and then he had been promoted to captain on a 737 on the Eastern Seaboard. 9/11 changed all of that.
When I think of very very short stories, I cannot help but think immediately of “Cape” by Kim Chinquee. In fact, it is one of the few very short short stories that I can recall to mind; granted, I don’t read a lot of very very short short stories, so I’m not exactly on expert on the genre.
“Cape” consists of seven sentences. “Cape” consists of fifty-six words, not counting the title. In NOON, where it was first published, the body of “Cape” takes up five lines of text. “Cape” begins with this sentence:
I landed in a church lot, where a bunch of people sat around, celebrating the institute of flying.
I want to return to a time when I feel as though I can celebrate the institute of flying. I want to tear out this Kim Chinquee story, fold it into a tiny airplane, and fly it on its way to my father. I want to remind him of how he fell in love with flying all those years ago.