When I was eight years old, I watched in awe as the plane swooped up and down, creating letters and words until the question “Will you marry me, Helen?” filled the beautiful Chicago skyline. Five feet from me stood Helen, weeping as she turned to her beaming man and said, “Yes.” They hugged, kissed, and told one another how much they loved each other. I turned back to the sky and stood there watching words dissipate. I thought to myself, what a wonderful gift the skywriter delivers to so many people.
I couldn’t help but remember that moment a few months ago when I lay on the beach in Malibu, watching another skywriter work his magic across the perfectly clear blueness. As the skywriter finished, I couldn’t believe what I read, “Your father never loved you.” I looked around to see if anyone was the sad recipient of this message. Most people pointed and laughed or just went on with their business, but I just grabbed my things and left. I couldn’t help but wonder, who would abuse the magic of skywriting with such hatred.
A few days later, as I walked home from my corner grocer chomping on a Kit-Kat bar, I looked up and noticed another phrase in the sky, “Do you really need to be eating that, tubby?” I turned around to see if anyone else shared the street with me. It was empty. I looked back to the sky and it read, “Yeah I’m talking to you.”
I looked to the pavement as a horrid darkness washed over me. I felt a series of emotions as I realized my beloved skywriter had betrayed me. I wondered, could this message be solely intended for me? Just then I noticed the sky writer finished a nice cursive “Yes.”
My jaw dropped and a piece of chocolate-covered wafer plopped from my mouth and onto my white linen shirt. Out of shear confusion, I dropped my bags, ran home, and slammed the door to only hear the sounds of a propeller swooping around and around over my house. I peaked through my dirty, grease-covered blinds to find the words, “Dwyer puts holes in melons and fucks them.”
I stepped back into my living room and then heard the sound of a second plane on the backside of my apartment. I opened the door and there in the sky it read, “I’m talking about the guy in 2B.” I looked down and there were a few of my neighbors staring at me. I quickly went back inside.
Confused and uncertain about what to do, I called a friend. “Todd, I need your help,” I said.
“Fuck you.” He said in an angered tone. “You’re sick in the head.”
“I swear I don’t have sex with melons.”
“I wouldn’t be surprised if you did mount melons, but that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about my party last week. How you had sex with my girlfriend as I lay passed out five feet away.”
I didn’t sleep with his girlfriend. I did dry hump her in a drunken flurry, but I’d never sleep with my best friend’s girlfriend.
“I didn’t,” I said nervously.
“Really?” Todd responded. “Well, it’s written across the sky right over the Hollywood sign, you fucking prick.” Todd hung up and, the second I placed the phone in the cradle, it rang again.
"Matt, it’s your mother,” she said in a stern, calm voice. “I am sorry to say this, but this will be the last time I ever speak with you.”
“Because I just read your essay on family and how it was a necessity for survival in the past but now is an antiquated concept and family is the love and bonds you choose to create with those around you.”
“Mom, I can’t get that published,” I said “How did you read it?”
“It was written over our house in a three-part series every Friday, with wine and cheese and then a closing live performance by Jimmy Buffet.” She began weeping and continued, “You used to be my favorite son, but not anymore.” There was a long pause. “And your father never did love you.”
She hung up the phone, and I felt my heart sink within me as my back hit the wall and I slowly slid to the floor.
The phone once again began to ring, but too depressed and filled with fear and paranoia, I didn’t answer. I just sat there for days, listening to message after message on my answering machine about what the skywriting messages were saying about me: “Hey, Dwyer. Did you really take twenty dollars out of my wallet?” BEEP. “Dwyer, the sky says you broke down crying at the point of penetration with some college girl in Iowa.” BEEP. “Dwyer, do you really think the works of Kerouac are unimportant and self-serving?” BEEP.
It went on for weeks and weeks and maybe months, but I spent so much time holed up in my apartment or only going out at night that I lost all sense of time. Eventually, I had to adjust my life and accept that there is nothing I can do about it. That disparaging comments written about me in the sky are just a part of my day-to-day life.
Some days are harder than others, like the ones when kids point and laugh at me and call me melon fucker. Or when it is nearly impossible to date a girl for more than an hour because usually in the sky above where we are dining hover the words, “Matt has a brand of syphilis unknown to mankind.” What can you do? That is my life. I just wonder what he’ll write in the sky at my funeral.