Luke Dylan Ramsey
“Else why stand we in jeopardy every hour?”
—Li-Young Lee, The City In Which I Love You
Nobody else thinks about this shit. Why should they? The what-if inherent in the term theophany entering the daily New Yorker lexicon. Hell, the global lexicon. The other universes that must’ve split off when She came alive. Can’t have happened in every timeline. Miracles don’t happen often, even here. But… I shouldn’t use the word miracle, should I? The word connotes and denotes that the ensuing changes are welcome.
Lot of fundamentalists created that day…
I was an undergrad upstate, at Syracuse. Having just transferred in, I had jack shit to do. Everything blanketed in feet of snow, already. Fuck was I doing there? Didn’t know anybody. Can’t pretend to study experimental physics in the library all day, every day. Why not overload the senses with new stimuli?
So there I was, as high up in the Statue of Liberty as a civilian could go, looking out on the quotidian city. I pretended I could hear the honking, the sirens, smell the stale piss, the cardboard pizza even from Liberty Island. Ensconced in the tourist mindset: thinking of funnel cakes, snowglobes, why is somebody’s hand in my pocket, is this shit on my new designer shoes human or animal… et cetera.
Cries from the masses surrounding. Pointing; gasping; still eating—forever eating. I looked for the source of their distress…. A passenger plane was streaking over Union City, wings wobbling a bit, flying low. Too low. Were they letting some kid fly the jet?
Whoa. Cries turned to panicked yawps. Her fake bonfire suddenly real; waves of heat washed over us as the world itself seemed to sunder—vibrations consuming all. The plane, now over Hoboken, broke south over the Hudson. Legs I had presumed didn’t even exist now moved the Statue of Liberty away from Her island and into Upper New York Bay, audibly swishing Her soon shimmering dress.
Accounts differ on how She made it to The Battery. Some recount Her swimming there, although which stroke is a point of severe contention. I die on the doggie paddle hill, myself. Many say She walked tiptop the water like Jesus showing off on the Sea of Galilee. A few crazies claim She surfed in to save the day, but these kooks are widely dismissed. All agree that She somehow kept Her flame lit, amidst all those waves. I mostly just remember thinking about that plane. And wondering what the fuck was going on. Didn’t smell great in there, by that point, either.
She reached shore, climbing up to full height, then bounded north, strutting swiftly along the coast. We just hung on to rails, walls, stairs. The plane had gained height by the time it reached the airspace above Rockefeller Park. Was it going to be a race? Where was the finish line? Would She pluck the plane out from the sky?
Oh no. Bonfire’s growth. Her flames shot out from Her torch—a flamethrower—and vaporized the menacing plane just as it leveled out, still below the skyline’s embrace. Chaff, I think is the word; that’s all that remained, really.
There were more planes, in New York and DC. They probably wouldn’t have kept to their plots, had they heard what had happened to their little friends. As it was, even more heroics, yet more patriotic fervor was set to boil. But I had been let out of Her, by then. Was trying to sleep on a friend’s couch. The suits wouldn’t find me for a while. People were celebrating, though. More sirens than usual. Fireworks produced from somewhere were everywhere, then.
Celebrating? I was dead to the world. And there were already casualties in this war of terror.
We still live in fear, however. Much like you, I’m sure. Too sure, most everyone says.
Yes, our Statue of Liberty can stop most of the cinematic stuff. They have proved They aren’t too interested in helping us. And terrorists always adapt. Tens of dirty bombs loaded in personal jets then detonated over the Midwest, salting swaths of farmland, creating food riots along the coasts. Simultaneous robberies of all major banks paired with mayoral assassinations in cities as small as San Marcos, GRoT, and Bellingham, WA. Enacted in tandem, clockwork personified—mass shootings at strip malls and clubs across Colorado Springs’ catatonic sprawl.
Need I go on?
Luke Dylan Ramsey is a poet, fiction writer, screenwriter, visual artist, and academic who lives and works in Central Texas.