Somewhere, Far Away

Eli Yurman

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Somewhere, far away, a little boy is making paper planes. He doesn’t really know why, but he does it, day after day. He sits on the beach with the white sand and he folds. Sometimes, the paper he’s folding has words on it. Sometimes it doesn’t. It doesn’t matter to him –– he can’t read it anyways. He just sits in the sand and makes his planes, one after the other. When it starts to get dark, he stands up and walks away from the water, away from the horizon. Walking up the sand dune is hard, because his legs are so short, but he manages, and every night he crests the hill and disappears from sight just as the sun finishes setting.

He’s always back. Each day the same. He sits on the white sands, watching the clear blue waves lap the shore –– always almost reaching his feet but never quite. He’s very careful –– paper planes and ocean water don’t mix. He just sits there at the water’s edge and folds and folds and folds.

Paper is never a concern for him –– he always has just the right amount for the day. Each piece of paper is its own blank slate, and after exactly 16 minutes each there’s always a little paper plane where there wasn’t one before. He doesn’t use tape or scissors (he thinks that’s cheating), and he doesn’t have a book of patterns. He just folds, sometimes looking at his plane and sometimes looking at the water and sometimes, if he’s in a mood, looking at neither –– just staring out towards the horizon, thinking and folding.

 

Somewhere else, a little less far way, I have my window open. It’s my favorite window –– the one with the nicest view out onto the city, and some days I’ll sit in my chair and just look at the world passing by for hours. The window is always open, and every day, at exactly 16 minutes past the hour, a little plane made of folded paper flies through it and lands in my lap. At first this startled the cat, who, as cats do, believes that my lap is his property and his alone –– but he’s since gotten used to it.

The planes are never the same. Each one is entirely unique –– a different pattern, a different material (still always paper), a different flight pattern. Sometimes the folding is simple, just two or three folds to make rudimentary wings. Sometimes it is not –– complex creases at strange angles that I could not figure out if I tried. The paper is always different as well. Sometimes the planes are colorful, bright sturdy construction paper made to last. Sometimes they are beautiful but fragile –– wrapping paper or tissue paper, never intended for plane-making. Occasionally the planes are made of newspaper; these are my favorite. Some of those planes are made from local papers, and some have headlines written in foreign languages from cities I’ve never heard of. Some have headlines that don’t exist at all, from countries that aren’t found on any map. And some of the planes are made of plain white paper –– simple and modest, yet elegant in their own strange way.

 

There are no beaches near me. There are no sands, white or otherwise, and there are no clear blue waters. I don’t know where the paper planes come from, or how they find their way to my window, but I keep it open nonetheless. When the weather turns cold, I just bundle –– despite the reproving looks from the cat. There are no white sand beaches near me, but there have to be somewhere. I have never seen clear blue waves, but somewhere they exist, lapping at shore near someone else’s feet. These are things I’ve never seen. And although I don’t know why or how, and I’m not even sure he knows why or how, but somewhere, far away, a little boy is making paper planes –– for me.

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