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  You could have a big dipper   

Within My Grasp by Stuart Watson

I was tired of griping about all the world’s problems. It was time for me to solve them.

Or some of them.

OK, maybe just one.

I stood in my yard and looked up at the problem. The sky was cross-hatched with contrails. It looked pretty, but it was helping ruin the climate. I knew this because someone told me the trails meant planes were up there polluting.

I looked it up. Planes cause about four percent of global warming. A big chunk from exhaust gas. A bit more from the contrails, which trap heat in the atmosphere. Like fingernail tracks in a blue man’s back.

I decided to hate on contrails. Easy, when they’re a symbol of ungodly summers, melting ice caps, rising sea levels, extinction of small and obscure and scaly creatures with warm eyes.

I saw a contrail, and I saw expanding deserts, mass migration, Californians suddenly groping my garbage for scraps.

If I went to the airport and stood next to a jetliner, it would be huge. In my yard, the jetliner was much smaller passing overhead. How could this be? Same plane, but much smaller.

The solution seemed obvious.

I saw a plane emerge from the hills across the way and move slowly across my sky. It spewed a huge global warming trail. When it was right overhead, I reached up and pinched the plane in my fingers.

When I lowered my arm, I looked between my fingers. It was hefty, a 747. Its contrail was hanging out the back end, like a wedding veil.

One minute, at 35,000 feet. The next minute, down here with me. I was holding it like a grasshopper. I pinched my fingers together and goop smooshed out and chunks of plane fell to the ground.

I held it to my ear. Yep, screaming. Serves them right, for underwriting contrails.

Here came another plane. I reached up and pinched it from the sky.

Pinch. Crunch.

I could feel the world cooling already. I pinched and crunched all day, until the sun went down. When I couldn’t see where the contrails were pointing me, I went inside. As I popped a beer, I laughed to think how I was saving the world, one pinch at a time.


For thirty years, Stuart Watson lined bird cages for a living (he was a newspaper journalist, self-deprecating and sarcastic, in equal measure). He loves the writing, for just one outstanding example, of Joy Williams. Watson’s own work is (or will be) in The Maine Review, Two Hawks Quarterly, Revolution John, Montana Mouthful, Wretched Creations, Flash Boulevard, Bending Genres, Flash Fiction Magazine, Hippocampus (books), Danse Macabre, Red Planet Magazine, Yolk and Wanderlust Journal. He lives in Oregon with his lovely wife and their awesome dog.

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