By D. K. McCutchen

I was dancing in the Land of the Long White Cloud. Just dancing. The Otago Zoology Department dress code seemed to be dowdy nightgowns and frayed tweed. My eye was on the one other outsider stomping out a Haka in black motorcycle leathers (dear reader, I married him).  An almost-friend burst into the hall, pale with news, and bee-lined straight to me. “Simon fell off the cliff at Taiaroa Head.” I stared, speechless. “Banding Albatross. He chased one downhill in the dark.” And fell 100 meters down into black waves, headlamp still burning — like my ears while I listened; but not closely enough. Albatross — planet gliders — with a four-meter wingspan, who might hope to catch one? “You never listen,” Simon said, two weeks and a new girlfriend later. She’d been there for him. “You’re a bad friend.” Mr. Motorcycle Leathers had broad, gallows shoulders built to endure tears. When the chanting of the Haka finished, he listened to the echoes reverberating far out past the cliffs, like soaring birds calling out “no, no” at dusk. Years away from the hall of dancers, he remembers the plunge from the cliff, and the updraft that carried him half a world away from home.

"flashmemoirdkmccutchen"D. K. McCutchen’s publications include THE WHALE ROAD, a Kiriyama Prize Notable Book & Pushcart nominee, writings in Fourth Genre, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Rosebud, Identity Theory, Fish Publishing anthologies, The Mossy Skull, Small Beer Press, etc. In a literary attempt to save the world, she’s working on a slipstream series.


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