Ack-Ack

by Pierce Nahigyan

We went down over the big Pacific, Harvey and me. That’s the way they teach it to you in school, the big Pacific. It’s bigger than the other oceans, squat in the middle of the map, like a chunk of Earth was meant to fit between America and Japan (there’s a thought for you). But there ain’t any land there. There was no land under us when the Japanese ack-ack tore up the manifold right under Harvey’s feet. He stayed strapped into his chair but I knew he was dead the second we took the hit. That didn’t stop me from cursing at him to wake up, or try to fly my bird without her wings. And the Pacific got real big then. It got bigger and wider, and bluer. It’s all just one big ocean, really. I remember thinking that when we hit.

Maybe I lost consciousness for a second, but then I remember cutting myself out of my harness and trying – stupidly trying – to get Harvey out of his. We were sinking and I thought, if he goes down how am I ever going to find him in this big blue thing? But I saw the light vanishing above me, and I couldn’t pull him out of the chair.

I came to find only hours later that my wrist was broken. The shock had dulled all the pain in me; a lot of the sense, too. It wasn’t until I was wet and freezing and drifting in the swells that I got a handle on all the broken pieces barely keeping me together.

If you could point to a map, at that exact moment, I must have been smack dab in the middle of the world’s one ocean. That’s a lonelier place than I’ve ever been. It wasn’t what Harvey deserved, and I stayed mad about that for years. Really. it didn’t matter to me that Japan wanted their own piece of the world, and you couldn’t tell me them soldiers as signed up to be Hitler’s boys were any better than they should have been. Smack dab in the middle of the Pacific, I was tired, I was scared, I was mad. I had to save one and let the others die, or I’d be next. So I kept the one that kept me alive.