Jeffery Wingworth sat spaced-out in the kitchen of his Reno apartment, staring at the countertop with a lukewarm beer in his hand.
He picked up his eyes slowly and gazed at nothing in particular. The quaint and humble dwelling usually glowed with the smiles of his family, but tonight shadows lay across the faces of the Wingworths. His wife glanced back for half a second before returning to sweeping up a broken plate from the floor.
Mr. Wingworth’s gaze fell back again to the fragments on the floor and the subtle dent in the linoleum left by the impact of the small platter.
“I know… I know. I’ll go try to talk to him.” He replied to his wife’s soundless communication.
And with that Mr. Wingworth picked himself up and made his way down the darkened hallway of his home. He stopped for a moment at a door and wiped a thin film of sweat of his brow. The posters regularly adorning his 5 year old son Sam’s door were gone; forcibly ripped off by tiny fists. Mr. Wingworth gave a shallow inhale and entered.
“Hey buddy, I just wanted to…”
Mr. Wingworth froze for half a second. The room was surprisingly clean. All of Sam’s toys had been neatly put away in his chest, save for a small toy airplane that lay in two cleanly broken pieces on the floor. Sam lay on his bed facing towards the wall.
“…Just wanted to see how you were doing. Why did you break the plate, buddy?”
Sam snapped his neck around and sat up like an angry jack-in-the-box, his eye’s red from crying but steady and cold.
“You shut the fuck up. I will be asking the questions here.”
“Sam. That’s no way to talk to your father, and this is no way to behave. Now, I know you’re upset bu-”
“Planes can crash? They crash? How could you have not told me?”
Mr. Wingworth paused, shocked at the way his son spoke. “How… How did you learn to talk like that?”
Sam turned his head away. “I don’t know. I guess I learned a lot of things today.”
“I’m sorry son. I thought you were happy and content with just thinking that they would stay in the air. You loved your planes. You don’t have to put them away forever.” Mr. Wingworth stared over at the toy chest somberly.
“Don’t I?” Sam replied.
“No, the Titanic sunk and people still ride boats.”
“Boats SINK? I suppose next you’ll tell me that you and mom will eventually die.”
Mr. Wingworth realized his mistake far to late, clenched his fists, and made a mental note that he might as well shove half that toy plane right up his asshole.
Sam’s face turned from cold, angry stone to one of sadness. “What happened to the Titanic?”
“It was a big, beautiful boat filled with people and it hit an iceberg.”
“Probably wasn’t the iceberg’s fault then.”
“No. There were a lot of miscommunications and unfortunate events surrounding the incident.”
“Just like that goddamn pilot couldn’t communicate to his goddamn hands to fly the goddamn plane straight.”
“Maybe it was just and accident.” Mr. Wingworth sighed. “Hey, why don’t we get your planes back out? Your planes don’t have to crash. They can do whatever you want.” He tried to give a weak smile, but only succeeded in twitching a great deal before giving up the attempt.
Sam’s face hardened again and he stared his father dead in his eyes. “Every time I touch them, all I hear is screams and all I see is smoke and all I feel is the impact.” Sam’s voice quivered for a moment. “So yeah, let’s just hunker down and play a nice old fashioned game of meaningless tragedy. You can be the innocent bystanders and I’ll be the dickhead pilot. Close your eyes, count to ten, and then I’ll run up and sucker punch your testicles. How does that sound?”
“Look, it wasn’t my fault! How could I have known?” Mr. Wingworth said roughly.
Sam backed off. “I know. I’m sorry. I just need some time to get my thoughts in order. I’m sorry I broke the plate, too.”
“It’s ok. I’m sorry too. For yelling and everything.” Mr. Wingworth said quietly. “I’ll leave you to your thoughts then.”
He got up and went to the door, but stopped in the doorway.
“But seriously, how did you all of a sudden get so articulate?” Mr. Wingworth asked.
“I’m just a collection of other’s perceptions. Do I have to conform to reason? Reality is subjective.” He replied.
“Sometimes things just happen. Sometimes there isn’t any outside force involved except chance.”
“Is there really and alternative? Can we know anything else?”
Mr. Wingworth gave a confused look. “So we’re all just characters in some fucked up sadist’s badly written tragedy? Do you blame him for the crash?”
“I don’t know. I said I needed time to think.” Sam said, his eyes downcast.
Mr. Wingworth shook his head. “But wait, that also brings to the table the concept of free will. Am I choosing to say what I say right now? Was the crash always meant to happen? What powers control these things? What’s the point?”
Sam shrugged and lay back down.
“I guess neither of us is getting any sleep tonight.”