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The Contrail

Tuesday, August 17  Evening.

Today I was driving to the laundromat to wash clothes for the kids and I saw a white contrail in the sky. It went up with two visible lanes and it bent a little to the left. It looked like it was going straight up. I thought it was the trail of a space ship!

As I watched, the tip of the contrail widened and began to glow red. It was spread out at an angle like the edge of a hard painter’s brush tipped in the red of the sunset. The rest of the trail was blinding white. It was just after sundown.

I pulled over on the side of the road to watch it and my heart caught in my throat. I tried to find a way to describe what I felt, but I couldn’t. I felt … an amazing sense of hope and desire. I was inspired…surprised. It was a wonder.

Then as I watched, it resolved itself into an airplane flying toward me at a high angle. I was disappointed. But then I asked myself why. Why did I feel let down? Was not the airplane also a great achievement of mankind?

I watched it until it passed overhead, and then I drove on.

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