For the Love of Skywriting

Sarah McLachlan

I love you. These words were painted across the sky that morning. I watched that plane twirl and spin with each cursive letter and finish with one neat stroke. Many people across town swooned and gasped over them, but I couldn’t help but laugh. It’s rather funny to me. Those words had a powerful grip on everyone walking past that day. I love you. It rolls off your tongue. I love you. It’s a heavy sentence, it’s a small sentence and it delivers a powerful punch into anyone’s heart. I love you. People mutter it with jealousy and malice, they sing it with joy throughout the day or some just say it with no emotion at all. I love you. It leaves a weird taste in your mouth that reminds me of dirt-cheap chocolate. It’s grainy but it does the job.

I noticed the people walking past me. They spoke about the words in the sky, and it drove them nuts. A trendy twenty-something-year-old took a smiling selfie, another talked to their followers and made a cold-hearted joke. Their smiles were wide and free, yet their eyes spoke the truth. If you observed close enough, you could have seen the tear tracks rolling down their cheeks. Those tears fell down as they looked to the words with hopeful longing and shuffled away from sight. Lonely people, I thought.

Other people walked past next, one rolling his eyes and the other smirking to themselves. Their strides were quick, and their arms swung with gusto each step. Their hair bounced with their walking, and they completely ignored the sentence. Confident people were amazing to me, and it was as though the world sat on their shoulders. They were narcissistic – just like me – and were full of affirmations and self-love. My mouth felt dry as I reached into my bag for my bottle. They loved themselves so much and held pride between their teeth. They thought they were the best things on Earth and wanted to teach everyone of their wisdom. I took a sip of water.

It’s embarrassing to think about.

A mother stood in front of me with her children and watched the words drift by. The kids were amazed how a plane was able to write words and wanted to know how it worked. They asked their poor mother how it operated, who was driving it, if the pilot threw up and if the vomit somehow miraculously landed back in their mouth to force them to swallow, and how the plane could write. Their mother was a patient saint and pointed to the clouds. She said the clouds gather in a special compartment and turn into sky ink. The kids ran after the plane and the mother ran after them. I chuckled. Those small moments will seem meaningless to them, but they were permanent memories to her. Let them be, she thought. I like that.

In the distance, a man sobbed into his sleeve and ran away from the words. Poor soul, someone broke his heart. I never knew what words would comfort someone like that – it was only a sentence – but the pathway crumbled with each step he took. He reminded me of an ugly vase I saw at the art gallery a few months back. It sat in the middle of the exhibit and a flock of people swarmed over to take pictures. They loved it, they said. It was different. It was ugly. I watched as the man turned the corner with an audience that followed closely behind and disappeared.

I held my bottle in my hand and stared at the fading letters. The sun began to set as they disappeared from sight, leaving nothing but the afternoon sky. Someone sat next to me and pulled out their phone, and a thought came to me.

I love you is a powerful sentence. It’s the truth. It connects and dissolves people until they can no longer speak. I saw how it made people kinder, how it shattered hearts, how it made them grow. It’s amazing how this sentence has such an impact, but it’s only three words.

I never had that sentence said to me, so what does it matter?

Sarah McLachlan is an emerging Brisbane writer on her final year in the creative writing major at QUT. Her aim with her work is to add a bit of magic into the reader’s day. You can find her work throughout ScratchThat magazine.

Anastasia Notaras is an emerging artist based in Brisbane. She is currently in her third year of BFA in Drama at QUT. Her work has been published in ScratchThat Magazine and can be found on her Instagram @anastasianotaras. Her creative work is multidisciplinary as she delves into painting, collage, script writing and performance.