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Drones by Ulrica Hume

On the day of my mother’s funeral, we encounter a swarm of drones. We look up, not down. The dystopian creatures are hovering. Drones are good, you say. They count sandhill cranes, track storms. They can even deliver pizza.

Casket. Inside: a flower-print dress. And over that, a blue London Fog raincoat. Safety pins holding a swath of sky together.

In the future a profit will be promised where birds once flew. Birds. An entire industry devoted to sky pollution. Maybe they will just keep flying south? On and on, until they reach the end of the earth—. You promise that won’t happen, ha-ha. Turner’s sky in a museum.

I remember how she used to read me stories. One was about an acorn that fell on Chicken Little’s head, and all the things that could go wrong. Never did she mention drones throwing shade, or empty folding chairs aslant on the green, or those ghostly deer waiting by dream founts.

On cue, I release a pink balloon, which drifts for a while then gets caught in a tree. There it is bobbing in the wind, umbilical, failed—my last daughter’s duty.

Her crooked finger pokes my heart. Have courage, she says. Because the sky is falling.

Hear Ulrica Hume read her piece.

Ulrica Hume is the author of An Uncertain Age, a spiritual mystery novel, and House of Miracles, a collection of stories, one of which was selected by PEN and broadcast on NPR. Her work appears online, in literary journals, and in anthologies. She tweets @uhume.

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