The latest photo from my father: An F-15 from the nearby Air Force base leaves its mark across both sky and water. I grew up in this area. On one side of the river — teepee rings lingered from the 1800s, and on the other side, fighter jets experimented with sonic booms in the 1960s.
When something moves through something else — a boat through water, a jet through air — waves are created. If the speed and power of something gets to be so fast and strong, the waves created by said passage start to pile up against one another. It gets to where they can’t get out of the way of one another. That’s when the sonic booms.
Across the kitchen table, my daughter was working on lesson plans for her first grade students at a school designed for kids with emotional and social issues. We can, at times, act like an old married couple where when one says Are there any more plums left in the fridge?, the other might reply, I forgot to tell you the neighbors brought us a pumpkin.
I told her about the lastest photo from her grandfather and what I was learning when I googled sonic boom. She talked about math centers, parent permission slips, and a locket found on the playground. What did I suppose was inside the locket? she asked.
Perhaps what was inside the locket would help locate its owner. Maybe it was a photo of the little girl once found miles away from home at the fishing bridge, at 3 AM. Maybe it was the girl who often sits on a neighbor’s doorstep at night, waiting for someone to let her in. Maybe, my daughter thought, it belonged to one of the students who wears a whistle on her backpack.
Whistle on a backpack? Yes, for in case her father shows up again — she and her brothers are instructed to grab their whistles and blow as loud and long as they can. A photo of him is taped inside each teacher’s desk drawer. Just in case he storms in.
I put aside my Mach 1 research, closing up my laptop with its bookmarked page filled with talk of boom carpets and overpressure profiles. We picked out pretty papers and spread them on top of my laptop, set the locket down. When my daughter opened the locket, I expected to see a photo of a mother, a father, maybe someone’s happy dog – but not this: a dull black pebble, carefully glued inside.
This post has appeared before, but I was asked to reproduce it on this WordPress site.