Thursday 17 June 2021

The Helicopter Pilot Who Decided to Preach to Us about God on Our Tour of the Grand Canyon


by Melissa Llanes Brownlee

Nitro Cold Brew


‘You know that this was caused by the great flood, right?’ The helicopter pilot informs us as we dip below the rim of the canyon, my heart dropping as we seem to almost kiss the green expanse of the Colorado. My husband replies with oh really, and I hadn’t known that, and it makes sense, his hand gripping mine tight. ‘Yeah, it’s a constant reminder of God’s wrath.’ I want to laugh, but I don’t. I breathe deeply, away from the headset mic, and concentrate on the truth passing before my eyes, the bands of colors, telling stories of epochs, life and destruction and life again, before mammals even existed. My husband politely grunts and the pilot takes it as agreement. ‘Yeah, the earth is only about six thousand years old, you know.’ I look at my husband, his eyes as wide as mine, and in that moment, we decide to stay quiet until we land in Vegas. ‘God made all of those fossils and put them in the ground for us to know his power.’ I try to focus on the vibration of the engine and not the rotors slamming into the side of the canyon. ‘I love this job. I get to see the wonder of God every day. It’s the best church.’ I close my eyes, and I start to pray.


About the author 

Melissa Llanes Brownlee (she/her), a native Hawaiian writer, living in Japan, has fiction in Bending Genres, The Lumiere Review, Micro Podcast, (mac)ro(mic), 3Elements, The Cabinet of Heed, Bright Flash, Sledgehammer and elsewhere. She was selected for Best Small Fictions 2021. She tweets @lumchanmfa and talks story at

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