Sure I read her biography, but it’s not like I wanted to meet her. I hadn’t spent days with my neck craned, trying to imagine a bird’s eye view of the sky. I liked to look at the ground, and imagine gravity, how it held my sneakers and me in place. I liked to picture myself hanging from the planet by a shoelace, one knot caught in a grommet and the rest of me dangling in outer space. But I wasn’t interested in my position in the stars, I just wanted to see that spot on the ground, between the blades of grass, where I remained attached. Flight was not my curiosity. The details of connection, my shoelace an umbilical cord, was. What stitched me to the dirt? Why did I sleep in my bed? Why did my parents love me even if I said I hated them?

But I didn’t announce these puzzles. Shush! is the tone I took, tiptoeing out the sliding glass door and into long walks in the fields around my house. We live near the old airport, so after school – eighth grade is a cinch and I can finish my homework in homeroom – I walk and walk, long grasses hitting my knees and thighs. I can’t see my feet. I guess this is why I think I might almost fall off the face of the earth.

The day Amelia Earhart found me, I was walking. A man grabbed my hand. I chose not to feel scared, because this man, grabbing me was the exact kind of thing my parents were afraid would happen if I walked alone. I wasn’t about to be a victim of their suspicions, so I just forced any fear I felt to sit, like a dog. Sit.

The man led me to a ragged building that felt more like a radio station than an air control tower. The vanished aviatrix sat at a table, smoking. She wore a black leather jacket, and her leather skullcap was on the table beside a bottle of whiskey. She sipped amber liquid from a juice glass.

“Gin rummy?” she said after the man pulled out a folding chair and indicated I should sit. I nodded. What was I going to say, no?

We played a few rounds. She won. When she got bored of winning, she taught me another game. While it seemed complicated, a series of searches for different colors and patterns that crossed suits, she insisted it was easy.

“It’s simple,” she said. “Just like flying a plane.”

Oh yeah, I wanted to say, like you never crashed. Yet she was in charge, holding me like the hand of gravity. So I kept my mouth shut.

I kept losing.

“Okay, okay,” she said. “I admit it. Flying is not easy.”

Amelia Earhart pushed away from the table and took her glass to the wall of windows. The windows were filthy, but you could still see the shape of the horizon. Grasses went on forever, as if my house and a million others like it weren’t there. As if my school and the supermarket and the mall were nowhere on earth.

“Come with me,” she said, and I followed her weavy walk, ready to catch her when she fell. Guards stood by the doorway, but with one glance from her they stopped looking ready to mangle me. Amelia drained her glass and handed it to the man who had brought me to her.

“Come with me,” she said, and I obeyed. Her hair was red and wavy, and the air around us grew hazy and uncertain as we left the stale stillness of the building. The grasses waved at her, like friends. I followed her, a few paces behind, and suddenly, we were in the dunes, dunes I’d never seen. Drifts of soft grit blew out over the old airstrip.

“Stay here, stay on the edge,” she said. “Watch me walk away.”

The guards were still behind me. I wasn’t going to invite their attention. The woman kept walking, and looking back, to make sure I was watching. I was the knot of a shoelace and she was dangling on my gravity. Finally I almost couldn’t see her, but I caught her winking at me before she disappeared.

I grew hungry. The guards ignored me, and the landscape drifted back to what I knew. Sand settled down, grass grew where it belonged. I walked home. In the kitchen, I put peanut butter on graham crackers. I poured myself a glass of milk.

My parents would be home soon, tired from their days. They were tired of me, and I of them. I could have followed her into the dunes, gone somewhere, anywhere. She had gravity. Life at home, well, was I even living? I felt static. Like an unread book. Like a cottonball in a bag. And yet, someone had come for me. For me.

“You’ll never believe who found me today!” I practiced, and I swallowed my words with a gulp of milk, wondering when I should switch to whiskey.