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The Appalachia Issue

Air Combat

I'm still in school. I'm 18 years old. I don't know what I want to do when I'm older.
Κείμενο Erik Sundström

’m still in school. I’m 18 years old. I don’t know what I want to do when I’m older. A few years back, I absolutely didn’t want to work in the mine. I thought I wanted something better. But I’m not sure anymore. If it was still there I might feel differently about it. Us kids were never up there playing or nothing. A person died up there when we were small, and that scared us off. He’d been welding or whatever and then something came off and he was split in half. I was down by the road when the ambulance came. What I really like is doing Air Combat. They’re model airplanes from World War II in scale 1:12 and we fly them seven at a time. There’s a strip of paper hanging from the tail of every plane, then there’s sandpaper on the wings. You’re supposed to use it to cut the paper from all the other planes. Last one with paper on his plane wins. We all wear helmets when we fly the planes. Since we’re all trying to get as close to each other as possible, crashes are common. I’ve never seen anyone have plane parts drop on their head, but if it happened I’m sure it would be serious. This August I went south to compete in the world championships and I came in eighth. When I was down there I met someone from Skåne who asked me if I’d been riding snow scooter lately. “Sure,” I said, “I took a spin yesterday.” It was meant as a joke, because it was such a stupid question. But the next day a girl came up to me and said, “I heard you took the scooter for a spin yesterday.” I folded over from laughing so hard. I mean, we had stopped driving the scooters several months back. But actually, sometimes when the summer comes we can keep riding on the lake. As long as you keep giving it plenty of gas you don’t sink, but if you slow down you might get water on the belt and then it starts slipping. Then you sink. I suppose that’s the challenge, to see how far and slow you can drive without sinking. We sunk a scooter in the deep end last summer, but all we had to do was tow it back up. As long as you empty the gas and the oil and let it dry out there’s no problem. During Easter, the place is crowded with Norwegians. I don’t think I’m supposed to say this, but I almost feel like there are a few too many Norwegians sometimes. We were at the bar last Easter and someone yelled, “Go away, fucking Swedes!” I thought that was a bit rich, when they’re visiting Sweden and all. ERIK SUNDSTRÖM