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There are times when something magnificent happens to you, and you can feel it altering not just your day but your whole life. As in: This is the start of the better, happier days. And you realize how lucky you are to have found this path, and you won't ever forget it.

But with the addition of time you've lost the magic. You don't know how, or even when. You can't make anything mean what it did, and taking responsibility doesn't solve the problem. You feel sick, and stupid, and sad, and you sometimes wish you'd never discovered the special secret.

I haven't flown in... God, almost a month. There was only the one time.

I ended up touching down on a fire escape just to see if I could, and I got so overcome by gravity that I had to sit down shaking. Total Air Time: maybe 8, 10 minutes? I couldn't say, shit's different up there. Then I clambered to the street and searched for the subway. At home, face to the pillow, I had bizarre adrenaline fantasies (back in high school, but with a cock ring -- I can't eat that soup, it's the wrong color -- I know every word ever invented, and I'm working on more) and levitation seemed like just one more the next day.

I didn't tell anyone. I bought all the newspapers, which I never do. Jack shit. The Post (which no one with a brain believes anyway) mentioned a resurgence of those dangerous vandals who ride the roofs of train cars. One suspect allegedly "leaped into the air just like Spider-Man." Uh-huh, thank you, that's flattering but idiotic. And that's it. Nothing to show for it.

So I went into work. Because I need the fuckin money.

-------

So here I am at Bryant Park. Midtown Manhattan. Exactly one city block worth of green grass, with square skycrapers on all four sides. It's dusk, and I face west, toward the pink I can glimpse in the cracks between buildings. I hop the rope and stride to the exact center of the lawn. I don't know why this is blocked off. But it's where I need to be.

I kneel, dirt on the cargo pants, and lay my hands on the earth. Close my eyes. Please, brain. Please remember how to do this. I am afraid but I know I can.

Cell phone rings and yuppie chatter. Sirens. It's no use. I can't even remember what to be concentrating on. I stand up and turn around, gazing through the windows of the storehouse of knowledge. There's got to be something in there that can help me. Or maybe not. Maybe I'm in uncharted territory here.

The security guard uses the word "Sir!" the same way I usually do, as a synonym for idiot. There's just one, he's old and fat, and he hasn't crossed the rope yet. I still have about a minute.

And now my mind is racing.

There's this whole planet. This whole huge big round rock. And I've only seen the very top of one little corner.

As a child I wanted to be an astronaut, of course. I used to assume the earth was simply too large to fit in my imagination, because I'd never seen the whole thing from the outside. But now I realize I've never seen the limits of my imagination either. All of those thousands of miles of text in front of me could already be in my head, for all I know, on an invisible spool.

("Sir! Get off the lawn!")

It's impossible not to feel the energy rising around me. Funneled.

There's this whole planet (so so big, but I've got it), and there's me seeing it from the outside at last. But I must also be on it. Well, how do I know? I mean, if one speck out of six billion were to suddenly float away, what difference would it make? You couldn't even tell.

The funny part was, the guy could have brought me down by the ankle if he'd just kept running, but when he saw my feet flip out from under me as I wafted up on my back, he stopped dead. Yeah, that's goin' in your report, fucker. There's no mistaking this one.

Now I'm maybe fifty feet up. Staying that low. Slowly drifting toward the sunset before the stars come out, over traffic now. Beep beep. Maybe I should head a little further up. I don't want to cause an accident. This is tough for me, because my fear of heights is not being assuaged in the slightest. But maybe I don't have to be in denial about the hard dangerous ground. Looking down is okay as long as I'm seeing everything that's there.

-------

Below me, the myriad stories make a maze of cause and effect. That little girl with the popsicle. That athletic dude with the sniffing dogs. All those chugging cars that are just way longer than they need to be; no wonder there's so much traffic here.

Uh-oh. The percentage of folks looking up at me is perhaps a smidge too high. And they are shouting things. That won't help me. Quick:

The lava eats the lichen. The glacier chills the beverage. Last night's drizzle is my sweat dripping off my nose onto that red and yellow hot dog cart umbrella and hey where's the why the FUCK AM I FALLING god no help what's

(close eyes)

The sun is its true size and I'm just an electron. The sun. The sun. Its gravity will hold me up.

I feel the forces of heat and wind support me and I rise again. I need to go up, up now. And out over the river. I'm keeping my eyes closed. I don't want to know how close the pavement was. It's almost dark anyway.

-------

So here I am, floating, not on the water but above it. How high, it's hard to say. There's really no reference points out here between Hoboken and Manhattan. The indigo blanket has finally fully dropped. But anyway, I'd guesstimate three hundred feet, three fifty.

Now I will test this ability, like I would a car, or a stereo system. Unfortunately, it's more like a parachute in practice: I won't get a second chance if it fails. I just want to come down.

See, there's a certain altitude beyond which it doesn't matter what you land on. Pillows or Jell-O, your own bones are still rock hard, and the sudden stop grinds your organs into paste. So the water isn't really helping me out. I just came out here to be alone with my world.

It's maps I'm focusing on. The exact curves and bumps on the coastlines of Florida, Spain, Australia. It's working, but I'm going to have to study when I get home. Okay, lowering self, now. Slowly. Good.

I spread my arms, like flying people are apparently supposed to do, and spiral like a maple seed. The tickling air makes me chuckle for a second. Don't forget Chile and Belize. I'm zooming in on real sandy beaches, not atlas lines. I can't tell which reality I'm smelling. No wait, I can.

Drop like a missile. I do it.

I'm aiming for only half the speed of gravity. Your stomach knows that dreaded lurch and I haven't reached it yet. But this isn't exactly relaxing. Shit, was that a damn bug? Don't be distracted. Madagascar. Norway. Pangaea. Slow, slow, slowwwwwwwwww. Don't hope. Happenize it.

That was so fast. I didn't even have time to think about death.

So now I'm standing, hovering, right above the river. If you saw me from a passing boat you'd think I was standing on the waves. I find that staying still this close to the earth requires tremendous exertion. I'm gritting my teeth, shaking a bit. But I don't need maps anymore, the blinking skyline is doing it for me. I put my right foot forward.

Aw, come on.

Of course it doesn't actually catch on anything. Stupid. I would just be moving two unrelated muscles simultaneously. That will take practice and I'm not willing to waste time on it now when it's just for show.

So technically I can't walk out here. But. You still have to admit it's cooler than converting dihydrogen monoxide into ethanol.




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