Sunday, October 4, 2009

Daily Story 172: Terra Firma

I can see the city flashing past below me, a spiderweb of lights that are barely distinguishable as windows and streetlamps and cars. The wind seems to cradle me, envelop me, and it slides under me like fresh snow under a sled. Dark shapes flicker past; trees and telephone lines in the night. I curve effortlessly along the glasslike surface of a river, pale moonlight reflecting silver back up at me. Lower and lower, until the water is speeding by only a few inches from my face and I can see a distorted image of myself in it. I look happy.

When I'm flying, there's no divorce hearing. There are no layoffs. No deadlines. There is only the wind, lifting me over the world and showing me how beautiful everything is from a distance. How long has it been since my feet touched the ground? It seems like so long, like my whole life has been spent gliding through the air. It doesn't matter, I could go on forever. I bank over a bridge and follow the road north, overtaking cars that are only visible as lights on the black landscape. In the distance I can see the state fair, ferris wheel glowing orange over the town. I can already smell popcorn and hot dogs as I head towards it.

Suddenly the world flares white as if the sky has ignited - the wind vanishes from around me and I feel heavy. Something horrible is happening. Someone is talking to me, yelling, and slowly my eyes adjust to the familiar sights of the lab. Computers hum around me, and the light dims to a sickly fluorescent glow. My boss is upset, he's asking how long I've been playing in the simulator instead of working. I understand the words but somehow it doesn't make sense, like something mumbled during a fever dream. I shove him out of the way and stumble past, legs weak and shaking. When did I last eat? Have I been sleeping in the lab? Have I been sleeping at all?

I need to clear my head. I need to get my bearings, straighten out my life and figure out what's wrong with me. The steps seem to go on forever, floor after floor, and my thighs are aching by the time I reach the roof. The air is icy and seems to cut straight down to my bones - I long to feel it curve around me like before. Everything felt right before. I can explain things to my boss tomorrow, set up that meeting with the lawyer tomorrow, eat and shower and take care of myself tomorrow. For now I need to relax, and go home, and get some sleep. I dimly remember that my car has broken again, but that's not a concern. Smiling, I step off of the roof.