writing chapter 1.3
Posted by jeanne
They were flying. Sort of.
They were hovering – well, slipping slowly down until their feet scraped the roof. And then they were standing there, looking at each other.
“We can fly?” she asked?
He started jumping again. “Think happy thoughts.”
But nothing happened, no matter what they thought. “Maybe we should try another method,” the boy suggested. “Besides happy thoughts.” He looked around the roof, saw the mushoom cap of a vent system. “If we got up onto that and jumped off…”
The girl walked over to the edge of the building and looked down at the happy Dragoncon partiers wandering the streets. “What are we thinking? We’re hundreds of feet up. We can’t fly, we’ll just kill ourselves.” She shrank back, dizzy, feeling sick from the height.
“Yeah, but this is just a dream,” the boy reminded her. “We’re not really awake, we’re still tripping.”
She looked at the time on her phone as the boy pointed out their sleeping selves, slumped against the retaining wall with empty beer bottles around them. Barely an hour after they left the party downstairs. “Oh. Okay.”
The boy put his arm around her. “Nothing can happen, you’re fine. Relax a little.”
“I don’t know…” But she was already looking around for something better to jump from. The vent cap had no handholds; the steps to the elevator machine room were gated and locked. And there was no way, dream or hallucination or whatever, that she was going to jump off the edge of the roof. “Maybe if we ran along the roof for a bit and then jumped up?” She eyed the flat expanse doubtfully.
The boy pointed at the skylight that ran the length of the roof. Its panes sloped on each side like a gabled roof. “We could run down that.”
The girl laughed at him. “Fall thru the glass and then fall fifty floors? That’s even worse, and you’re still not flying.”
But he pointed out the frame, and the wide masonry footing it rested on. They walked up to the top, and the girl felt much better. The street wasn’t visible from the skylight, the slope was gentle, the roof was wide, and she’d have to be trying really hard to actually fall onto the skylight windows. Everything would be okay.
The boy went first. He spread his arms and ran down the frame, flapping them, thinking happy thoughts. And ended up on his knees in the gravel of the rooftop. The girl watched him. As he ran down the ramp she felt herself using body english, to help him. When he failed to launch, it felt like she’d been hit in the stomach.
She stood at the top of the ramp, thinking happy thoughts. But her stomach felt like concrete, and the happy thoughts fluttered like something fizzy on top of it. Fear and flying don’t mix, she thought. Mixing… She walked down to the roof and sat next to the boy, who was moping about a hole in his jeans. “I’ve got an idea,” she said, kissing the booboo on his knee.
She stood up and did a cartwheel. It felt like her hands were as agile as her feet, like she had arms instead of legs. She did another one, and felt the concrete in her stomach go away. Her insides were lighter, and happy thoughts began to bubble all thru her body. She did a third cartwheel, and it felt like being a kid again, when she had endless strength and energy, and everything was fun.
The girl rose up into the air doing her fourth cartwheel, and continued tumbling down the length of the roof, never touching.
The boy got up and ran after her, laughing and leaping, telling her how funny she looked, and he rose off the roof himself. “Wow, this is so cool,” he kept saying.
They gradually figured out how to control their movements. They did a bunch of touch and go landings on the roof, flapping their arms and jumping up, then swimming thru the air with arms and legs. “This is the shit,” the boy said, and he crossed over the edge of the parapet and kept going.
“Don’t look down,” she advised, still flying back and forth over the roof, but the boy didn’t hear her.
“I wish somebody would look up,” he said, staring down at the street. “I wish someone was out on their balcony to see this.”
“I’ll take a picture,” the girl offered, and the boy posed as superman while she grabbed her phone and took a shot.
He landed next to her on the roof. “Let’s do something fun,” he said.
“Like what?” She looked at their bodies, and went over to twitch her sleeping self’s shirt into a more attractive drape around her waist.
“How about straight on ’til morning?”
They turned and looked at the graffiti. She walked over and peered down over the edge of the building. “You’re sure we’re asleep…”
“We’re either asleep or tripping, or both. What harm can come to us? Have you ever died in a dream?”
“Well, as a matter of fact, I have.”
“I went into another dream,” she said. “Okay, fine.”
So they counted down, and raced each other down the length of the rooftop, thinking happy thoughts. And then the lightness and bubbly feeling in their stomachs, and then they were pushing off with their feet and swimming into the air, and then they were sailing over the parapet and flying into the night.