By Andrew Older
The view is miraculous, even considering the circumstances. Or, perhaps, because of them. I feel inexplicably linked to each strand of sunlight that sparkles up here—it’s almost like a series of stage lights, all of them centered on me. For a moment, I forget why I am here and what I am doing.
The speed grounds me, and the adrenaline, the impetus, the motivation for what I’ve done and what I am doing rushes over me like the chill one gets from the arrival of a sudden, unexpected, and terribly woeful memory. Being here, doing this: it has this uncanny but similar feeling to those leading up to this moment. I open my eyes.
I read somewhere that most people, if given their choice of superpowers, would choose flight. I think it might have something to do with the subtle and unconscious desire to feel everything and nothing simultaneously. To feel the overwhelming amount of energy that comes from being weightless. To feel the inundating nothingness that comes from being free of tethers.
My first instinct, when it was all over, was to laugh. No, it wasn’t funny. But it had all the makings of a proper joke, albeit a sick and cruel one. It’s funny how closely laughter and chaos are tied together in the annals of the mind.
I knew I couldn’t keep it a secret forever. But that was part of the pleasure, I suppose: the perversity of the event was what made it almost delectable. To be forbidden is to be desired.
My hair flows behind me like a cape, and the skirt I picked out for this morning billows around my waist as the speed increases. My eyes are watery and on fire—the objects in my periphery blend and mix into their most base colors until things become infantile and organic.
Bruce walked into the room before anything had even started. He dropped his briefcase and stared. He didn’t seem mad, or angry, or even surprised. No, I think he was confused. Bruce was a logical kind of person, but I think seeing what he saw kind of broke him.
The force of movement is beginning to compress my brain into a kind of mush—I can literally feel myself turning into a liquid.
I never knew Bruce kept a gun in our room. It’s funny, the things you learn about a person the longer you’re together.
I have this vague memory from the really early parts of my childhood of a mustached man leaving my house every few evenings just before my father would come home. I don’t remember anything about this mustached man, except that he smelled strongly like hand sanitizer and cigarettes—also that the mixture of his smells was nauseating. One day, my mother caught me staring and brought me into her room.
“Listen,” she told me, shaking. “I’m not a bad person, okay? Your father—he doesn’t even touch me anymore. We don’t even talk. Please, you can’t tell your father about the man, okay? Honey, can you do that for me?”
I nodded, not really listening because I didn’t understand what was happening.
Bruce was such a good man. We met in a divorce-support group for those who had been at the ‘victim’ end of an adulterous relationship. Funny how some things work out. I don’t know. I guess I could never shake the feeling that I wasn’t capable of love, or rather, of being loved, even with someone like Bruce. Maybe that’s how cycles start.
The air is delicious. I am swallowing mouthfuls of the stuff, and it surges in my chest and threads its way outward, permeating in all directions until I feel like a surge of mint, or a blast of cold water.
Bruce shot the stranger in his bed right between the eyes. Bits of brain lodged themselves in my hair. I sat there, unmoving, watching as Bruce walked over to my side of the bed and sat down. He looked up and stared aimlessly at the wall. “I had so much I needed to tell you,” he said.
For the last time, I close my eyes. I smile. This is what freedom smells like.
“Bruce,” I said, crying. “I am so—” but the words didn’t come out fast enough and he shot himself in the mouth.
Sometimes people do things in dreams that are so reprehensible they seem at odds with the fabric of their character and, upon waking, are relieved. Surely I would never do such a thing in reality, we tell ourselves. God, I hope that’s true. The same way I hope this is all a dream and that five more feet will wake me up.