On my Facebook page a few days ago, I shared about Morgan Truly, the main character of Just Desserts, and her magical ability to infuse her feelings into anything she bakes. I invited people to share about the magical powers they’ve always wished they had, and a few shared their idea of a cool superhuman ability.
One super power someone suggested was the power to fly, and it inspired me to write a short story about it. Little known fact, did you know not everyone has flying dreams? You do if that’s you! In fact, only a small percent of people have ever dreamed about flying.
At any rate, here’s the short story. Enjoy!
I woke from one of those flying dreams again this morning. It was the kind of dream where you don’t want to open your eyes right away because you want to live in the fantasy a little longer. I kept my eyes closed, replaying the parts of my dream I remembered—the wind rushing past me, the thrill of my stomach dropping with each rise in the current, seeing the tops of trees as I rushed past, and nosediving through the trees so I could skim above the flowing river.
My need for coffee eventually won out, and I could smell the cup waiting for me on the nightstand. Grateful for my thoughtful early-rising husband, I opened my heavy eyelids, expecting to see the side of my wooden nightstand, only to find it gone. I took a quick breath in, facing a white wall where my nightstand was supposed to be.
Wait. If my nightstand wasn’t there, then where was my coffee?
I looked around, panic setting in when I finally saw my coffee below me. My bed below me. The floor further away than it was supposed to be.
I crashed back in the bed, hitting my coffee cup on the way back down. The hot liquid flew across the laundry covering my side of the room, adding deep brown stains to the clothes I wore yesterday. I caught my breath as I heard Shawn barreling up the stairs.
“What is it? What’s the matter?”
I couldn’t say anything at first, my heartbeat contracting my veins like peas squeezed through a pod. Shawn rushed to my side of the bed, stepping over the stained laundry to clutch my shoulders.
“Are you okay? What happened?”
I took a few deep breaths, my heart rate eventually returning to normal as I relaxed my shoulders and leaned into Shawn’s embrace.
“I guess I had a bad dream,” I said when I could finally speak. In the few seconds it took to get my bearings, I realized I couldn’t tell him what just happened. What would I say? Would he think I was a freak? I was having a hard enough time trying to figure out what just happened; I had no idea how I’d explain it to him.
“Do you want to talk about it?” He smoothed my hair against my back as he held me close. I let him comfort me a few more moments before I finally pushed away, offering him a shaky smile.
“I’ve already forgotten what it was about. I just woke up with a start.” I looked down at the brown stains all over my clothes. “Dang, that coffee smelled good, too.” I hid my trembling hands under the covers.
“I’ll get you another cup while you clean it up,” he offered, kissing me on the forehead before leaving the room.
It was Saturday, and Shawn’s turn to go grocery shopping. I waited until I heard his car leave the driveway before I whipped off the covers and stood next to the bed on unsteady legs.
“Up,” I commanded, not surprised when nothing happened. My mind was playing tricks on me; I’d probably still been dreaming when I thought I woke up. I found a pair of jeans underneath the pile of clothes, protected from my spilled coffee. I slipped those on, along with the cleanest t-shirt I could find. Then I stuffed the laundry basket full, my empty stomach turning at the smell of old coffee. I really hoped those stains would come out. I balanced the basket so I could open the door, and my cat took the opportunity to streak into the room.
“Nice, Cleo.” I reached the stairs, but she must have changed her mind because she was under my foot as soon as I stepped down. The basket went flying, and so did I. Literally. I watched the clothes spill from the basket all over the stairs as I hovered in the air without any effort at all.
“No way. This isn’t happening.” I put my hands above me, hitting drywall. On a normal day, my 5’3” frame had no chance of touching the sloped ceiling in the stairwell. But now, I thought about moving higher and my body obeyed until I was pressed flush against the tall surface. Then I pushed off, coasting around the switchback stairs as I flew into the kitchen, leaving my laundry behind. Landing on the floor was as simple as thinking about the motion, though I gripped the counters as soon as my feet hit the floor, my cheeks aching from my wide grin.
I could fly!
The house didn’t give me much space to try out this apparent new super power I’d developed overnight, so I headed out to our back deck. The neighbor kids next door were jumping on their trampoline, the sound of squeaky springs piercing the morning through our shared fence. I could hear my other neighbor singing a Joni Mitchell song softly to herself, probably taking advantage of the nice weather to work in her garden. In the distance were sounds of shouts and laughter, likely from the nearby sports field. All of this, plus the birds singing in the trees that surrounded my yard. I looked up, the breathless feeling of flying starting in my feet as I hovered slightly above the deck, and radiating all the way to the top of my head. I was no longer afraid, though my heart still raced from excitement and the possibility I might be seen if I did what my body was urging me to do.
“Here goes nothing,” I whispered, closing my eyes as if it might make me invisible. When I opened them again I was high above the house, the squeaky trampoline still whining below me as if nothing was amiss.
Since this was my first time flying, I decided to start out close to home. It wasn’t like I’d get lost, but things looked a lot different from up in the air. Plus, what happened if this was just a temporary thing? Sure, I’d get bloodied up no matter where I fell, but I’d rather be close to home instead of some remote hilltop.
That said, I soon realized how dangerous it was to stick around my neighborhood. The popular trails near our home were lightly populated with morning joggers and cyclists, getting their exercise in before the summer heat of the afternoon. All it would take was for one of them to look up. What would happen if someone saw me flying above them? Would they call the cops? Call the press? Shoot me down?
This was dangerous, no matter what. It was time to take risks.
I looked up and the rest of me followed, ascending higher into the sky as a way to become invisible to anyone on the ground. The air rushed past me, growing colder the higher I went. My chill-slapped arms reddened with the cold and glistened with ice crystals. My teeth chattered behind a closed-mouth grin. My lungs felt like they were getting smaller in my chest as I rose through the air, and I fought the urge to cough. My ears ached in the wind, the pressure intensifying until they cleared out with a satisfying pop. I recalled all the times I’d been in an airplane, the pressure in my clogged sinuses intense, even though the cabin pressure was controlled. Here in the open air, rising as high as an airplane, I found it interesting that I felt mild discomfort instead of hypothermia or an exploding pressurized head.
Once I figured I was at a safe distance, I leveled out and took in the scenery. Wisps of clouds surrounded me, casting a film over the earth below so that it appeared muted in color. Mountains in the distance were well below me, appearing like molehills bordering tinker toy towns. The wind rushed past my ears like a train in a tunnel, then moved on to carry nearby birds who were brave enough to fly at this height. How I was this brave, I didn’t know. What I did know was that for the first time in my life I felt fully alive, as if the person I was before this day had just been a faded shadow nearing twilight.
I practiced rising and diving in the clouds, plummeting through the white billows and leaving holes in my wake. I spun tight circles, and then lazy pirouettes in broad arcs, my arms wide like a cross as I dipped and soared across the horizon, no longer caring if I knew where I was or where I was going. I was in the great expanse, the wide open sky, with no barriers or boundaries to cage me in. There were no rules up here; there was just me.
And planes. I’d heard the soft rumble of the engines, but didn’t think anything of it until I narrowly dodged the gray machine that tore through a cloud and shot towards me. I plunged to the earth, spinning out of control until I managed to escape the fall, coasting through the air once again. Still, it shook me enough that I figured I could find someplace else to fly where I wouldn’t be seen, and where air traffic wouldn’t run me over.
I stuck closer to the ground, drifting over the golden wheat of vacant fields and inhaling the mossy scent of trees and dirt in thick, desolate forests. The sun was high, the pinkish hints of a sunburn on my arms as I flew over large country properties, but I didn’t think to go home until a flock of crows came at me, swooping to chase me off.
I was thoroughly lost at this point, having traveled further than I ever had outside of a car or plane. Once I shook off the crows, I found a safe perch in a tall tree. I clung to the trunk with one hand as I balanced on the branch, and fished my phone out of my pocket with the other. Seven missed calls, all from Shawn. I listened to the messages, guilt creeping over me as they moved from casual to worried, and finally to angry.
“What the hell is going on, Crissi? It’s not like I can’t track your phone. What the hell are you doing in Barstow, and how did you get there so fast? If you don’t call me in the next few minutes, I’m calling the cops.”
I immediately touched his name on the screen, then put my ear to the phone.
“The cops are on their way,” he barked when he answered.
“Call them off,” I said. “Seriously, I’m fine.”
“Oh, that’s good. You’re fine. Well, guess what? I’ve been sitting here thinking everything from you leaving me for someone else to you getting kidnapped. So you might be fine, but I’m about to lose my shit.”
I looked around. From this high up, I could see birds flying in and out of the branches of a neighboring tree. The air smelled sweet, tinged with the scent of pine. The breeze cooled the sun’s rays on my back, and my hair swirled around me.
“Crissi, when are you coming home?”
I smiled, taking a deep breath as I memorized the view, the trees, and the birds, feeling a part of it all.
“Right now,” I said. “And I have so much to tell you.”