Hold out both arms as wide as you can, like you did when you were a child and thought that just by running fast enough, you’d be able to take off and fly. Hold them until your chest aches with the effort and you don’t know if you can hold on any longer, any wider. Count each breath that struggles in and out of your lungs and don’t look down.
Don’t look down.
Sometimes you think if you closed your eyes before you let yourself tumble forward, maybe you would fly: you would fall forever without hitting the ground, and that’s close enough to count. There’s no running for it, there’s just tipping yourself into the freefall and never opening your eyes. It’s only when you open your eyes that the ground rushes up to greet you, and there’s broken bones and broken skin and broken dreams there. The ground is what holds all the problems of the world, and if you could only escape that, you think you could be fine. Breathe, because breathing is important.
Never open your eyes.
It’s been a long time, caught somewhere you don’t really belong, a place you don’t really fit in. You moved six months ago and things aren’t better yet. They should be. Your parents made concerned faces and frowned at how you still hold yourself like a wounded animal, stiff-limbed and awkward around the others in your classes. They say, Have you made any friends yet? and you just let silence stretch out as your answer. This isn’t where you’re supposed to be, and you know that you can’t find it as long as you’re stuck here. You can’t see the end of the tunnel, so you don’t know if you can believe that it’s coming.
I’m going to get out of here, you say, but there’s no one who answers you. Hold your arms open, look at the sky. There is emptiness in it that echoes you: there aren’t even clouds today.
When did you find the cliff? You’re not sure, but you were walking and suddenly you were there, staring down at the town that is now your family lives. Your staying-place. Your not-home. The old place wasn’t really home either, but it had the edges worn down through blunt familiarity, the same faces and the same people. Nothing was sharp enough to cut you there, whereas here, you don’t know yet where all the corners are.
They’re sharp enough to make you bleed.
There is wind here and it is in your hair. You tip your head back and you open your arms. It’s not unlike embracing the entirety of the sky, like you could fold it into yourself, and with its emptiness fill your own. Two negatives into a positive, like in math.
If you breathe in, the air tastes like cold water. Sometimes when you were little, you thought you could sip the entire sky like a glass, and each cloud was a piece of ice that sometimes slipped past your lips and lingered on your tongue. If you breathed in enough, if you drank enough, maybe you’d also become light. Maybe you could also fly away, maybe if you held your arms open and tipped yourself forward, if you let yourself fall with your eyes closed, you’d be all right. There was enough lightness in you to carry you away. You could drift on the next breeze to a different staying-place, and maybe eventually you’d find somewhere that felt right. Maybe you’d find a place that has just enough space to fit you, awkward and angled and a little strange, just for you.
You’re so tired. You’re so tired.
Take in a deep breath and hold it, and count your heartbeats. The moment won’t pass, but it’ll dull, and eventually you’ll be able to move again.
One more time.