Last Step to the Sky

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June 15, 2012 by The Citron Review

by Rose Engelfried

 

In 4.03 seconds I will tell you how to fly.

You take the first step. The world opens beneath you. The wind slaps your face and burns your ears. This is what you’ve dreamed about you think and This is freedom you think and then you think How did I get here? But by then it’s too late. There’s no ground anymore. Your fingers reach. You only touch wind.

Flying is the sun on your face like hot metal. Light plays hard in your eyes. Your shadow skims beneath you where the bay glints rust-gold and it’s smaller than the palm of your hand. You think about the glasses you took off, the shoes you wish you’d left behind, the dishes you left in the sink and her book of Shelley’s poems on your nightstand. You think of Ozymandias. Pigeons spin above you. You close your eyes and your lids shine red.

You remember the dragon fruit at the Asian market that morning, its sour-sweet melt on your tongue. How the man handed it to you and smiled and you couldn’t understand his accent, but his eyes said almost enough. You remember throwing the husk, how it fell and fell. How the cars rushed past behind you. How you never saw the red husk hit the water down below.

Flying is breath on your lips after one last kiss when you know you’re too late and it’s over. The wind keens and it’s her voice, her laughter, that tiny gasp she’d make between words when there was just so much to say. Flying is the sky and you can’t look down. Flying is only now. The air will hold you up because you can’t change your mind. It’s 4.01 seconds and you already walked away.

She used to buy you dragon fruit. She’d put the pieces on your tongue. Your shadow holds out its hands and rushes to meet you.

 

Rose Engelfried ‘s story “Garlic and Onions” has appeared in Garbanzo. Her essay “On Vultures” has also appeared in Pacific University’s Literature by Undergraduates Magazine, PLUM. She has a B.A. in Creative Writing from Pacific University.

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IMAGE CREDIT: Jill Katherine Chmelko. Protest Road, Winter. 2019.

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