Thursday, September 23, 2010

Falling

Did I put on a parachute? Do I even have a parachute? This, I think, I don't really want to know. To know the answer is to defeat the purpose of the moment, which is to jump. Jump without knowing, and more importantly, if possible, without caring. I'm holding on to something. I look: it's a metal handle welded to a rib that curves around the fuselage of this airplane. It's strong, utilitarian, useful; the opposite of almost everything else in my life. It's one of the reasons I'm here. To find, and to grasp, something irrefutably solid and immovable, the purpose of which is single-minded: to give steadiness to someone like me when he needs it.

Reminded of the airplane, I become aware of the noise and the vibration. I look up and see an open door. Next to it, a man dressed in a brown jumpsuit and bright red helmet and gloves and goggles. And parachute. He is pointing at me and waving his hand to come forward. I realize I've just woken up from a dream - that I fell asleep while the plane climbed to jumping altitude. And I know I must have a parachute on. My hand slaps down over an oval clamp over my belly button; yes, of course I do. Still, the tiniest part of me wonders, how would I know if I'm awake, really? and I get up and stumble forward toward this young man and I stop next to him - waiting for instruction? - and he motions me on forward, into the mouth of the open door. My hands instinctively reach up on each side and grasp the frame and what do I find? Two more of those fine, reassuring metal handles, sized and placed exactly as needed by someone standing in this door, facing outward, ready to die.

I turn my head to the right to see his face and before I can glimpse his eyes, I feel his hand on my back and a push and the metal handles fail me, or I fail them, and I'm out. Falling.

Have I done this before? I seem to remember doing it, yes, or else I remember dreaming that I did. Then I remember that once, on a cold day drinking juniper tea from an incredibly fragile teacup handed me by a small brown woman with no teeth and a bright red scarf hiding her hideous hair, I wrote a little poem in which I floated like this, and remembered floating like this, and down I floated, wind whipping as if punishing me for something, eyes full of tears despite my goggles and unspoken apologies, arms extended in surrender, glimpsing something like the earth and trees and water and sand turning below me, turning slowly, then quickly, tumbling out of sight finally, and my thought at that moment, my final thought, was, I remember remembering a dream that became a poem that became life that became ....

16 comments:

  1. Very cool story. Love the feeling of this story. Dreamlike, not too dark, but enough of a hint of nightmare to really bring out the fun. Well done!

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  2. I like the poetic feel to this. Even though a nightmare, it's soothing in a way. Good work!

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  3. Eric and theothersideofdeanna, Thanks! Soothing. I like that.

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  4. Love that long, streaming last paragraph, streaming like the wind over his falling body. My fave: I wrote a little poem in which I floated like this, and remembered floating like this, and down I floated
    So real, the way dreams feel, the way they linger.

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  5. This had a surreal quality that was just lovely. Nice work.

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  6. Thanks so much for the comments Cathy and G.P.Ching.

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  7. In the opening I thought he was already in freefall, trying to rationalize not having a chute, or at least trying to get his mind off the imminent impact. The last paragraph is sensory pleasure. Thanks for sharing, Mike.

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  8. placebythefire, John: Thanks much for reading and commenting. John, I'm sure you know how a piece like this goes. Can't afford to think it out beforehand too much. Plant the seed and see how it grows. Cheers all!

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  9. You did a great job creating a lot of feelings in a short space. It always amazes me when I read something like your last paragraph where I feel like the words and structure mirror the action

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  10. High praise, M. Tate, thanks very much.

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  11. I just fell into that last paragraph and got lost for a while.

    This is superb.

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  12. I love how the story carries you into the feeling of the character's dreamlike state and into that sensation of jumping and not knowing for sure if it's dream or real... as one into lucid dreaming it really struck me!

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  13. I think this story comes from my desire to learn to lucid dream. I've done it rarely and spontaneously but never got the nack of doing it intentionally. Thanks for the comment!

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  14. Very tricky, It makes me think of the man who dreamt that he was 'a man dreaming of being asleep but realising he was sleeping whist dreaming of being awake'

    If that makes sense. :)

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