When the South Wind Blows, Glass Shatters and Disappears Like Rain
A young girl’s body hurtles through a stationery store window at top speed. Head forward, arms tucked to sides, feet pointed neat behind, a human torpedo propelled streamline through the late afternoon haze. The sun on her white hair makes it shine metallic. Her point of origin, how she got from feet on the ground gravity to barreling through mid-air, is unclear.
Our girl is eleven or twelve. Anything remarkable that has happened to her so far is because she was there when it happened to someone else. She was there when her mother saw the demon perched on the back of a chair in the guest bedroom. She was there when her brother ate an entire five-pound bag of dry rice and watched with him as his stomach expanded to the point they thought it would burst. Now the weirdness has found her, horizontal and several feet off the ground. Our girl and those watching, we will determine her flight path.
A banker is hurrying along, late for a meeting after a bitter fight with his wife. On days like this, he keeps the image of the bank front in his mind as he strides the blocks away, tries not to think about how much concrete is left to cover. When he sees our girl come through the window, he freezes, slim frame anticipating. He doesn’t want to watch, but knows he can’t look away. His subconscious tries to calculate probabilities using rusty physics knowledge from his undergraduate days—with her speed, trajectory, location—what the outcome will likely be. He can only think of one likely result, but his conscious is unaware of the possibilities his subconscious is piling up.
Our girl keeps momentum an exhilarating moment longer before a drop in altitude, a warning she can’t fly like this forever. Her heart pounds as the concrete zips below, a line of tape with a definite end. Struggling, she pulls her hand to her chest, but the wind whips it back in place and she falls. With a bounce and a thud, she thinks, she will drive into the dirt leaving furrows behind her, an airplane in a cartoon. Her chin will hit first and her teeth crack together, hard enough for her to imagine them crumbling out of her mouth.
A doctor also in the crowd, watching the event. She’s rushing to respond to call when our girl enters the air, almost bowls her down. The doctor watches our girl’s progress forward, runs through the list of vitals she’ll check when our girl inevitably falls back to earth. Pulse, bones, contusions, eye focus, brain function. Next to those thoughts, in the back of her mind, the doctor takes a minute to marvel at the clothespin straightness, the calm forward motion of our girl’s body cutting through the wind.
Our girl’s brother stands in front of the stationery store window, where he and his sister had been roughhousing the moment before. The large hole in the display glass is clean, not jagged, like someone shaped it with whatever tool would be right for the job. He traces his finger around the edges, slices skin on a sharp piece. Against the thick glass, his blood looks watered down. He remembers his fists around our girl’s arms, an upward jerk of his muscles, nothing more. No broken fragments scattered out on the street. It’s like the hole was already there and our girl just slipped right through.
A disheveled man sees our girl motoring toward him from the other sidewalk and speeds up, tapping something from a case in his torn pocket. He replaces it next to a heavy flask, runs a hand through his grimy hair. He doesn’t want to stay and watch, wants to get far away as fast as possible. He knows about pain. Too much already. He slips into the alley and he’s gone.
Our girl soars over the heads in the crowd gathered outside. Keeping arms tight at her sides and feet pointed straight back, she rises steady in a line, past a public school, a church, gaining altitude past skyscrapers, cityscape, hills, mountains, sky. Soon she is grazing the surface of the land, a bird searching for a meal as it skims the water. This is the up and the down, this is our ending ready or not. Our girl will be in the atmosphere, part of the weather. And she will fall. But when she does, it will be with the rain.
All rights reserved to Bailey Lewis