Christina The Astonishing
I’m going to tell you something about myself that nobody knows (nobody, that is, except my sister Beatrice). It’s kind of nuts, and you have to promise that you won’t laugh, even though it’s nuts. I can fly. I really can.
Bea says I’m crazy. But I’m not crazy. She says I’m just imagining it. Or sleepwalking. Because nobody can fly, she says, it is impossible.
But it’s true.
Then you must be crazy, she says.
Here’s is how I do it. I sit silently by the window in my bedroom. I hold ever so still. Breathe slowly. Close my eyes. And then gently, gently I lean forward, or maybe the earth tips back, and swoosh I go, out the window, into the air.
Nobody has ever seen me fly. But that does not mean I haven’t done it. Flying is beautiful, more than fun. It’s frightening at first, but then you feel yourself steady, and it’s almost as if you are just sliding across some bridge in the sky. And when you feel brave enough, you can open your eyes and see the lights of the city glimmer and blur beneath you in their ecstatic game. They stop and start, twist and sparkle—phosphorescent beasts playing tag in the dark.
Landing is a pain. I always land on a rooftop. Rooftops are crooked and usually covered with black tar. Sometimes this cushions my landing, but mostly it just makes me dirty.
I can’t fly home for some reason. Instead I must walk along the sloping, sticky tar (I am usually barefoot or still in my slippers), and duck through a roof door. I creep down narrow stairs, never more than six flights (I don’t really fly very high), noting the clutter and riff-raff New Yorkers keep in their hallways. Sometimes there is a snoring drunk splayed on a landing, whom I am careful to step over. Sometimes there is a black cat who hisses and runs away. Or a mouse. Sometimes there are couples entwined—bodies pressed against the wall, slowly falling—blind to me, the mouse, the drunk.
You’re too old to pretend, Christina, Bea says. It’s all just a dream.
Why do you think I always have keys in my pocket? I fly away, but I have to walk back.
Don’t tell mom. She’ll have you locked up.
Our mother spends her evenings watching cable news. She is always ranting about liars, hidden agendas. But around her, even the truth must be cautious. So I don’t tell. She sleeps on the couch. Colors dance across her face—bright stripes racing along the curve of her cheek, her brow, chin. Metal voices fill the room.
Bea is asleep on the bottom bunk. I climb the creaky ladder to my own, wishing landings were easier, wishing I could land in a soft bed like this sometime or, even better, wishing I had someone to fly with, someone to land with me.
Kaarin Von is an entrepreneur in New York City’s bar and restaurant business, and spends down-time behind the bar writing. Her nonfiction has appeared in Time Out NY and Mr. Beller’s Neighborhood and she has just finished a novel about about the revelers and ghosts that haunt a dive bar in the 90’s. She lives in Manhattan with her husband, daughter, two black cats, and a Sicilian rescue dog.