At first, it wasn’t flying—it was more like not-falling.
He was walking down the steps when his foot stepped out into nothingness. He almost tripped, almost snatched his foot back, but instead, he took another step, tentatively, into the air. He stayed there, suspended over the concrete steps of his apartment building until slowly, he began to sink back down, landing softly on the pavement below.
It didn’t happen again that day, or that week even, although he waited for it, holding his breath every time he walked down a flight of stairs. When it did happen, suddenly, two weeks after the first time, he tried to move around. He floated to the roof of his building and landed, taking off again a minute later, completely in control.
And just like that, it became more than not-falling. It became flying, all on its own.
After that, he flew all the time. He flew to work, to the supermarket and back, to the library. The neighbors were startled at first, to be sure, but he lived in a small town, and people adjusted quickly. A few people tried to not-fall themselves, but just ended up with broken bones and scraped limbs. I’m sorry, he said. I don’t know why it’s just me. People were jealous, but he wasn’t selfish, and soon everyone realized how useful he could be, saving cats from trees, washing building windows. In fact, at the town fair, he took all the children flying with him. Just hold my hand tight, he said. Don’t fall, now.
It stopped as suddenly as it started.
One day, he was called to rescue a little boy from a tree, and when he got there, he just couldn’t leave the ground. He tried a couple of times, and then gave up. I don’t know, he said, and everyone was nice about it. Don’t worry, they said. Everyone has an off day.
It wasn’t just an off day, and, although he tried, he never flew again. Sometimes, walking down the stairs, he would not-fall, but it never lasted long, and after awhile, even that stopped too. The windows he had washed became dirty again, and the fire department became busy again, and as time went by, it became a fairy tale, told over and over again, sitting on the porch on a summer’s night.
Story By: Rachel
Photo By: Monica