Saturday, November 15, 2014

PAST THE SPEED OF SOUND

Flying too close to the sun sure didn't end well for Icarus, and for a while there I wondered if my fate would be the same — a plunge to the ocean and death by drowning for a Pisces man who never learned how to swim.

Like Icarus, my crime was hubris, and like him I ignored all warnings and shrugged off due diligence. What do you mean, I can't touch the sun? It's shining full force on me and I've got wings, dammit. Watch me.

Up there in the rare air the wax in the wings melted and all I could smell was burnt feathers, the sort of scent you run across in a voodoo ceremony out in the woods. Only the forest was way down there, next to the ocean that would be my grave. After being on fire the idea of being in the water didn't seem so bad. The sun kept shining. Finished with me, it now had other souls to consume.

My face turned away from that fireball and I remembered what it was like to be cool. I adjusted the failing wings strapped to my back and managed to maneuver them enough to start a glide. The crash was still inevitable but at least I'd bought myself enough time to enjoy the view, snap a few selfies, maybe smoke a fag — you know, one last gasp before hitting the water. Probably not enough time to post to Instagram but if I moved fast enough I might be able to squeeze in a tweet or two.

But somewhere between there and the ocean I noticed the wax had quit melting. My wings looked pretty sorry but they still seemed to work; with enough effort I was getting a little lift — not enough to soar but I was no longer falling.

Now I no longer wanted to drown, and my arms worked those wings, mad flapping to catch an updraft so I could feel it cool the sweat on my brow. Another wind grabbed my wings and pushed me even higher and pretty soon I was back above the clouds and I could no longer see the water.

The birds kept me company. One in particular — a striking creature with big feathers and deep pools for eyes — glided over to share the view. We talked about Derek and the Dominos; she mentioned Pattie Boyd's book. We spent a day deconstructing Thomas Hardy and Tess. When the stars began their stare I felt her relax against me and I let myself close my eyes to savor the sweet moment.

I had forgotten how nice it was to fly.

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