The Girl Who Was Afraid She Might Float Away

by | Apr 11, 2023 | Fiction, Issue Thirty-Two

He stood up and walked to the bathroom, stepping over his suit in a pile on the carpet. She wondered if they’d taken her clothes off in the living room or in here. It had gone so fast. She propped herself on her elbows and looked around the bedroom. One faux oil painting of a beach that reminded her of the one in her bank lobby hung crooked on the wall next to the bed. Was he a banker, actually? She couldn’t remember what he said. Lawyer? Maybe he stole the artwork from his office. She smiled. That would be the most interesting thing about him so far.

The sheet laid on her nipples like fog. It rested lightly on the curve of her stomach. This was before she started asking them to lay on top of her not for sex but for heft. To push down on her, clothes on, after dinner. On the hard floor so all she could feel was the solid crush of their bones.

The toilet flushed. She laid her head back on the pillow. It was teal and soft, like a bazillion-thread count. Like she couldn’t count as high as this thread count was. Exponential luxury. Ten to the twenty-third power Egyptian threads. She felt her body light as a feather, hovering. The first time she felt that way was back when she was ten and got real sick and her mother made her drink Coke syrup and stay in bed. She was sweaty with fever and told her mother, who was leaning over her with a spoon, that she was a boxer in the ring and would win all her fights forever and always. Her mother laughed. From that night on, she sometimes felt like a big white feather, the length of her body weightless and detached. Vulnerable to a gust. Like if she wasn’t careful, she would end up on the ceiling like the kids in Mary Poppins or above the chimneys, past the treetops, up and up and up.

He crawled back in bed, curled into a ball and started to snore. She remembered the strength of his hands on her shoulders, touched the already tender faint blue marks on her hips from his fingers.

Tactile hallucinations is what her therapist called it when she told him about the feather. But she didn’t like that name very much. It turned her magic into a definition on page such and such of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. The feather made her different from other girls she knew swooning over dates, although some nights she shivered at the possibility that someday there would be no more suits or they would stop working and then and then and then what.

It was quiet in his apartment aside from the sound of his breath dragging itself through his trachea. She couldn’t stay in the non-anchored quasi silence. She slipped out from under the sheet and tiptoed to the pile on the floor. She’d take a cab. Roll the window down and let the frigid night air numb her cheeks.

She looked at his sleeping body, rising and falling with each buzzoo huzzzza. He was taller than the last and skinnier. She slid his dress pants up her legs, cold as lake water on her skin. Smooth. She buttoned the cuffs of the shirt tight around her wrists. What was his name? She yanked the belt through the buckle. Tight. She tied the tie and wiggled it until it pushed on her throat. 3:02 the alarm clock said in red numbers. She picked up the suit jacket and slid her arms into the silk-lined holes. She closed her eyes as it laid its navy weight on her back, dark and dense, like outer space acknowledging her existence, like the entire sky reaching down to keep her safe.

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