Dana Mele

Up and Away

We awoke weightless. Daniel bobbed beside me, nose against the dusty ceiling. I laughed. The shock of losing gravity was so horrifying it was comical. I pushed my palms against the ceiling. With the right balance, it was possible to remain upright, walk across the room on our hands.

 

Laurie flailed above her bed. “I’m stuck,” she said.

 

“It’s just one of those things,” I told her, and helped her find her balance.

 

I remembered the doctors laying her on my chest, brand new and slippery and so tiny. I cried because she would be our last, and a part of my life was over.

 

We walked on fingertips to Grant’s room. His feet were planted firmly on the carpet.

 

“Why aren’t you on the ceiling?” Laurie asked him.

 

“Honey, it’s just one of those things,” I repeated.

 

He shook his head and rocked back and forth on his heels. “No. It doesn’t work that way.” He looked up at me, a complete stranger.

 

“This is what we do now.” I inched closer to my firstborn, fingertip by fingertip. “We float.”

 

 “What did you think was going to happen?” Daniel said.

 

 “I thought you would be gone!” Grant shouted.

 

“Was Miranda gone?” I asked. “Did she just disappear?”

 

 “You make choices and you live with the consequences,” Daniel lectured, a broken record.

 

We were far from blameless. When he came home that night, filthy from head to toe, crying, we knew something was wrong. But he was our baby, and we held him and comforted him. We didn’t press, didn’t push, even as we printed fliers and cooked meals for the girl's family. He didn't tell us where the body was for a week, when she was long dead. We agreed to tell anyone who asked that we spent that night as a family. Even Laurie lied for Grant. She invented the details, the popcorn, the game of Sorry, homemade chocolate milkshakes.

 

“What will happen to me?” Grant asked. I saw my little boy again, the one who was sweet to me but cold to his father, distant from his sister and so cruel to Max, our pug who disappeared when Grant was seven.

 

“Something else,” I told him.

 

He reached for my ankle and held it against his face. “Don’t leave me.”

 

I smiled. “We never would have.”

 

“Can we go now, Mommy?” Laurie asked.

 

I nodded. “I think so.”

 

“Where are you going?” Grant cried, in a panic.

 

“Up,” I said, a shiver of joy running through my bodiless body. There was no anger or fear left, no pain. That little boy who had been ours was an Other. I took Daniel’s hand, and wrapped my arm around Laurie’s waist. The sky beckoned, cloudless and fulgent, the color of pure light.

 

“What about me?” Grant shouted after us. We passed through the skylight one by one, growing lighter and lighter, shedding every particle of memory and knowledge. Slippery and new, and tiny as sparks, we rose.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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ISSUE 92
Numantia

 

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