Flight and Chains

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
A boy meets a mysterious girl who taught him how to fly.

Submitted: December 16, 2012

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Submitted: December 16, 2012

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My life? Well, it’s ordinary.

 

I live my life the way I lived yours, really. There’s nothing in it that makes me special. I have no skills to make me exceptional from the rest of the species. I am as Homo sapiens as I can be.

 

I am a typical college student. I wake up in the morning, take a bath, brush my teeth, skip breakfast for I have no cash to spare, go to school, sleep in most of my classes, then return to the apartment, do something… you know, what most boys do, sleep, and after six hours, I repeat the process.

 

I am forever stuck in this cycle. It’s quite boring, actually. I sometimes wonder if slitting my wrists open would wake me up, give me a little adrenaline rush to make me feel alive again.

 

But I cannot do it, for the thought of pain and possible death scares me. That is why I continue to live this life, stuck in a forever-repeating cycle. I just wished that something interesting would happen, like a plane crashing on the school grounds, or an alien invasion. Not that I believe in aliens. I just wanted something new.

 

I am pretty much ordinary, in every aspect.

 

But all of this changed when she arrived.

 

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

I was sitting on a bench underneath a tall tree, alone (for I am an introvert, and I hate a loud company), reading a book about local myths and legends, when she came and looked at me curiously, like I was a bad display on a circus.

 

“Can you fly?” she asked earnestly, tilting her head. I looked at her, thinking that it was some kind of a stupid joke, and when I saw her naïve expression, I reconsidered throwing an insult. “No,” I said.

 

“That’s too bad,” she replied, and she sat next to me. “I can fly, you see.” She looked interestingly at the horizon, like she had seen something other than the old school building. I could not fathom her expression. She was smiling, as though there was something interesting beyond what she sees… something more…

 

She smiled at me. “I guess I should teach you how.”

 

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

After meeting her, everything changed. I was dragged on to a world which I have never seen before, a world that existed only in the mind, but somehow, escaped into this reality. I have never intended to enter her world in the first place. She, however, for reasons unknown, managed to ease into mine, like a worm burrowing underground, searching for sanctuary.

 

I guess it was a good thing though. I was bored, and I was willing to try anything new. That includes spending time with the weirdest girl I was lucky (or unlucky) to meet.

 

She told me to meet her at around ten in the evening at the school cafeteria. I asked what for, and she said she needed help. I have two exams the day after, and a paper that is also due. I looked at her, guessing what she had planned to do in the late hour in the evening, and the idea seemed more enticing than being cooped up in the apartment.

 

I said yes.

 

I was earlier than expected, but she was already there. She was on her bed clothes that night, for I remember the teddy bear patterns of her blue pajamas. “You’re early,” she greeted. “So I guess we have to change our plans.”

I did not know the original plans, so I just shrugged and let her do the “changes” as she sketched something on the dirt with a stick. It was a circular symbol, like something you’ll see in a cult ritual. She drew a series of them from the cafeteria to the old school building, like marking a trail. As to why, I’d never know for I never asked. She told me to stand and wait on the symbol she drew directly in front of the building, and she circled around it, returning ten minutes later panting. She smiled and told that she was ready.

 

Entering the school was forbidden, especially at ten–thirty in the evening. Either she did not know, or she did not care. It was the latter, because she eventually told me to sneak upon the guard at the entrance, soundly asleep over a bottle of beer. She also warned me never to get caught at all cost, for we are risking expulsion.

 

That made my heart race. What was she planning to do?

 

“Commune with the spirits,” she happily answered, like it was the most normal, natural thing in the world – to talk to the dead. She said it like it was just as ordinary as drinking water, or breathing air.

 

One of her many antics, I suppose. I asked her why. “For the exams, silly,” came the reply. “I haven’t studied yet, and I don’t want to fail. That is why I want to know the answers to the mysteries of this world, like the exams tomorrow.”

 

Mysteries of this world, huh? She was one of them, I thought.

 

“And you think talking to the dead will help you?” I inquired, rather rudely.

 

“The dead?” she smirked. “The dead stays dead,” she said as a-matter-of-factly. “We’re here to talk to the spirits. Oh, wait – I’m here to talk to the spirits. You are here to assist me. You can’t see them, with how you are now. They are pretty much alive, like you and me, you see.”

 

Every time she ended her statement with “you see”, I always recall the first time she used that on me.  “I can fly, you see.”

 

The phrase is always accompanied by the weirdest phenomenon unknown to Science.

 

We settled in one of the classrooms, Room 207. She breathed in deep, sensing something in the air which I could never fathom. She danced around, like a ballerina. Again, she was being herself – all weird and stupid.

 

She looked at me, then ushered me outside. She said I would scare the spirits, for I cannot see them but they can see me, and they find it offensive. I could’ve asked thousands of questions then to counter her premises of spirits and stuff, but I let it go. I just don’t have the time to argue with her. Nor do I have the arguments.

 

I went outside to wait while she continued to do whatever she’s doing, which I never plan to know. I waited there for quite some time. I felt the hair on my neck and my arms stand, and I wondered if these are the spirits at work, or it is simply the cold that envelops the corridor. I chose the latter as the answer. It’s because I can explain it further.

 

There was a sudden scurrying of footsteps at the stairs, followed by a glare of the flashlight. The guard was coming, and we are in trouble. I panicked, hastily opening the door to warn her, only to find the room empty of any sign of life – human or spirit. I was all alone, and the guard was coming my way. With the fear of expulsion in mind, I snuck up to the corner where the lockers were located, praying to the almighty to render me invisible just for a minute.

 

I forgot to close the door, and the guard, attracted by the sight of an open classroom like a fly to a wastebasket, entered. He shone his flashlight across the room. “Hello, anybody there?”

 

I would have answered then and there how stupid the question was, like, did he really expect a reply from that even if someone was here?

 

Minutes later, he closed the door, and I heard his footsteps getting farther and farther away. I had half the mind to search for my companion on the other rooms, but out of madness (yes, I was mad at her for leaving me), I chose to escape instead, while the guard is not yet at the entrance. If the guard did catch her, then that’s her trouble, not mine.

 

I traced my way back to the cafeteria, noticing the symbols written by her earlier to have footprints in the center. When I got there, she was waiting, much to my surprise. “You’re late,” she greeted, smiling.

 

I asked her how’d she get out, and she said she had some help. I did not bother to ask her any further. My head was aching trying to understand all of this, and she just seems to add some more to the mix.

 

I wondered if she was successful in communing with her spirits. That was, after all, the reason why I risked my dignity at ten in the evening. But I guess it worked though, for she got top scores in Algebra in the exam the following day. She was a good student, over-all, and I wondered if talking to her spirits was the reason why she got on the list of top students.

 

I never bothered to ask.

 

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

It’s not that she had any other friends other than me. I saw her a lot of times in company of other people. Thing is, there’s nothing common with her friends.

 

Once, I saw her with the seniors, and some other time, with the juniors. She would be with the popular girls, and next time, you’d see her studying in the library with the geeks. She was either here or there, never on the same page for long.

 

She does embody chaos sometimes. I hear people talk about her all the time, a bad gossip that’s gone stale for several months. At first, those who talk about her were apprehensive, of her and of her behavior. But, I guess the whole school got used to it. They soon forgot about the “weirdest being”, and switched now to the most recent topics there are at the moment, like the queen bee getting pregnant, the star athlete being kicked out of the varsity team, and the threesome a cheer dancer had with the queen bee and the star athlete.

 

She amazes me, you know. It’s how she carries her world. Like nothing’s that big of a deal at all. Everything she encounters, it’s as though she was used to it (yes, even the peculiar ones). She acts as though she already experienced them in the past, may it be hunting spirits in the courtyard, talking to the lady in the mirror, or reading to an invisible child at the library (that was one hell of an encounter, I tell you that).

 

 

“What’s your name?” I asked her one afternoon.

 

She acted like she did not hear the question. She was busy trapping invisible insects with her hands.

 

People call her with nicknames for the past few months after I met her. That was the time I knew she existed, and when people say something about a girl and the out-of-this-world thing she does, I realize that it was her. The nicknames people had of her were quite… insulting, I might say. That is why I got curious when I saw her one afternoon, in the courtyard, clapping in mid-air like a fool.

 

“What’s your name?” I repeated. I observed her, and it was like watching a little kid prancing on the grass, as innocent as a newborn would be. Thing is, she is not a little kid. She is of my age (I guess), and when she talks, she has the wisdom of an adult. It’s only the way she moves that makes me think that there is something very out of order with her and her world.

 

She paused, looked curiously at her clasped hands, blew on it, and then opened it, like she released the insect she caught earlier (or she thinks she did, I can’t really tell).

 

“Why’d you want to know?” she asked eventually.

 

“It’s obvious, isn’t it? I don’t know you, by name. It’s quite a bummer calling you by your… nickname.” I stumbled when I said the last word. I wasn’t cautious enough.

 

She smirked. “I know that. People know me by the nickname they made for me for they never really know me.” She sat beside me. “I myself don’t really know who I am, so I guess it’s better to take that identity, you know, the one people made for you.” She looked at the distance again, smiling. “I guess it’s like saying you see yourself the way others see you,” she said it as though she has only realized it for the first time.

 

That caught me by surprise. I never knew her to be so… recessive. “Doesn’t that mean you let others define you?”

 

“They only define that part of me, the one that they see,” she said, again with that matter-of-factly conviction of hers. “The rest,” she added as an afterthought, “is up to me.”

 

I never really understood what she meant by then. I guess, I’ll never really understand that. It is because, once again, I never bothered to ask.

 

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Through the days, I noticed the changes in me. They were subtle, like ripples in the ocean – never really noticed, but they are there. I started to view the world at a different perspective, in her perspective. I cannot really state the specifics. I haven’t seen a spirit still, or the invisible insects in the courtyard. But somehow, I started to understand what she alone can. Well, not really in her level, that’s just hardcore. I still have my sanity in check. But when I listen to the birds chirp, I don’t hear them chirping. I hear them singing, a melody so pleasing to the ears.

 

When I look at the distance, I just don’t see the horizon, but rather the endless possibilities that can be. Maybe that’s why she always smiles when she looks at the distance. Maybe, that’s why she is so optimistic, so carefree, like a child. It’s because she also knows. She always had.

 

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

“Come here,” she beckoned as I went outside the heavy metal door. The sign that read ‘No Entry’ unnerved me. I should tell her that, but I realized she’ll never care. She never did. Forbidden places attract her.

 

“What now?” I asked when I decided to ignore the No Entry sign and the consequences that come after. She was dancing again, that childish dance of hers. I only realized just now, her movements. They were graceful and clumsy at the same time.

 

She stopped and laughed. “You’ve forgotten, silly. I’ll teach you how to fly, of course.”

 

This time, it got me nervous. Is that why she led me here, in the school’s rooftop?

 

I stepped forward cautiously, afraid of what’s going to happen next (or what I picture it would be). The wind greeted me, warm and gentle. The breeze was lifting her short, brown hair. She closed her eyes.

 

She opened them, her brown eyes dancing with joy, and smiled at me.

“Come,” she said, once again, as she reached her arms for me. “The wind is great here.”

 

“Be careful, will you,” I told her, concern filling my voice. She does almost everything she wanted. If she said she’d fly, she will, even though I know she can’t. But she will. That’s just how she is.

 

“You are so uptight,” she chuckled. “You can’t fly when you worry too much. That burden chains you to the ground. It will be heavy, and you won’t be able to lift yourself. You need to free yourself from those chains, the things you worry about. It’s how you fly, you see.”

 

There it is again, the phrase I often hear which always lead to something. “You see”.

 

“Here, watch this,” she said, as she raised her arms sideward, like a bird lifting its wings, ready for flight. She circled on her place, slowly and gracefully. She closed her eyes once again, smiling, trapped in the moment.

 

She seemed so happy… so peaceful. The wind got stronger, and the breeze was becoming more and more aggressive. It was not angry, however. It was just being supportive with my companion’s attempt.

 

I never saw her levitate in the air, which I was expecting she will. But that did not matter. She was already in flight.

 

She was high above me, looking at the creation below her. Though her body was chained to the ground, her soul was free, roaming about.

 

At that very moment, she was a sight to behold.

 

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

There were a lot of things I would’ve wanted to ask her, but when they popped up in my mind, it did not seem like the best moment to raise the question. I asked for her name once, and she did not even give that to me.

 

I would’ve wanted to ask her about her life, her dreams, her past, and the future she wanted. I would’ve asked her if she wanted me to be a part of that future.

 

My ordinary life was becoming more and more interesting because of her. It’s not that she was something out of ordinary. No, she was as ordinary as you and me – a mere human being. But there is something in her that makes her special.

 

I would have asked her a lot of things then, and relish on the weirdest answers I’ll get. But somehow, I did not.

 

And maybe that was the only thing I regretted most.

 

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

I noticed her absence first.

 

I wondered why I haven’t seen her for a while, that unnamed, not-so-mysterious friend of mine (well, not anymore). I pondered about her being gone. I only took it seriously when people started to notice too. That weird girl who catches insects in the courtyard (and some other nicknames they gave her) was gone.

 

I realized that people started to realize. Only then did I start asking questions.

 

She was gone, they said. No one really knew why. One day, she was here. Next, she was gone.

 

She might come back, they said. She’s weird, and her absence might simply be another one of her ‘episodes’.

 

I agreed. It was a logical explanation.

 

She’d come back, I assured myself.

 

But she did not.

 

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

The semester has ended, and I can finally leave this school and go on to the next phase of my life. After meeting her, things were once again back to normal. I’ve only known her for less than a semester, but she became a big part of me. I should know. I missed her so.

 

Times like these call for farewells and goodbyes, and I’ve already done that. I said my piece to all that I met along the way as I walked towards the corridor that led to the rooftops. I said goodbye to everyone I knew. Well, not exactly everyone.

 

I took the flight of stairs that led to the exit door to the rooftop, as I often had. I remembered the first time I’ve been here, and that was when she taught me how to fly. After she’s gone, I would come here, in the late afternoon, when no one would care where I was, and would attempt to fly too.

 

I did so in vain.

 

There is so much that chains me to this world that I can never take off. The questions I never asked, her absence, my life, my future, my loss.

 

But this time, I felt lighter for some reason. And, for the last time, I decided to go to the rooftop. I will attempt to fly again.

 

I opened the door (ignoring the ‘No Entry’ sign for the hundredth time). I stepped out and walked towards the center, slowly, cautiously. I remembered what she taught me.

 

I closed my eyes, and raised my arms, like a bird lifting its wings, preparing for flight. I felt the wind circling around me, its breeze warm and gentle. I took a deep breath. I forgot about everything.

 

I murmured a soft ‘goodbye’. I hear my chains snap.

 

And, in that moment, I felt myself go lighter. I felt my feet leave the ground. I felt I was flying, though I am sure I was not.#

 

 

 

 

 


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