Her body cascades down the cliff, and she’s bathed in the afterglow of the twilight sky. The wind pinches her cheeks. The figures and forms that she observed from above are alien now, shifting with her ever-changing perspective. She fidgets with the zippers and buttons on her jacket, closing any opened pockets and patting down any loose fibers. It’ll take some midair acrobatics, but it must be done. Always have to look good when she’s out and about – can’t risk having anybody judge her, after all.
500 meters above the ground, and she’s adjusting her collar. The scarf can adjust itself.
450, she’s brushing off her shoes.
400, and she’s tightening her shoelaces.
350 meters – there’s no mirror, so she’ll have to rely on intuition today.
At 300, she clears her throat.
At 250, she flexes her wrists.
And thus concludes the ceremony. She huffs, and brushes her fluttering hair to the opposite side.
She pulls on the loose cords of her jacket and releases a small parachute. The skyline comes in full, and the sun peeks its face in between glass skyscrapers. Hanging by four connected wires, she dangles down like a puppet, swinging her legs side-by-side in asynchronous motion on an invisible swingset. She glides through the city, and catches no stares from random pedestrians. The city glances at her, and gives her no more than a bored acknowledgement. She takes what she can for her ego, and waits for the daily disappearance of the sun just like everybody else – with relieved indifference. The scene is picturesque – somehow, pastels blend well into the boldness of shadowed modern architecture. On days like this, she could stay in the air forever. Her boss would understand.
But “relaxing” turns into “unwinding,” and “unwinding” turns into “extended breaks.” She’s had enough of cascades for the day. Work awaits.
Smooth neons and glossy fluorescence give way to lush greenery and homegrown vegetation. She lands with a soft thud. Hard ground, manmade, and well-maintained – even the asphalt intimidates her. It’s quiet, it’s calm, and it’s everything that she could hope for in her adolescent years. White fences and onyx gates compete to see how well they can guard their owners’ insecurities, while unused pools lie in wait of eventual midlife crises to bubble up and manifest on a cool Sunday afternoon. Everyone’s either trying to show off or trying to show that they don’t care about showing off. Feelings of inadequacy arise at every other corner. Every lawn is greener than the next. It’s the perfect marriage between the satisfied and the unsatisfied – at some point, someone’s going to say something that’s going to make someone else doubt everything that they’ve ever known and reject everything that they’ve ever enjoyed, then add, after all of their anxieties have already arisen, that ‘It’s nothing major, really.’ With a flick of the wrist and a few sentence fragments, someone can change an entire outlook on life – past, present, and future – and in those same actions imply that nothing really mattered in the first place.
It’s everything that she’s ever wanted to experience. The cloth napkins at the dinner table, the tailored children’s clothing, the fretting, the lazing, and all the problems that come along with a life like that – she wanted all of it.
But now she’s here, standing on the other side of the fence, staring at someone else’s choices.