After you spend a day looking at your hands, pinching yourself and trying to levitate bowls of fruit, you feel strange, very strange indeed. I’ve started to question this reality. It’s like the lightheaded feeling after having flu; you’re walking on air. It’s liberating, but disconcerting at the same time.
By the time I get into bed, I’m wondering whether it has any hope of working. It all makes sense in theory, but so do seasons, yet that doesn’t stop us asking ‘why is it so cold?’ Nevertheless, I’m hopeful – I’ve done this before, it’s not like starting completely from scratch. Surprisingly, I fall asleep fairly quickly, despite my brain spinning with existential crisis and doubt.
Later that night I need some water; I brave the darkness waiting at the foot of the steps and turn on the lights to the kitchen, shutting the door quickly behind me so the monsters don’t get me. Checking reality has become a habit over the course of the day so I try to lift a bowl resting in the corner into the air. It flies. The realisation creeps over me that I am dreaming and I laugh – it worked first time! That was unexpected. Not unexpected enough to wake me up with the shock of it though, clearly.
I melt the walls of the kitchen around me; they become soft and malleable. The walls expand outwards. They disappear into a haze – the world has not formed in my mind – Yet. I haven’t decided what I want, so it is simply not there yet. I look behind me to see a hill that would be an impossibility whilst awake. It reaches up and up far into the sky, permeated and topped by a fantastical castle. It’s like a Swiss-cheese ruin. I take a running jump at it from miles away and momentarily take off before landing gently back on earth.
I look back and see I’ve only jumped yards. It’s not good enough: I want to fly! I try jumping again, then running and leaping into the air, floating for a while before landing again. Why can’t I fly? I pull my feet up behind me. I’m floating horizontally a foot above the ground whilst flapping my arms. I flap and I flap, but get no higher. An idea comes to me: just grow wings. Neither the stretched skin of bats nor angel-feathers seem to lift me any higher. With a sigh, I place my feet back down on the ground and decide instead to stand at the top of the castle.
Looking down, the world is spread out below me. It’s like looking out of a plane window except better. I lean forward and let myself drop, spreading my arms out and gliding in circles around the castle, spiralling downwards, lifted occasionally by imaginary thermals. It’s not flying yet, but for now, it’ll do. Maybe next time I will fly true.
Author: Sukie Baker
Artwork: Joel McCormack