The Upward Option

Submitted into Contest #48 in response to: Write about someone who has a superpower.... view prompt



Everyone has wished or hoped or dreamed they could fly at some point in their lives. Free as a bird, finally untethered from their earthly troubles as they soar through the stratosphere. It’s a nice idea, but I can barely stand the troposphere myself.

I’m no meteorologist, but Google says that 62°F is the average tropospheric temperature, and it can get as cold as -60°F. I went up to test it out a while back and… won’t be going that far up again. So lame.

Then there’s the matter of landing. I don’t really watch superhero movies or read comics or anything, but I pulled up some stuff on YouTube as “reference material” when I was learning the ropes. These characters all plummet to the ground like crashing planes, then land in a cool pose. Y’know what actually happens to crashing planes? They crash. They crash and burn and people die. So instead of crashing and burning and dying, I got into the habit of pretending I was doing my driving test all over again: start slowing down at least 100 feet before coming to a full stop. Never broke a bone that way.

I thought watching birds might clue me into the hidden intricacies of flight, but I’ve come up with diddly-squat. They either flap their wings or ride air currents, and the way they swoop onto branches – and proceed to chirp incessantly, which I know is just them laughing at me – can be described as nothing less than effortless. I just kinda… go? I have no idea. There’s always a warm feeling in my stomach as I’m rising, like some kind of energy is building down there, but it goes away fast. I could always get an x-ray and see what medical experts have to say, but that would mean revealing my secret, which would mean unwanted attention galore, which would mean life as I know it would spiral even farther downward than it already has.

Heh. It’s funny. My heart swelled three sizes when I first started flying. I immediately thought what anyone would think: “What can I do with this power?” Superheroics never crossed my mind – but saving on gas money did. So did easy vacations. So did impressing friends and family and potential love interests. Everything was hunky-dory in my tiny little brain for, oh, I don’t know, two weeks? I’d be surprised at myself if it really lasted that long.

But whatever. Point is, it didn’t last very long at all. The more logical side of my brain kicked into overdrive and shoved everything else aside like so much chopped liver. How would people truly react if they saw me like this? Would friends and family react any differently than strangers? Would my secret be kept without my having to constantly insist that it be kept? Am I able to keep it secret? If someone spotted me cruising along and I didn’t notice, would they think they were daydreaming or would they call the police? And let’s say the police chose to believe that person – better yet, let’s say that person was a police officer. Would they tail me? Take me in for questioning? Shoot me down?

It didn’t end there. My mind went on… and on… and on… and on…

So yeah. I don’t really fly anymore.

It’s not even worth it when I’m home alone. I don’t fly fast enough to justify using it to get to the bathroom quicker if I really gotta pee or something along those lines. (My apartment isn’t big enough to begin with. Bathroom’s in my bedroom.) At most, I fly out of bed in the morning when I don’t have the energy to push myself up on my elbows. Sometimes I float to the kitchen and drop down by my sorry excuse for a coffee machine. Really gotta get that thing replaced.

The last time I actually flew to a place that wasn’t my couch was to the bus stop. Sort of. I knew there was no way I was gonna make it to work with the speed my building’s one elevator moves – or doesn’t. I had a presentation to make that, if my million rehearsals stuck with me, could’ve gotten me a promotion. So I took a chance. I opened the window and flew down next to the fire escape, ready to grab it in case I messed up somehow. I didn’t even check for peeping toms, despite knowing that one guy across the alleyway likes to watch me change. (He’s cute, so I guess I don’t always mind.) Soon as I hit the ground, I booked it as fast as anyone can in heels. Made the bus with microseconds to spare. Clocked in just on time. Botched the presentation, though. I was so pumped up on adrenaline that I think I performed a little too well, which didn’t sit right with my boss; the look on his face screamed, “You’re on drugs, aren’t you?” People in the office skirted me all day long, probably wondering how I had so much energy when they hadn’t seen me with a cup of coffee that morning.

That’s it, though. Unless there’s some life-or-death situation where running just isn’t gonna cut it, I’m sticking to the ground like us lowly mortals were originally meant to.

Y’know… this is kinda random, but… what would it be like if I was some rich kid? If I lived in my parents’ mansion, sitting on acres and acres of property with no one else around? Would I fly for pleasure just because I could, without fear of capture or reprimand? I don’t have any rich friends, so I don’t know. And I don’t fly for pleasure now, so I probably wouldn’t be that different if there were a few extra Benjamins in my wallet.

Truth is, I don’t even feel like I’m “wasting a gift” or anything like that. No power-to-responsibility ratio I feel like I need to balance. (I know I said I don’t watch superhero movies or anything, but everybody knows that one.) I’m just living my life – or trying to. Hovering around wouldn’t change the facts, wouldn’t help me “find myself” or some crap. I’m broke, I’m single, I’m depressed. That’s my life right now.

But hey, that’s okay! I am actively trying to turn over a new leaf. I just started a second job and opened a savings account. The less I use my parents as a financial crutch, the better. I’ve gone on, what, maybe three dates in the past six months? None of them went well – they were all disasters of the highest order, if I’m being a thousand percent honest – but they happened, and that alone is progress. And therapy is a thing. I like my therapist. He has really nice eyes. Who knows? Might ask him out, if dating a shrink isn’t against their code or whatever.

I also accept the fact that I’m not nearly intelligent enough to use flight in any sort of creative way. Were it my brother, he’d try out being a hero before questioning his own safety and qualifications. Then he’d get hurt and try again, because he’s an idiot. I kinda miss that idiot. Maybe I’ll call him later, tell him what an idiot he is.

Anyway. The amount of stuff I’m definitely not thinking of is probably embarrassing. It doesn’t help that I fly no faster than I can run, but I’m sure there’s something I could be doing that I’m just… not. I already know I’m not going to put the effort into even trying to think of some such purpose, though.

Whatever my “purpose” in life is, it’s not up in the clouds (which, by the way, are nothing but wet and cold). It’s not where I’m currently at either, but it’s somewhere down here in the muck and grime of everyday life. Maybe I’ll find it, maybe it’ll find me. Maybe one day I’ll just give up and fly away after all. It’s always an option.

It’s always an option…

June 30, 2020 18:44

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