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The untethered man

May 22, 2014

He never asked for the ability to float in mid-air. It just happened one day, his feet leaving the ground, his stomach turning once, twice, then settling into its new relation to gravity.

In meetings, he bobbed at one end of the table like a balloon from a long-ago office party. He knew how they all felt about this development. He had seen more than one eye roll in the seated bunch.

They’re just jealous, he told his wife as he hovered in the kitchen one night. They are all so tethered, they can’t see my point of view.

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Open without warning

May 20, 2014

They lived in a house where the upstairs windows flew open without warning, the wind slipping wispy fingers between frame and sill and flinging open the casements.

She worried they’d come home one evening after work and realize the cat had slipped out on her own, long-desired adventure. Can’t you bolt them shut? she asked. She was not a woman who knew how to do things with her hands.

He held back from answering, though he could have easily solved the problem. But he feared locking the windows would mean settling for a life without surprises.

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When the little one fell

May 8, 2014

The small, falling bird brushed me with flailing wings, then slapped the concrete balcony floor behind me. It was dead on impact, but looked like it was waiting to revive itself and fly home.

I had watched the bird’s mother from my bedroom window as she built a nest on the balcony above mine, warmed her eggs, fed her hatchlings. On warm nights when I sat outside, I had heard chirping after they were born.

I did not know where the mother was that night, nor if she ever learned how her little one disappeared.

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Mythical city

May 6, 2014

They were told the city was mythical, but they decided to go anyway, planning flights, a train ride, and finally an hour on a boat to an island where they might end up stranded, but at least they’d be together.

What do you pack to visit a myth? she asked, only partially joking as she sifted through a pile of tissue-thin blouses.

No matter what, we should take a First Aid kit, he replied. He liked to be practical, but he also hoped that, along the way, they could mend the cracks that had opened up between them.

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Journey

April 20, 2014

The road to the Sea of Trees was damp, the sky above grey. They both shivered beneath scarves and jackets. She had told him she would accompany him only so far, her words like the crack of a broken branch.

He had thought they’d make conversation as they went, though he could not fathom how that might start. The further they progressed, the more her face matched the sky.

That’s all, she said finally. It ends here for me.

The forest awaited, but as he watched her retreat toward her life, his regrets gathered around his feet like leaves.

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Aliens at the end of her arms

April 6, 2014

She spent a long time examining the backs of her hands, pushing the thin skin into ripples with her fingers. She pondered the dry patch near her left pinky, the one bulging vein near her right middle knuckle. Her cuticles needed to be pushed back, and her fingernails were growing unevenly.

They were like old friends, these hands, and they had done so much to help her along the way. But today they seemed like unfamiliar beings, aliens at the ends of her arms. They spoke of who she had become, a person she sometimes didn’t even recognize.

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Rhythm and rain

April 4, 2014

They woke to the sound of falling rain, and it made their warm bed’s gravitational pull even stronger than usual.

I’m not ready yet, he said, and he reset his alarm clock, changing the day’s whole rhythm. The minutes slid by like drops down the windowpanes, and they slept again, the blankets muffling all the worries about what would come later. The light seeped into the room, revealing all the cracks between the two of them and the world outside.

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