Your whole life you are sleepwalking, until suddenly, one night, you wake up and know exactly what it is you must do. You open wide your bedroom window. The wind is whipping your face, screaming in your ears, but you barely even notice. You climb out onto the narrow ledge. One quick leap upwards, and you’re on the roof. The freezing rain is drenching your thin shirt, cold water filling your unlaced boots. You tilt your head back and stretch wide your arms. The weather vane is spinning like a top, and your hair is blowing straight back.
Screeching harpies fill the air, swooping and diving about your shoulders. They have the bodies of graveyard dogs, the wings of scavenger birds, and the faces of all your childhood nightmares. With one hand, you brush them aside. You walk along the spine of the roof, eyes closed, one foot steadily in front of another. There are hyaenas growling deep in their throats and snapping at your heels. You reach down and they fall silent at your touch, licking your outstretched hand.
The men with the megaphones are gathered somewhere in the darkness beneath you. Your old high school teacher is there, and your ex-husband, and a team of physicists to explain why it can’t be done. They have searchlights and helicopters and statistics. They have medicines and research findings and anecdotal evidence. Someone is taking a flash photograph of the chalk outline where they predict your body will fall.
One more step and you’re on the chimney stack. You can feel the humming and crackling of an oncoming electrical storm, the tingle of lightning in the tips of your fingers. You step out into thin air, and float to the ground, landing far past the gathered crowd, who are still looking for you in the place that you were. Without a sound, you dissolve into the shadows. You turn a corner, and find yourself on a long street with old houses. At first, you think you’ve never been there before, but then you begin to realize that it’s the street you were born on.
In one of the houses, a six-year-old child is kneeling on the back of an armchair, chin resting on the sill of the half-open window, cooling like a pie in the twilight. The child is watching the street, waiting for his mother to return from the hospital. It’s the day before the news arrives, the day before everything changes forever. You walk up to the window, and the child looks right through you. He doesn’t know you exist. You place a hand on his head, wishing there were something you could say. But there is nothing, and it wouldn’t matter anyway. Everything will be okay.
You turn your back, and head out into the wild night. The wind is blowing in your face. Everything will be okay.