Dive (flash fiction)

As I stand on the edge of this precipice, I know I am in no danger – yet, every cell of my body is telling me that I am about to die. My mind is still not strong enough to tell my body to be quiet. I, of all people, should not have this problem, especially after all this time.

For several years now, I have had a unique gift: I can see the future. It comes to me in visions more vivid than lucid dreams, images clearer and sharper than I experience in my waking hours. All my senses become more acute; I can hear crawling ants and softly waving grass, I can see the ridges and bumps on what should be smooth skin, and taste the ever-present dust in the city air. I see the future so well that reality, when it comes to pass, is ultimately disappointing.

The waves below look violent and forgiving all at once. I cannot hear them crashing over the thunderous volume of my heartbeat and all the blood pumping in my ears.

I am going to die.

But I am not going to die, and I know this for a fact.

I’m so high up that a man below me would look no longer than my index fingernail. I have never known myself to be afraid of heights. I have never known myself to be afraid of much.

I thought people were afraid of flying because they were afraid of falling, and afraid of falling because they were afraid of dying. I am not afraid of dying because I know I am not going to.

I have seen the future. There is no shortness of breath, no broken bones, not a single hair wet in the instant I resurface. It will be refreshing and I will be unharmed, glowing from the effect of the plunge, if only I just take the risk and dive.

I am the embodiment of what it is like to know the end before I have ever faced the beginning. I know what it feels like to have to suffer for the prize at the finish line, although I am not yet sure that knowing what the prize will be makes the trudging through the mud any less arduous. I know that it makes no difference to me. I know that I am resilient and full of grit. With concentration and determination, I can work my way through nearly all of life’s Herculean hurdles. I can see the future; I cannot believe in impossibilities.

It should not be so frightening, the prospect of jumping.

The voice in my head, the voice of the giver of my power, tells me I am not drenched in fear for lack of faith in my abilities. It whispers one word over and over again so that it feels like it is ricocheting off different parts of my skull in thumping echoes: Control. Control. Control.

I need nothing from you but your flight, says the voice. I do not need you to skin the Nemean lion. That involves strength. You have that. I do not need you to beat the ticking clock on a time bomb. That involves speed. You have that. I do not need you to resolve difficult disputes in throne rooms. That involves cleverness. You have that. What I want is your control. Give it up to me. Dive.

I close my eyes to see if that will make it better. Instead, it all gets worse. My palms and forehead begin to glisten. I fear I might fall by accident. I feel myself begin to sway in dizziness. I panic and my eyes open. They immediately look down. The fall will be long and agonizing.

In the state of what the voice calls flight, I will be in free fall. Those seconds between the moment my feet leave this ground and the moment my body hits the water, there will be nothing I can do to save myself by strength or wit. I will be at the mercy of the wind, if only for a minute. And in that minute, something in me will die, will be dying, will have died.

I am going to die.

I can’t do it.

I step away from the ledge. I try to move backwards, on to safer, firmer ground, where I know what will happen as long as I execute the right motions, lifting one foot and then the other, taking care to govern where my feet land. Yet I have already lost control. My feet move forward against my will. They keep moving as if something in me believes I can walk on air: an impossibility. It’s the last thing in the world I want to do, but…

I am going to dive.

-Akotowaa

In Too Deep

It was too hot. Then it was too cold. And now, it was just numb.

It was too bright. Then it was too dark. But now, it was just right.

“What’s wrong, Alicia?”

“Nothing.”

“What’s the matter, Alicia?”

“It’s too long to explain.”

“Are you okay, Alicia?”

A serene smile.

She stood erect at the top of the cliff, looking straight ahead of her, while the wind buffeted her hair. The faint moonlight illuminated the ripples and waves of the water several feet below.

The land was too insufferable, she thought. She used to be tired – of asking questions that couldn’t be answered. She had been tired of being tired. But now, she was perfectly fine. Tranquil. Brave. This…this was ataraxia. It was enlightenment, and she was at point zero. Void.

Sky.

Space.

Nothing.

She stretched her arms forward and shifted her weight delicately to the balls of her feet. She rocked. She leaped.

It was the most peaceful plunge that man had ever witnessed. Streamlined as she was, the impact barely made a sound. She went in like a sharp-edged dagger. The momentum she had gained took her lower and still lower.

She sank for too long before the panic returned, and she realised that she was in too deep. But this time…this time, it was too late.

-Akotowaa

Reality Shows’ Reality

A little Ghanaian girl gets home from school and rushes through her homework so she can watch TV. While her classmates are hooked on Tom and Jerry, or Phineas and Ferb, or some other cartoon which the world has clearly, repeatedly and accurately labelled as ‘fiction’, the aforementioned girl takes the DSTv remote and switches to E!.

After all, why should the random escapades of creatures who don’t really exist interest her, when there are actual people whose actual lives are filmed for the public to see? This is reality. That’s why they are called ‘reality shows’, isn’t it?

“Welcome to your favourite show, **fill in the blank** with your host **fill in the blank** where we tell you which celebrities are binge-spending their cash on random thousand-of-dollars-worth junk like **fill in the blank**.”

One cannot help but cast one’s mind back to the many times one has foregone a Christmas present from one’s parents, because the options were to keep the family fed or to spend money on an object one would use for a month and get bored of. No binge-spending in this family, for sure.

Next, tune in to “Rich Kids of **fill in the blank**, where ten-year-olds complain, “My Dad got me the iPad **fill in the model** plus the iPod **fill in the model** plus two-thousand dollars for the month…but the iPad had 64GB memory, instead of 128GB…I hate him. He never listens to me.”

Aforementioned little girl continues to stare at her LED TV screen, knowing that she is by no means poor, but this gift is a bit…much. She begins to notice that these kids are unrealistically bratty, and doubts the credibility of these ‘reality’ shows.

Mother comes home, and requests, “Come and wash the dishes, eh?”

Girl replies, “Mummy, Kylie Jenner is a teenager, and even she doesn’t wash dishes.”

Cue two sharp slaps across the face.

She washes the damn dishes.

Next day, repeat the homework-to-TV routine. This time, she wonders, “How are these shows benefiting my life?” She is unable to come up with a logical answer. She tries again, “What reason do I have to care about the affairs of these airhead celebrities who I am never going to meet?” No answer presents itself.

She switches from E! and proceeds to watch Phineas and Ferb, which actually makes her laugh, and before you know it, she’s coming up with crazy ideas of her own.

Years later, this girl is a famous cartoonist, whose show has been running successfully for three seasons. Reminiscing, she says to herself, “Aren’t you glad you didn’t rise to fame through a sex tape?”

 -Ivana

 

She Wanted Beauty

Forgive me for being a romantic utopian with this one. The truth of it is, I’ve been watching too many movies about failed/failing marriages on TV lately, and I need to believe that it’s not as bad as Hollywood makes it. Although I wrote this a few months ago, this is the reason I’ve just decided to post it.

——————————————-

Beauty did not come, as everyone always tried to make each other believe, from make-up and splendor. Beauty came from simplicity and nature, which happened to be exactly the two things that came to mind when he looked at his house, his life and his wife.

She read by the window, occasionally looking up and out of it at the beautiful country meadow that was their exaggerated “backyard.” She was so engrossed in the book that whenever she did look up from it, she was contemplating the events of it and analyzing every word, like the philosopher and discoverer she was.

On the weekends, you could hardly believe the life she led on the weekdays: always rushing about, having meetings with dozens of people, sketching designs and programming late into the night. During the weekends, she read, she stared, she blogged and devoted herself to loving life and loving her husband.

He remembered when she’d once told him: “I want to be beautiful. Not the kind of beautiful that comes from good looks alone. I want to be the kind of beautiful that recognizes beauty where it is. I want to look up at the sky and never forget the beauty of the moon or how much I love it. I want to look at the ground and think that dirt is not dirty but natural in the place where it belongs. I want to be the kind of beautiful who is beautiful every day right from the minute I wake up, simply because I fall in love every day with the things I do. People are beautiful when they evidently love what they have always loved.”

He had fallen in love with her then, because she hadn’t realized she was already the exact kind of person she wanted to be. What was there left to achieve? Success? A full life? She had them both. Loads of friends, many of them almost as smart as she was – she’d never settle for anything less. He was, himself, more of an introvert, but her friends were her friends, and his life was just as busy. His weekends were just as relaxed. And every weekend, he thanked his stars that he’d made the right choice. How was he supposed to have survived, having married anybody else? There was nobody as perfect.

She closed the book and looked at him, looking at her.

“Hi,” she said.

“Hey,” he responded.

She lay the book down and walked over to him. Putting her hands lightly on his shoulders, she kissed him, not wishing that she were anywhere else at this point in time. He was beautiful too, especially in the evidence that he loved dearly what he had always loved: herself.

-Akotowaa