Sitting. Just sitting. Not flying; not gliding; not surfing. Sitting. Out of date; overrated; boring. Sitting. On the city’s rim. My rocket clad feet dangling idly over the edge. My legs swing back in forth lazily in the steady wind. Electric blue flames lick the open air beneath my heels, tempting me to fly. But I am still busy. Thinking
Thinking. It’s as overrated as sitting. Why think when you can buy things that can think for you? But I like` thinking—and sitting. I like taking a break from the ultra high-speed pace of the city. Everyone buzzing around; this way and that. Just a million electric blue fireflies smeared across the skyline. Not that I (or anyone else) know what fireflies looked like anyway. But their name paints somewhat of a description in all our minds. But I prefer to not be one of those fireflies. I like walking. I like slow. I like old-fashioned.
Old-fashioned. Like my name. Dolly. Named after some silver haired, green eyed, strong willed woman whom I had never known. I wasn’t even sure that she was real. The only “proof” of her existence was a terribly pixilated image on some kind of macro thin piece of tree. The image showed her sitting in a large recliner with a slender, shimmering scintilla of metal in one hand and a white, circular cloth in the other. How my parents ever expected me to believe in an image so ridiculous is beyond me. I used to believe in it—when I was little I mean. I would sit with the little tree slice and talk to her. I mean really talk to her—like she was alive or something. I would sit by our “Safe Burn” fire when it was winter time and talk—
Whoosh—Thump. My memory is interrupted by a strong gust of wind slamming my torso down onto the hard metal that was the surface of the city. “Ow ow ow owwww…” No more thinking. No more sitting. No more slow. Rather than haul myself upright, I let the weight of the boots pull me off the edge; my back sliding painlessly over the smooth lip. I am falling now. The wind whips my amber hair around my head, making my cheeks sting. My heavy boots are dead weights pulling me toward the hillside. I still have time. And quiet. A few more seconds of quiet.
I pinch my earlobe, sending the digital data scrolling across my high pressure goggles. Time of impact and altitude streaming on the mini screens in front of my eyes. The fast changing information constantly updating. I wait, still steadily falling, for the altitude to read .5 kilometers. “Finally,” my whisper torn away by the howling winds surrounding me. I swivel the dial on my finger from “O”, for off, to “F” for full and immediately I am charging upwards in a series of flips and tumbles; heals over head. I wait until my dizziness seems to even shake my brain before I swivel the ring from “F” to “M”, for medium. As my whirling slows, a flash of red catches my eye. Whether it is above or below me is a mystery, but it is definitely there. And there is brown too, I notice as my spinning comes close to an end. An almost chocolaty color. Brown and red, somewhere around me. I feel my brow furrow as I try to concentrate—try to focus. The dizziness is making it very difficult. And then, without a warning, it’s gone. One moment there, and the next it has disappeared. The spinning has completely stopped, and it’s easier for me to right myself now—easier to focus. I search all around me, above and below, but the brown and red is nowhere to be found. Maybe it was never there to begin with. Perhaps it was a figment created by the all the dizziness. I don’t dwell on it for very long.
Blue flames are dancing across my entire body, trailing a cool feeling wherever it touches the exposed skin of my arms. I swipe the wispy flames away with my hand, scattering them into the open air. I flutter the jets, kicking my legs over my head so that I am vertical to the ground. I steadily descend toward the rolling green blanket bellow me. The sun is setting now, turning the sky into autumn leaves—the fiery ones I mean. The ones smeared with red and orange and yellow. Beautiful. An evening chill slices through the late summer blaze. The smart fibers of my one piece suit thicken and slink down to cover my exposed arms—adjusting to the sudden temperature change.
The daylight is quickly retreating and the lights of the ground mansions are beginning to shine, lighting up the hillside. I glide forward, the bright mansions streaming past me on either side. It’s quiet—for now. It won’t be later, when the parties begin. But for now it is quiet; the only noises are the low humming of my boots, the soft sigh of my own breathing, and the muted thump, thump, thump of my heart beating. I love the quiet. It gives me room to think, and breath, and hear my own hear beat. I flip onto my back so that I can look at the stars. The view is much better than it is in the city; the lights constantly gleaming throughout the night make it nearly impossible to see the sky at all. They are so beautiful. The stars. I wonder if any of them are still burning or if, as I am watching a breath of light from their past, they sit un-burning deep within the catacombs of space. They remain a beautiful mystery to me.
I don’t belong up there. In the hulking, ugly, blazing city. I don’t belong, and I know that. Then why is it that I stay? I loathe being around all the technology. Perpetually whirring. Relentlessly making harsh squawks and massive groans. It all makes the nature ugly. It destroys everything it touches. I can’t stay…can I?
* * *
Weird. Yeah, that’s the right way to describe her. Weird. A word that hardly anyone uses anymore. It’s not needed. Everyone’s the same—well, not everyone apparently. Maybe that’s why I’m so drawn to her. She’s repulsed by most of our technology and she shuns everything we all think is normal. She’s the only one I know who still actually sleeps. She says she likes the dreams. She says that it isn’t natural for people to be awake all the time. She doesn’t seem to understand that sleep really isn’t a necessity—not anymore. Not with all the technology we have…but, once again, she hates technology. I don’t understand her. I don’t understand why she has such an aversion to our lifestyle. Do I want to? She confuses me. Everything she does—everything she is confuses me. Even now as I am watching her, I am confused.
I have so many questions. Why is she sitting there on the very edge of the city? Why has she been doing so for almost two hours? What is she staring at? What is she thinking about?! All these questions swim inside my mind as I watch her. I push my shaggy brown hair out of my eyes, thinking. Thinking. It’s contagious. Like some kind of virus that feeds off of solitude. Hovering, watching a girl, for two hours can really do some strange things to a guy. Thinking was just a side effect; like cramping knees and heavy eyelids.
I’m waiting for the perfect moment to approach her, but I’m not sure such a moment exists. Maybe perfect moments never even existed in the first place. And there I go again! Thinking! I let out a deep sigh and push off the crystal building I’ve been hiding behind. I only make it two hover-steps before a large gust of wind smashes me against the smooth crystal structure. My shoulders crack against the wall, but all I hear is the sickening thud of her head as it smacks the city’s metal surface.
“Ow ow ow owwww…” she moans, drawing the last “w” out for a few seconds. I turn my attention away from her, focusing on peeling myself away from the shimmering office building. Once I deactivate my “Any Surface” magnets and am free of the magnetic tug, I sweep my eyes over to where Dolly is sitting just in time to see the last tangles of her auburn hair disappear over the edge. My heart stops. Oh no I think how hard did she hit her head? Is she unconscious? I take four huge hover-bounds and leap over the edge, pushing off the curved lip to propel myself forward. I see her. She’s falling; the weight of her boots carrying her down faster and faster. I swivel my ring from “H”, for hover, to “F” trying to close the distance between us. My fiery red smart pixel short sleeved shirt snaps around me in the wind as I race closer to her. As I close in, almost close enough to reach out to her, I notice something. The screens on her goggles are streaming data. They don’t just do that on their own. And her eyes are…open. That means that she is completely aware of her situation. So at any moment she could—It is at this moment that I realize the mistake I have made.
I halt my vertical nosedive, swinging my legs underneath me. With my jets still on “F” I propel myself upward, climbing back toward the city. I hope that I can get far enough away from her before she throws her jets on. If she had put her boots on full blast when I was as close as I had been, she would’ve crashed into me at almost eighty kilometers per hour. That would’ve been a very, very unpleasant surprise for the both of us.
I glance back over my shoulder in time to see her jets flare on and watch her catapult toward me in a whirlwind of somersaults. There is something almost elegant in her uncontrolled spins. It seems as though no movement is random, rather, all of her twists and flips have been carefully choreographed. I smile. I can’t help it. Not while staring at the look of sheer joy that paints her cheeks. But the look of joy is slowly being replaced by a look of puzzlement. Her tumbles are slowing now, and she seems to be craning her neck to look toward where I am. She is getting closer. I can see the questioning furrow between her eyes. It’s me. She sees me. I haven’t yet activated the smart pixels in my shirt. I pinch the bottom left corner of my shirt, sending the pixels rippling as they warm up. They ripple again, this time completely changing color. I stretch the fabric up and over my head so that my face and hair are totally covered. Now my fiery red shirt is the same light blue, stained with orange as the sky around me (and my already activated pants).
Her spinning slows, and then stops. She squints her eyes in my direction, then does a quick sweep across the sky around me. She proceeds to search the sky below her as well. She stares up at me again. I hold my breath. She does a small shrug to herself, as if she is content with my disappearance. The flames swirling around her body catch her attention. She bats them away with her hands. One moves toward me. I reach my hand out to it, but it fades away before it touches my finger tips. She kicks her legs over head so that her jets are facing me and does a slow, but steady, descent toward the rolling hills. I follow close behind her.
It is getting darker quickly; the pixels in my shirt ripple often, trying to keep up with the frequent color changes. It’s cold now too. I see the smart fibers of her one piece stretch down to cover her exposed forearms. I’m freezing, though. My shirt and pants only change color; they don’t really keep me warm. I speed after her, careful not to get too close. Where is she going? I wonder as I follow her past the mansions and toward the unoccupied hills. She stops abruptly and flips onto her back, facing the sky. I do the same. The stars are beautiful, sure, but they are nothing compared to our gleaming, shimmering city. Tiny shards of glass, versus a diamond. But she isn’t even looking at the city. The stars seem to entrance her, astound her even. They are just burning balls of gas, not technological miracles like our city is. She confuses me, she really does.
* * *
I sigh. It is a deep sigh. Full of thought and decision. I push my feet below me so that I am in a standing position. I have enough emergency food and water shrunken in the side compartment of my boots to last me a while. When I run out I’ll find more…somewhere. My boots still have a good amount of energy left. But I should save it. In case I ever decide to go back up to the city. But that’s O.K. I like walking. These boots are a little too heavy for walking though. I sit on the dew soaked grass and begin to take them off. I’m glad that the only way I could ever get them to fit right was to wear my old fashioned sneakers under them. I twist my ring to “0-G”, for zero gravity, so that I won’t have to carry their full weight. It’ll use some energy, but not too much. I latch them to my back with some of the spare “Any Surface” magnets I keep in the pocket of my one piece. Everything seems so…perfect. Like this was meant to happen. Like I was always supposed to leave.
I take one last fleeting look at the city. My first home. My only home. I return my eyes to the hills in front of me. Long, winding, everlasting, beautiful. Full of possibilities. I begin my journey with one step, my sneakers squishing softly in the wet grass. I really do like walking…
* * *
She lets out a deep, deep sigh. I wonder what it’s supposed to mean. Sighs can be interpreted so many different ways. She switches to a standing position. She is still thinking, I can tell. She is probably wondering what to tell her parents when they find out she has been down here, in the cold, for most of the night. What am I going to tell my parents? I wonder as I watch her. Still standing. Still thinking. Then, she does something strange. She sits. On the wet, frigid grass. She takes off one boot, then the other. She has sneakers under them. The old ones. The ones you use when you actually want to walk…on the ground. I guess she bought her boots big. They are pricy to replace so most people buy them big when they are younger and then stuff them with things so that their feet fit. But why is she taking them off? You can’t get up to the city without them—what is she doing now? She pulls magnets out of her pocket and sticks them to her boots and slaps her them onto her back. She definitely has them set to “0-G” otherwise she would be falling over from the weight. But what is she doing? Why does she need her boots strapped to her back?
She is rising now. The motion is so different than it was just moments ago. I can almost hear the strain of her muscles as she hauls herself up rather than letting the jets swing her legs under her with almost no effort at all. Her feet are planted on the cold, slippery, unforgiving earth rather than hovering a safe meter above. She is unmoving, rather than lightly swaying in the soft wind. She looks back toward the city, and at me. Her emerald eyes are steely and her expression is hard. She seems almost weathered. Her dark coppery hair swirls around her face, making her skin look unnaturally pale. I have never seen anyone look like that before. So cold. So empty. And as she turns her gaze away from our home, I can’t help but see the color return to her cheeks and the light return to her eyes.
I still don’t understand. I still don’t know what is going on. It is not until she takes her first step away from me that I realize what’s happening. And then a second. And a third. And she continues, step after step. With her back to the city—to me. I want to go with her—but not really. I want to follow her out over the hills and walk on the sopping grass with her—but I could never. I could never leave. I don’t want to. I like our compact society. I like the fast paced lifestyle I was raised in. I like who I am. I could never be with her—I realize that now. We’re just too…different. That’s what she is. She isn’t weird. She isn’t crazy. She’s just... different.
Created: Mar 02, 2014Kelcillo Document Media