I was floating.
I had been walking on the sidewalk in front of Jenny and Micah, one foot in front of the other, but now I wasn’t. I was still moving, but my feet weren’t touching the ground. I was flying, sort of, and somehow they hadn’t noticed.
“Jenny!” She stopped her conversation with Micah. They talked a lot.
“What’s up, Donny?” She was blind. Not really, but, like, did she not see what was happening?
“I’m flying!” I pointed down at my feet. “My feet aren’t touching the ground!” It actually probably wasn’t very impressive. Slowly floating an inch above the ground is hardly soaring through the air.
“Oh, yeah, that’s really cool, Donny! I didn’t know you could do that.” She smiled at me, but then turned back to Micah, who was obviously not impressed by my exploit. Suddenly my feet caught on a raised crack in the sidewalk and I stumbled and fell backwards from the sudden landing.
“Donny!” My sister rushed over to me. “Are you okay?”
“Yeah, I’m fine. Just a rough landing.”
“Are you sure? No bruises or anything? Mom would kill me.”
“I’m fine, promise.” My elbow was definitely bruised. More importantly though, I wasn’t sure how to start flying again. I brushed myself off and we resumed walking home. I thought about it as we walked, and it seemed like that wasn’t the first time I’d ever floated like that. I think I’d done so in the past. Maybe that’s why Jenny and Micah weren’t impressed. But if I did it in the past, and did it just then, I could do it again.
I looked down at my feet as we walked, watching out for more cracks, but also trying to figure out if there had been a certain motion or position I put my feet in. What about this? Nope, almost fell again. I tried a little double-step and hop, and then I was floating again, just like before. Huh, it was actually really easy to do! I was still barely off the ground, and that wasn’t nearly high enough. How do I get higher? Then I sort of willed myself to be lighter, rise in the air, and it actually worked! I slowly rose and rose, until my feet were about level with Jenny’s head. I twisted in the air and looked down at them.
“Jenny! I’m really high now!”
She smiled at me again. “Wow, you really are high, Donny. That’s amazing.”
“Micah?” I didn’t talk to him much, but I thought this was something that might finally impress him.
“Yeah, no, that’s really cool, Donny. I sure can’t fly, wow.”
That was something at least. I twisted again and looked around me. Everything was weird from this angle. I was even with the tree branches and could see some cute little white pearls in a low-hanging bird’s nest. There was green grass in the lawns and little gray anthills. The ants looked like ants from where I was. I turned back around and could even see my house. But that meant we were almost home. I descended slowly, a little sad the walk was over.
Later on, in my room, I decided I was going to show Jenny what I could really do. I grabbed my phone and went outside. I started floating nearly instantly; I was getting better at it. I took out my phone, held it in front of me and started to film what I was doing. I rose and rose and rose into the air, finally saw the tops of the trees and even saw the roof of my house. I was still moving too slowly. I tilted slightly and started to fall forward, gaining speed. Just before I hit the ground, I swooped upwards and back into the air, but I misjudged and flew through the branches of the tree in our front yard. I paused a moment to brush them off me, then continued flying.
I swooped and swooped, only dropping my phone once when I accidentally bumped into the side of the house. I thought maybe I might be making too much noise and would get caught by my mom, but luckily she never heard me. I continued flying. I never went too far from the house, but I weaved in and out of the trees, soaring down fast, turning sharp around a tree trunk at super speed and swooping back up into the air just to come back down again and narrowly dive between our two cars. It was awesome! I couldn’t wait to show Jenny. Eventually my phone told me it was running low on storage and so I headed back down to the ground. My arm was getting tired of holding it up anyway.
I ran into Jenny’s room. Micah had left earlier, so I couldn’t show him, but that was okay. Jenny would tell him how great it was. She looked up when I ran in.
“What’s up, Donny?”
“I wanted to show you what I just did. I filmed it.” I waved my phone in the air at her.
“Were you flying again?”
“Yeah! How did you know?” Had she seen me doing it? That ruined the surprise.
“I thought I heard some flying sounds, figured that’s what you might be up to.” She grinned, then sat on the bed and motioned me to join her. “Well, show me your flying. I want to see it.”
I sat next to her and held up the phone so both of us could see it. I ignored the games on it, started up the most recent video I took, excited to show it to her.
The first thing I saw was my face over the phone. Then there was some fumbling, the view switched to the other side of the phone and the video came back into focus. There were trees, and grass, and the blue of a sky, but they weren’t like I remembered it. They weren’t like I remembered it at all. They were fake. I watched as the phone swooped into green felt and up at the last second. There was a brief glimpse of blue-painted cardboard walls and the white popcorn ceiling of my room before the phone knocked over a plastic tree. I watched my own hand prop it back up, and then the phone was flying again. There were the little plastic feet of a toy in the bottom of the screen.
The phone zoomed back and forth in between plastic trees, down close to the felt and near the blue cardboard walls and back again, around and around the house. There was a loud clunk when it crashed against the house and dropped and I heard myself say, “Oops.” I looked over at Jenny. She was smiling watching it. She noticed my gaze and looked up at me.
“That’s really cool, Donny. You’ve gotten really good at flying.”
I wasn’t sure what to say. That wasn’t flying. She should know that. That was a phone held against a toy in a diorama. That wasn’t flying. That wasn’t me.
“Donny? You okay?”
“That wasn’t flying.”
“Yeah, sure it was. I just watched you fly all over the yard.”
“No, you didn’t. That was a toy. A toy in a diorama.” She didn’t get it. I didn’t get it. I stopped the video and dropped my arm with a plop into my lap. My arm was tired.
“Sure it was, but it was still really cool.” She hadn’t stopped smiling. “I thought that was one of your best videos yet.”
I didn’t say anything, just stood up slowly. I walked out of her room, away from that video. I headed back to my room.
“Thanks for showing me, Donny!”
Flying wasn’t real. Jenny wasn’t real. I wasn’t real. Nothing was real. I tried hopping in the hallway; I didn’t float. Was the hallway real? In the bedroom, I grabbed the doll and looked at it. It wasn’t real; it was plastic. The whole world was plastic.
I placed the doll back into the diorama of my house, my yard. I started moving my doll around in it, back and forth. It was a doll. In a diorama. But it was fun to pretend. It flew up and around the trees, around the house. It rose in the air, almost to the edge of the sky, and then plunged back down, moving at superspeed just above the green grass. It looked like fun. I wished it was me.