It was a long way down. She stood on the very peak of her home, finding it not at all odd to be there. Inside, her parents, brothers and sisters slept while she rode the wind. It was wonderful. Beautiful.
The sky was dark indigo, dotted wildly with brilliant stars. Her father liked to count them, lying on his back in the yard, staring up: One, two, three, four, five, six…one thousand fourteen, one thousand fifteen…
“Daddy, how far away are the stars?”
She smiled in the darkness. Daddy. He was so funny. “Durn it!” he would say. “You kids made me lose my count! I gotta start all over!” He never would say how far away the stars were.
She felt no fear. There was so much more to feel, touch and smell. The warm breeze fluffed her hair. A kiss of fragrance came off the honeysuckle vine at the corner. The neighbor’s house, quiet, absent the din of arguments heard during the day.
“Pay them no mind,” her mother would say. “It’s not our business.”
Whose business is it, she would wonder, but not ask.
Here, in this moment, she was sun and moon, no one around to tell her what to do or how to do it or why to do it. She was the power of now, calm and assured, not at all like her real self, fear-filled, tender of heart, shy, leggy and thin, no one special among her cute-as-buttons sisters and handsome athletic brothers.
“Handy as a pocket on a shirt,” Daddy would say. She was so desperate to please, she did what she was told and more. She didn’t like that about herself, but she couldn’t help it. If she wasn’t useful how would they know she existed?
She set the thought aside. Let there be no intrusion.
Suddenly her heartbeat accelerated. What trigger brought about the change? She didn’t know, but it swept over her, stealing her victory over mediocrity, taking her serenity. Tranquility fled, replaced by a racing heart and moaning wind. Her hair whipped around her angular face, her gown pressed against her legs.
“Jump,” the wind said. “Jump!”
“Jump, jump, jump,” the wind wailed.
Her breath quickened and her belly churned. Could she? If she jumped what would happen?
“I can’t! I can’t!”
“You can, you must! You cannot know who you are until you try!”
She closed her eyes and drew in a deep long breath as if by doing so she could make herself lighter, more buoyant. She spread her arms wide, leaned forward and jumped. As she did so, she opened her eyes taking in the arc of the sky and the distant horizon. The wind caught the sleeves of her gown and seemed to lift her and soften her descent. In no time at all, she was safely on the ground, her feet wet from the damp grass.
She awoke from the dream, safely in her bed, with the words echoing in her mind: You cannot know who you are until you try. For the girl, it was the beginning of who she would become.
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