Friday, October 17, 2014

What a World

       The skydiving lesson was a gift from my father for my 30th birthday. He claimed that now that I had reached thirty, it was time I “lived a little”. I never could understand how my brothers “lived” in my father’s eyes, though. My oldest brother was a neurologist, but the rest of the family joked he was brainless himself, for he never could seem to grasp the daily tasks the rest of us faced. Instead, an endless supply of servants living with him and his wife did everything for him. My middle brother, though a very successful accountant, had been diagnosed with a minor case of autism at age five, and it manifested in his emotions: it seemed he had none at all. He came off as odd and robotic in his relationships with other people, but it was just the way he was. He had even been called “heartless” by a past girlfriend due to his calculating way of approaching their relationship. Despite this, his numerical ways were huge benefits in his career, at which he excelled. My youngest brother was the hardest to deem “living a little” in my eyes. He had serious confidence issues, and these drove him to be afraid of any human contact. He was always the one of us to shrink away from adventure as kids, always being so afraid of failing he would refuse to do anything. It was like he didn’t have any courage at all, where he fared poorly on the small farm in Kansas where we grew up. This had hurt him particularly hard when he was an adult, and he had been reduced to living with my father and my stepmother, even though he was now twenty-three years old and had not gone to college. How were any of them living?


I had brought this information to my father when we had had our weekly lunch at Marvel’s Café. The weekly lunches at Marvel’s had been his idea, again. After the death of my mother, to whom I had been particularly close; my father was trying to make an effort to be close with his children, especially me, his only daughter. Growing up, our father worked so long on our farm that by the time in the late afternoon when he was finished, he was so tired he fell asleep instantly, never saying a word to us. As we grew up we all four helped, but never to the extent he had every day. So he wanted to spend time with us, and since I lived close (and not with him) we often met.

“I’m glad you could meet me today, Dot.” he had said. Dot was his nickname for me, which was short for my first name. Only my daddy could call me Dot, and only he ever would.

“Of course, Daddy. Don’t I always, at least once a week?”

“You do, but today is important. I really needed to talk to you.”

My mood instantly changed. My father was, when he wasn’t working, a very jovial man. The look on his face, however, had been different than the smiling old man he usually was. Whatever information he had to tell me, this was serious.

            “What is it, Daddy?” I asked.

            “Well, Zeke bit Effie last week…” he began, but I already knew the rest. Zeke was the last remaining of the three Cairn Terriers we had owned, which we had all adopted from a neighbor upon their birth. The other two, Hunk and Hickory, had since passed, but Zeke was still alive, but old. Apparently, he had bit my father’s second wife (and our stepmother) Effie, and she wanted to have him put down, claiming he was a menace. I thought the idea was ludicrous, he would be thirteen soon, and would die soon.

            “What the hell is wrong with that wicked bitch?”


            “No, Dad. This is wrong. She can’t barge in and demand the dog we’ve had since he was a week old be killed. How long have you two been married? Since April? That’s four months, Dad. Effie does not have any authority to do so.”

            My dad sat quietly for a moment, in what I assumed was thought.

            “I’ll do my best, darlin’.” my father said in his perfect Southern drawl. I knew that my father meant what he said, but the wicked bitch might just have her say after all, she usually did since their marriage.

            Shortly after, my father called me and told me that Effie refused to keep Zeke. He asked me to take him, but I couldn’t have pets at my apartment. The following day, when Effie was out shopping, I arrived at my father’s house and, with his permission, took Zeke. I told my father I would find a way to keep Zeke, even if it meant leaving my cramped apartment.


            After the skydiving lesson was over and I had been fitted for a suit, my instructor and I took the long descent up into the clouds, leaving the familiar Kansas ground I knew so well, leaving behind the drama of my personal life.

            “It’s supposed to be a beautiful day today…a perfect day for you to dive!” my instructor screamed over the roar of the plane. We were quickly approaching the diving point.

            “Great! I can’t wait!” I screamed back, fidgeting with my ponytail in anticipation. I didn’t look out of the plane at all, instead focusing on my bright red running shoes the entire time, which were clicking together with help from my feet.

            The point arrived closer than I thought, and soon, my instructor told me to prepare myself.

            It was no time that I was plummeting towards the familiar ground again. What if I didn’t want to go back down? What if I could just leave and go to a simpler place without my family, just Zeke and I?

            The parachute clung to my back, unopened and barely noticeable. I was screaming, not in fear, but in exhilaration. The air felt good; fresh.

            Remembering my training, I prepared to pull the parachute, as I was getting closer and closer to the ground. I pulled the cord, but instead of going down, I found myself going up. I was going higher and higher up…where was I going? How could I stop? Was I going to die? The air began changing, becoming lighter and lighter with every inch I took, and breathing became a struggle. I was relieved when the parachute finally performed its intended operation, and I began falling towards the ground instead of away from it.

            Landing in a field, I noticed that the Kansas I had landed in what very different from the one I had taken off from.

            A beautiful emerald castle sat just on the horizon, very far away. Fields and fields of flowers sat in perfect rows along the path I now stood on, with a thick forest on one side, leading into darkness in the west. The path itself was very different. Once a paved asphalt, it was now of a yellow brick.

            “I don’t think I’m in Kansas anymore…” I found myself mumbling aloud.

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