I let my arms hang in the air as I stood at the edge of the world looking down into the horizon of clouds and sea that lay below me. A gust of air would climb the hill we stood upon, brush itself up against my body and nearly throw me back. I would stand my ground, standing tall like a statue overseeing the world and laugh as the wind subsided. I would hear the same laughter from Dayton who sat behind me, watching me as I let myself devour the sights of the world. Each cloud drifted slowly, and every wave ran up my ears as if I was swimming amongst its embrace. The grass beneath us tickled my legs and I couldn’t help but smile. I smiled so much that my cheeks were hurting. I began being lost in my elation, unable to remember that when the day ended, that when the sun finally hung below the horizon, that I would have to leave the edge of the world, and be buried in a coffin.
I was only reminded of this when I stared into the sun diving into dusk and when the edge of the world began losing its natural light. I noticed Dayton stand behind me, brushing himself off, and saying, “It’s almost time.” I smiled with my back towards him, let the air rush up against me again, and then turned my head to see him. He was wearing a white lab coat, his glasses missing, and his hands in his pockets, as the wind blew against him. He reminded me of my father, but he was nowhere as old as him. And I hadn’t seen my father when he was an adult, so Dayton only appeared to give off that fatherly vibe. I laughed at this. He would hit me if he knew I was thinking of him like that. I laughed, and I smiled, and I felt like crying, but the sun diving into dusk prevented me from so. It was illuminating from my back, and I smiled as I replied to Dayton, “I’ll wait until the end of the world.” He smiled back, let his hair hang in the wind, and walked to the edge of the world, peering over into the clouds without a care in the world, without fear that he would plunge into the ocean.
“It was scary at first huh?” He said, “You were shaking when you first came here. But look at you now.” I smiled.
“Were you afraid when you first came here?” I asked. He gave it some thought. I knew I wasn’t the first person Dayton was assigned to. Soon enough, he would take the role of the chief, he would oversee the operations and he would stop looking after patients like he had to me. He would stop being a caregiver, and that thought made me sad. But I was also happy knowing that I was his last patient, and I was happy that I got to see the edge of the world one last time.
“I think I was, actually. I think anyone would be. Being here, being in this world. It’s new, it’s different, you feel like you can do anything, and you can–” He said as he stood up. He sighed, and reached over to his face. I knew that it was his gesture of reminding himself that the body he wore in this world was not the same in the other. This was the only time he could have perfect eye sight. I told myself the same when I reached over to my legs and arms. My body felt light, it felt amazing. It felt alive.
“But the scariest part of this world,” Dayton said as he hung his head down into the ocean, “Is leaving it.” The wind brushed up again against me, sending me back and I let it this time. I laid on the grass with my arms outstretched as if I was painting a snow angel.
“When you bury me,” I began, “Will you be there? Until I’m all the way in the ground?”
“And when you’re done, you’ll finally be the chief right?”
“Only if you give me a good report,” he laughed. I laughed as well. The sun was finally setting over the horizon, and darkness pervaded us.
“It’s time,” he said. I nodded. There were no stars in this world. Even as darkness sunk all around us, there wasn’t a single light in the night sky. I didn’t want a star in this world. I asked them not to make one. I wanted this to be the edge of the world, and the end of the world. There was nothing more I wanted then just the hill we stood upon, the clouds and ocean below us, and the cool breeze.
“Can I have five more minutes?” I asked.
“One last time?” He said. I nodded. Dayton knew me well.
“Will you join me?” He reached over to his face again, and then laughed.
“Sure.” We set at the top of the edge of the world. I took a deep breath, began stretching my legs, and then planted myself facing down against the hill. Even though everything was dark, I knew that we would not fall, that we would not sink into a place we wouldn’t be able to find our way out of. I began counting down.
“One.” Then, I ran. I ran as fast as I could down the hill with Dayton to my side. I smiled and I laughed and although I felt my pulse racing, I knew that my real pulse was still. Although my legs were burning, I knew my real legs were broken. And although my chest was burning as I laughed my lungs down the hill, my real chest was frozen. My entire body was sinking into the clouds, and I ran as fast as I could, trying to run away from everything. But I was at the edge of the world, and no matter where I ran I would find myself back at the top. I counted five minutes in my head and stopped. It took a few moments for the system to recalibrate our positions, and when I got my bearings again, I looked over to see that we were still at the top of the hill, overlooking a darkened valley of cloud and ocean. Dayton came over to me, behind my shoulder, and said, “We have to go.”
“I know.” I responded. Dayton left first. I planned to have them force the equipment off of me. I knew it was selfish, and I knew it was dangerous for me, but I wanted to let the world sink into my mind one last time. I began feeling them unplug every sensor from my body. My legs went numb, and I fell to the grass. My arms limped, and fell to my side. And then, my vision began blurring as they began taking off the sensors that lead to my brain. I was glad that I got to see the edge of the world one last time.