The Mark of Insanity

When I first saw him at my grandmother’s funeral staring into the distance with a wistful disposition, I wondered if he was really human. The crowd had begun to subside and my parents were busy talking to the undertaker. It wasn’t that I was uninterested in my grandmother’s death, no, that would be quite inaccurate, and quite imprudent if I was. Rather, the stilt of the air in the cemetery, the orthodox grey clouds hanging over us, and the cry of the rain someplace beyond us made me want to get away from it all. That was all it was, I convinced myself, just the atmosphere, that foreboding, suffocating, atmosphere. I wanted nothing of it, and yet there was nothing but that strange boy in the distance, staring off into the cemetery with nothing but a white gown. He, in the midst of all the dark tones that surrounded the area, was a strange light, and yet, no one took notice of him.

“Are you here alone?” I asked as I walked towards him, breaking from all my relations. And yet, even they did not seem to notice or care that I had walked away, talking to some strange boy in the middle of a strange place where strange things happened. Truly, a strange world.

“…” I garnered no response, in fact, he hadn’t even looked up from his… Quandary. Yeah, that might have been how I would describe the situation. He wore a white gown, similar to that of hospital wear, and, his hair had been cut short. His eyes were black, unbelievably so, as if there existed nothing but a strange abyss in his gaze. I began to wonder if I really was losing my mind.

“What about you?” He suddenly asked, his voice seeming to lag behind his character. It was as if, the words reached my ears long after the movement of his mouth was made. His voice, that, of a young child, though, somber, and not elastic, not energetic. Well, he wasn’t that young, no, probably around fourteen? Not young at all.

“I’m with them,” I said as I pointed, “my grandmother just passed.” His eyes were unwavering, looking into the distance, somewhere I couldn’t hope to see.

“So you left?” I laughed at his inquiry, though, perhaps, that laughter was directed at myself.

“It wasn’t that I left. No, not at all. I’m just taking a break,” I answered.

“Taking a break?”

“Don’t you find that sometimes? That you just need a little break?”He seemed to honestly wonder my question, though, I couldn’t tell if it came off as such from the way he stared into space.

“…”

“What are you looking at?” I asked to the chagrin of his silence. Then, he turned, seeming to have just acknowledged I was there, a glimmer of what I thought to be surprise washed over him.

“Nothing in particular,” he answered, then, he began to walk off.

“Where are you going now?” I asked. It was strange, I didn’t know why I wanted to pursue him, but, the words came out of my mouth before I could think of it.

“Back to the hospital. Even you can tell, can’t you?” His voice rose near the end, an almost condescending tone. And, as he turned to leave the cemetery, my parents called. Though I was still interested in who he was, and, why he had been staring into space, I couldn’t let myself be too consumed into the abyss. I later asked my parents if they saw the boy I was talking to, but, they simply pegged me to be a jester. I wondered, if I really was going insane.

At least, I didn’t need to stay in that suffocating air for any longer. I was fine going insane if that was what I could avoid.

The next time I saw that strange boy was at the hospital. I had gone to visit my grandfather, who, at the cusp of his time, was about to join my grandmother. It had only been a week since her passing, and, although my family was still somewhere in the fourth stage of grief, they couldn’t let life pass them by for too long. And, even yet, when they were just about ready to see the light of day, something else had happened. So is life, I guess.

“Remember me?” I asked as I walked towards him. He was idling by, sitting on a bench beside a closed door. It wasn’t that I particularly remembered him, but, it was hard to forget. This time, he did look at me, acknowledged me, and then, turned back to looking into the wall opposite. He was a strange person, I concluded, the perfect semblance to my insanity, if I ever saw one. I almost laughed out loud.

“Well, even if you won’t talk, I will,” I continued. After all, I was still seeking someplace else than the stifling air of that hospital room. I wanted nothing of it, nothing of that depressing atmosphere. Not a single bit, no, it wasn’t that I was uninterested in my grandfather’s health. No. Surely not.

“I came here to visit my grandfather. You know, isn’t it strange that these things happen so close together? At least, I think it’s strange.” I chuckled. Maybe, I really was… No, if I keep mentioning it, it’d only get old.

“You’re not much of a talker huh? Not that I don’t respect that. Everyone needs a little bit of themselves every once in a while. Though I guess since I’m here you won’t even get that much, hah!” No comment.

“Seriously, I’m throwing you a bone here. What’s so interesting about the wall anyway?” It really did seem like he would form a hole in the wall if he continued to stare for any longer. His face was completely fixated towards whatever it was he was interested in, and, it didn’t seem like I was looking at a boy at all. He was like a doll. After a while, I felt bored, and so, just as I was about to up and leave, he talked.

“My friend,” he started, “she’s there.” He nudged his head to the closed door. Room twenty four, it was pitch black in there, and I began to reckon why he was sitting solemnly as he did.

“It’s not like I’m trying to ignore you, but, I really don’t feel like talking, okay?” He was still wearing his white gown. He wasn’t just visiting the hospital, he was a patient himself.

“Fair enough,” I answered.

“Besides, why me?”

“Why you?”

“Why did you decide to talk to me? Back then, and even now, what’s your angle?” I laughed, I couldn’t help but to laugh. In the distance, I could hear the sounds of footsteps, trolleys, and beeps. The hospital was lively, ironically.

“No angle,” I started, “no angle at all. Would you believe me?”

“Would I believe you?” There really was nothing to it, and, I made sure to have that show on my face, a relaxed expression, one of no contempt, since, I truly had none. I just wanted to get away from it all, and, if that meant having to indulge in a stranger’s wistful disposition, then so be it.

“You really are strange, miss.”

“September.”

“The month?”

“My name. It’s rude to just say ‘miss’ right?”

“What a strange name.”

“And it’s even ruder to say that.” I laughed, and, in the corner of his face, a smile began to form. It made him seem oddly human.

“What about you?” I asked. I didn’t bother to feel sensitive towards the subject. Maybe I should have.

“Me?”

“You know, why you’re here. Clearly, it’s for a whole different reason than I am.” But, in the end, I learned something from our exchange.

“I see. Well, you are right, I’m not here just to visit,” he started, “that much is obvious.” I smiled.

“In a few days, I’m going to try and save her.” His voice wisped about in the quiet hallway we sat. The noise of the lively hospital from a ways away from where we were began to dim, and, in the air around us, was another stifling atmosphere.

“Try?” I repeated.

“Well, even with the advent of medical technology,” he began to sound haughty, “things don’t always go your way. With one life, goes another.” Without needing him to get into any details, I begun to understand what he was getting at. Perhaps it was the tacit of the living, or the anathema in his face that gave it away.

“She your friend?” He looked, somewhere in the distance again, and, I wondered, if he was going to lose himself in his thoughts, but, he came back, looked me in the eyes, and with a strange conviction said, “Not at all.” A smile formed on his face, and he repeated himself, “She’s not a friend at all.” And, somewhere in his eyes, his dark eyes that seemed to expand upon the infinite abyss, I saw tears well up.

“And yet, you’d still save her?” He seemed bothered by that question, his face scrunching up, and a deep seeded concentration flushed his eyes. I began to understand him a little more, about the way he stared into the distance seeming to lose himself in the world around him. And, somewhere inside of me, some place I didn’t want to visit, knew exactly why he was there at the cemetery.

“Regrets?” I asked shrugging. His face didn’t contort, his will iron, and then everything was washed away when the door beside us opened, and, a girl clad in the same white gown he had stepped out. Her hair was unbelievably gold. She let the door hang behind her, and, it seemed like she was entering this world from another, from a world much too dark, much too empty for any human being. Her skin was fair, unbelievably so, and her expression was gentle. When she spoke, her voice was quiet, and, it seemed like it took everything out of her to even mutter a single word.

“How are you today, Ebb?” Her words, as they came out of her mouth, were like a trickle from a waterfall. The boy beside me, Ebb, nodded his head and smiled, a bright smile seemingly from the depths of his heart and replied, “I’m fine. How are you, Lot?”

“I’m feeling fine, better than ever, in fact.” It pained me to listen to her speak. It seemed as if she wanted to say the world to Ebb, and yet, everything about her prevented her from doing so.

“Who’s this?” She said, as if she had just noticed me.

“I’m September,” I said as I got up to shake her hand. She looked, for a few seconds, wondering what it was my hand was doing in front of her, or at least, that’s what I pegged her state of mind to have been. But, she eventually brought her hand up. I saw how much it struggled her to even do that much, and so, half way up, I simply extended further, shaking her hand, feeling its cold wrap around me and then retract. I couldn’t go any longer watching her push herself to simply lift her hands. That coldness in her palms, permeated to every crevice of my body, insuring that I would never forget how cold her hands were, and how weak her grip was.

“Are you a friend of Ebb?” She said, a faint and yet eloquent smile forming on her face. I looked over to make eye contact. I had no reason to lie to a stranger, nevertheless, someone as bed-ridden as her, and within Ebb’s eyes, was a certain confirmation I was hoping for.

“I am,” I lied.

“I see,” her voice trailed, “well, I’m glad that you’re here then. You must know about me, and… Our operation.” I hadn’t the slightest clue, but, I figured it would have been too mean to pry it out of her, and so, I said, “Right, but, should you really be up now?” She seemed to want to laugh, but, held it in, and instead, smiled.

“I’m fine, thank you,” she answered, “I really am. I feel like I can run a marathon.” She really did seem to want to laugh. And so, I laughed in her place.

“But, maybe I shouldn’t be this fine,” she continued, “after all, I’m still…Waiting.” She looked over to Ebb, who could only respond with a despondent expression of his own.

“You really should be resting,” Ebb suddenly said.

“I’m–”

“Please.” She yielded, a smile on her face, waved with as much strength as she could, and then, entered back into that world of dark. When the door closed, I could feel the energy from Ebb dissipate into the area. Not a single sound was emitted from our walk of the hospital, and, soon enough, the echoes of life came swirling in like a lion in march.

“Not friends, huh?” I poked fun at him.

“Hardly seems that way,” I added. He sighed, to which I responded with a playful smile. Though, the playful disposition only lasted till me, after all, I wanted nothing of that tense atmosphere. It wasn’t that I was uninterested in the matter… Yeah, you understand.

“We met when it was decided that I carry the operation,” he said, “that was, a month ago.”

“And let me guess, you’ve been visiting her every day since?” He looked at me, as if he wanted to dispute that, but then gave in and slouched, even more so somehow.

“What else could I do?”

“Live your life?” He turned his head, almost too quickly.

“Sorry, too soon,” I tried to play it off with a playful smile. Didn’t work, I think.

“You asked me about regrets,” he started, “If I had any.”

“Yeah, go ahead.”

“I don’t think I do. Is that weird?” At his age? Was it weird?

“If you lived a good life,” I started, “then, I think that’s perfectly fine. How about you? You live a good life?” He was what, the start of high school?

“I don’t know. I can’t say, but… I had fun.” No. I couldn’t criticize him. High school. That’s as old as they make you. Then, from there, you’re on your own.

“You had fun?”

“Yeah. I had a lot of fun, with a lot of people.” His voice seemed to waver, a strange cadence, though, for his situation, perhaps, it was well suited.

“Then that’s fine. No regrets. That’s good, right?” I didn’t know what would compel such a person to give their life for another. That thought, that notion, was so alien to me that I really did wonder if my insanity, had all along, been passed onto this fated child. Though, that’s far too arrogant. After all, his insanity, no… His fate, would be what I would consider the fate of the world.        He held onto his world, and now, it sought to crumble, all to save a stranger. It was truly insane.

“But,” he suddenly started, “I wish, I could–”

“Live a little longer? To see them? To hang out with them?” He nodded, seeming to want to go back to his state of interminable reverie. The atmosphere had long forsaken me. I wanted to retire from that, and, my curiosity had been satiated. I got up, walked over to where the hallways converged, and then turned.

“When’s your operation?”

“A week.”

“You think you can do it?”

“I already–”

“No. I mean, everything you ever wanted to do, the things you see. A week, right? Think you can do it?” His eyes were wrought with confusion, and then, a swirling conviction. There was no way that he lived a life with no regrets. Even a child had regrets.

“And if I can’t?” This time I sighed.

“If you can’t. You’ll have regrets. You’ll hate yourself, maybe, your fate. Then, perhaps, if you’re feeling up to it, you’ll hate the girl, Lot, was it?”

“Charlotte.”

“You’ll hate Charlotte. Then, you’ll hate the hospital, the city, the country, and soon enough, you’ll be an adult. You’ll hate the world.”

“There’s no way that I can–”

“Get rid of all your regrets in a week?” I wasn’t planning on doing it either, but, no one could truly say they lived a life without regrets. What I wanted to tell Ebb wasn’t to do absolutely everything, no, instead, without needing to churn my head, I gave him the same advice I was given to me by my grandmother, and, without a stroke of coincidence, my grandfather.

“Then don’t. Don’t get rid of all your regrets.”

“But–”

“Instead, get rid of your best regrets.”

“My best regrets?”

“That’s right. If you have a hundred problems, just get rid of the top three.”

“Isn’t that just being lazy?”

“You said it yourself, right? One week? Most people can barely get out of their beds for a day. You came here every day? I’m sure you can shave off a few regrets in a week. Just the best ones. That’s all it takes.”

“But I’ll still have regrets, doesn’t that go against everything you just said?” Then, just like how my grandmother and my grandfather both answered my inquiry, I laughed, then, with as much swagger I could muster to break the mold in the air along with a smug smile, I said, “You can sit there regretting your entire life, and you’ll never get anything done. You’ll end up hating all the things I said. But, if you get a move on, you’ll take away some of that regret. Not all of it, but, if you get rid of the best regrets, I’m sure you’ll see that the world is just that much better.” Then, I walked away. That was all she said, and all he said. My grandparents left me to ponder upon what they meant. And, I think they’re right. After all, I live in a country that has a hospital, I live in a country that provides me with food upon walking into a huge storage container. I live in a country where I don’t fear bullets or bombs, or tyranny. I live in a country where I can be a person. And, all this country asks for, is a little bit of sense to try and be a decent person to be around. I live in an age where I can talk to a person across the world, where I can move faster than anybody in the past would have ever imagined. I can fly, I can see in the dark, I can capture the world with a finger. All that’s left, is myself, and, well, it’s me and seven billion others, but, not even all of those seven billion has the niceties that I’m provided by simply being born. And, the catch is, those living in poor conditions, are still human. Better yet, I’m still human. We’re the same race, and, inherently, by the pull of a string, by the roll of a die, my life, sad to say, is inherently better than some across the world, even some in my neighborhood. Now that’s the mark of insanity.

 

 

 

 

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Starlight

We thought we were immortal. The air surrounded us, winter creeping into our arms. Our steps echoed in the low light of the stairs. Her pulse grew the closer we got. I turned once to see her eyes in a brilliant glean. The air’s ballad mixed with our steps as we stood in front of the rusted door.  Winter slept in the steel platform draining itself into the soles of our feet as our bodies converged in irregular panting. I tightened my grip. She winced, and her pulse lowered. The cracks of the doors exhaled ash and fuel. Everything came together in the sky. I remember how we first met. We were both trying to fly. We thought we were immortal.

Her dress fluttered in the wind. A thousand frills accompanied a thousand sirens as we came to the edge of the roof. It was barren save for our naive steps. Her hair fluttered with the winds that rose through the building. I wasn’t quite sure how we both failed to fly that day. But when I opened my eyes, I was greeted by a world of white and the soft pulse of her hands over mine. The beeping of that world filled my mind as I closed my eyes. In the distance, was the roaring of an airplane.

“Did you really have to wear something like that, June?” I asked as she twirled on the ledge, her foot nearly slipping. She laughed.

“You’re not complaining now are you, July?”  Her voice rasped into my ears with the gusts of the city. They merged like the lull of a crowd of wheels.

“I’m not. But it’s cold out here. I can’t help but be worried.” She smiled back as she paced on the ledge.

“I appreciate your worry. But I’m not the one who should be taking it.” She stopped in front of me, wrapping her arms around my neck. I felt her weight follow her back. We once thought of having a child name August. We were dumb back then. “This isn’t the first time we’ve done this.” Her smell was intoxicating. “But it really doesn’t change no matter how much I’m here. ” She turned her head back, peering into the streets. I shifted my feet in balance. I readied my arms. I stilled my breathing. The pulses that shot into my hands reminded me of the beating of her heart as she laid her head onto my chest. She wouldn’t let go, even after the doctors came. “This is where we belong.” She looked at me with a smile that paid the night. “Do you think they can see us?”

“Would you want them to see us?”

“I’d want them all to see us.”

“I always thought you were the embarrassed type.”  She laughed, her entire body forcing her way off the ledge. I braced harder onto the roof.

“I’d given that all away the first time we tried. Now I’m as free as a bird.”

“If only we could fly.”

“We will. We’re immortal. No matter how long it takes. We’ll fly.”

“No matter how long it takes you’ll still stay with me?” She pressed forward, lifting from the ledge into my embrace. Her warmth held me together until she pulled me towards the ledge. She came under my arm, pressing me forward towards the filled streets. The lights of the city all raced to find my mind.  In another motion she brought me back, the rush of the city all dispersed with the stars. They blinked like hospital screens.

“I’m here with you now, aren’t I?” Her breath barely reached the sky. “If we could only be stars, we’d already have everything we wanted.”

“If we were stars we wouldn’t be together like this.”

“And that’s fine too.” Beyond the stars were the moon that glittered like a watchful clock. Once filled it would espouse a new month. That’s what we did to pass the time. She would flutter my curtains when the doctors leave. Big dipper to Polaris. Polaris to Little Dipper. She would rave on about all the darkened sea. We would do so until the moon became full.

“If we were stars,” she continued, “we’d be able to die together, without fail.” Her voice lulled into my mind. Her arms brought me back to the ledge. We stood arms in tow, letting the brunt of the city remember our every crevice. “Are we the rulers of the world yet?”

“Not yet. Not even close.” I felt her pulse ring softly. My heart began to follow.

“We’re immortal and yet we can’t even rule the world. What more than to plant our mark when we can.” She laughed.

“It’ll take a little more than just that to make our marks.”

“What do you have in mind for two immortals to be remembered?” I shook my head and let the city swallow me for a moment.

“The stars?” She asked with her hand facing the building opposite.

“That’s right. We have to reach the stars. And once we land, we’ll be the rulers of the world.” She let out a breath that lingered in the air until our next words.

“How long would that take?”

“With just the two of us? It’ll take us a million years.”

“Then I’ll wait a million years for us to touch the stars.”

“You won’t get bored?” She shook her head.

“Do you think we’ll always be together like this?” She asked. Her pulse shifted. That happened once in hospital. The monitor jumped when her warmth left me.

“We’re immortal. Of course we’ll be together.” She pressed her foot forward, hanging it on the collected airs of the city.

“They all seem so small. Everything about the city doesn’t seem so scary anymore. It’s like we’ve become the stars. We can die together like this, even if that is the only time we’ll be together.”

“We’re lightless stars.”

“If we’re lightless stars, then no one will ever know we exist.” I shook my head.

“It just means that we’d have died a long time ago. Eventually, even our lights would have reached the Earth. And eventually, even our stories will be told.” Her eyes glistened in empty flashes.

“In that case, we can’t leave each other. Those hundred years will be so lonely otherwise. It’s good that we’re immortal.” Her grip tightened. Her dress fluttered with the city. I closed my eyes and let the air of the roof swirl into my mind.  We thought we were immortal.

Half A Dollar

There was a time in my youth where I was given half a dollar. The sun was shining on my face, beating against my skin, melting it like ice. I could feel every fabric of my being waiting to be washed away in the heat. And so, I decided, with my youthful discretion, to make my way to the coldest place in the town, the ice cream store. However, just being in the mere presence of the cold air that sifted in that building would not suffice my youthful nature. I had to buy something. But I didn’t have allowance, and carried with me only a single dollar. I wasn’t so far off that I needed to start a charity, but the cheapest thing I could buy was a popsicle at a dollar fifty. I wasn’t one to be frugal, but I just didn’t have money. I’m convinced now that being poor was a novelty of youth.

And so.

I asked my grandmother if I could have fifty cents. I held out my hands with the largest smile I could muster, and my grandmother complied.

“Here you go,” she said as she placed the coin in my open hand. It wasn’t until I was half way down the street that I realized what she gave me.

“Half a dollar,” I said to myself in the scorching heat. She had given me half a dollar. In what I could only imagine as my brain melting from heat, I pinched myself, and looked in my hand again. There it was. Half a dollar coin. She had given me half a loonie. Quite literally, when I had asked her for fifty cents, she had complied in the strangest of ways. Half a loonie would amount to fifty cents, after all, that was what half a dollar meant, half its value, fifty cents. But, I wasn’t too sure, even as a kid, if giving the counter a full dollar and half a dollar coin would work. Surely only a child would think up that arcane logic, and surely only a child would attempt it. However, I was already half way down the street towards the ice cream store, and I surmised it would take more out of me to walk up the hill then just continue down towards an already cold building. My home suffered, for lack of better word, a curse that didn’t allow it to be cooled under the summer heat. Or so that was what I convinced myself.

It was a work of marvel, that half-loonie. It was nothing I had ever seen, and still nothing I have ever seen. It was half a coin so finely cut in the middle that I would beg to wonder if that meant its value was also cut in half. I wondered if that half a dollar was actually a work of a time long past the one I lived in. My childish demeanor traveled to all sorts of leaps of fancy as I began envisioning a place where half coins existed all over the world. Where if a man needed two dollars and fifty cents, he would produce a five dollar bill cut perfectly in half.

I began to live in that old timey world, a world I knew nothing about, still know nothing about, but dote at the idea of. This is a story of a time I received half a dollar.

The streets began to lose its luster. I imagined the world a generation past, to be a world of rust. And so, as I was half way down the street towards the ice cream store, the streets became ragged. Cracks and unfilled cement began pouring out of the ground. The trees began to wilt, and the grass was a muddy brown. I had some sense in me to know that the past, in all of its history books and pictures, weren’t a place devoid of color.

When I looked up into the sky, the azure that covered the planet became grey to match the dirty walkway. Eventually, the cars that passed me by turned into the old cars I saw in pictures. Carriages. They turned into carriages with horses drawing them. I imagined the wheels turning on the street, and the engines turned into the top of factories. The streets became my own paradise of half a dollar.

I imagined the bustle of newspaper boys yelling into the heart of the street, of a group of shoe shiners by the barber and of the peddlers with long coats. Even as the townsfolk began pouring out to watch their lawns or bask in the heat of the sun, I imagined them to have frilly dresses and suits and I answered them in a strange accent that I can only recall in retrospect to be absolutely horrid.

“ello ol’chap,” I would say to the man who lived in 23. He would laugh and pat my head, “Let me guess. Today, you’re in old time London.” Back then, I was fixated with the accents of Britain. Though, being a kid, I didn’t know whether I was accurate or not. At least, people didn’t seem to mind, since I was a kid.

“G’day to you mate!” I would say to the man who lived in 34. He wasn’t much of a talker, and so he just waved. I’m sure everyone in the street was in on my antics from a mile away. I was just that kind of kid. Or maybe, that was the kind of insurance everyone understood. I was just a kid.

“Hey what’re you doing Aid?” I hated that nickname. Or at least, I hate it now. Though, I guess for childish nicknames, it was a valiant effort. I wonder how I would have shortened Adrian.

“I’m makin my way to the parlor, care to join me mate?” His confused look was well granted. He didn’t end up coming, he had plans with the other kids that day.

When I had finally gotten to the ice cream store and opened the door, signaling the chimes to resound, I was taken aback to the present. Everything gained its color. I lost my accent. And I clutched my dollar and half, wondering if it was going to work. The lady at the counter smiled when I looked up, barely being able to stretch my arms to the counter. I asked her for a popsicle. Strawberry. She got one from the freezer, and when she handed it to me, I took a deep breath and placed the two coins onto the counter. I closed my eyes, as if that would hide my presence and likewise, the fact that I had given her half a coin. Closing my eyes was a novelty.

When she said nothing and simply smiled at me, I was astounded. I had given the counter a dollar and a half, half a coin, half a loonie. My childish demeanor became like a light bulb and I stormed out of the store with the popsicle in hand, washing away the heat with my energy as I bolted up towards my home.

I was half way back home, with half my popsicle finished, when I began to wonder about why the half dollar coin was decommissioned. I began formulating all kinds of whimsical situations and questions for my grandmother. My world began shaping, into a time long past, in a time when the half dollar began to fade out, when people wanted currency uncut. This was a story of a time my grandmother gave me half a dollar.

Night Sky

When I was a kid, I dreamt that I would one day touch the clouds. I dreamt that I would be among the stars, floating in a sea of air, and wrapping myself in the atmosphere, lost in a world I could hardly imagine. When I was a kid, that was all that mattered, the stars, the skies, the clouds, everything up above that was impossible to reach from the ground. When I was a kid, I firmly believed that adults could do anything, that, if they just tried hard enough, even a kid like me could have been up there with the clouds.

I don’t know what it was about the sky that made me so engrossed. I don’t know what it was about the clouds, or the stars, that made me want to reach for them. They shimmered in the night, they stood floating aimlessly in the day, and, somewhere among that, was where I wanted to be. It’s a childish distinction, isn’t it? The hallmark of youth, to dream. The sky looked vast, un-traversable to my glassy eyes, and even now, looking up into the sky, it still looks like the limit.

If I had told myself twenty years ago that I would one day be among the clouds, I think I would have jumped for the moon. Although it wasn’t exactly the same thing, I peeled over the cover of the window, and peeked through the darkened glass, looking into the clouds below, and closing my eyes as I drifted in the sky, travelling to another world.

The moon light sifted in, and I heard shuffling from beside me. Her eyes peered open for a second, and I smiled.

“Did I wake you?” She shook her head slowly in her seat. Her breath was slow, and I could see from the dying rose on her lips that she was still tired. Her hair fluttered in her face, and I smiled and reached over to brush it off.

“Thank you,” she muttered as she slowly opened her eyes. Despite the dark of the cabin, I could still see myself reflected in her eyes, my long hair draping over me and blending with the moonlight.

“Can’t sleep?” She asked. I shook my head, and turned towards the window, beckoning her to look as well.

“We’re in the sky,” I began, “somewhere in the clouds, just floating. Isn’t that amazing?” She looked at me like I was on something, but smiled and giggled.

“You’re talking about that right?” I nodded and watched as the clouds slowly drifted out of my view, and new clouds took their place. I smiled as the moonlight and starlight beamed into the night sky. I smiled as I had still yet to be among the stars. I smiled knowing that I could never truly satisfy my childish cravings.

“Rightly so. Isn’t it amazing?” I answered.

“Do you think it’s amazing?” Her voice was like a low hum in the darkness, followed by the hum of the engines and the cutting of wind.

“I do. Humans were never meant to fly, we were never meant to soar in the sky and be able to stay like this for as long as we want.”

“We were never meant to do a lot of things. And yet, flying has always been your thing. You’d pester me about it all the time. Wanting to be in the sky.”

“Even now, I can hardly believe it. We’re in the sky, with the clouds, doing it effortlessly. Adults really can do everything, can’t they?” She smiled and gave me a questioning look.

“You make it sound as if you’re not an adult.” I laughed at that.

“I may very well be. We may very well be. But in the end, we’d always be children, right?” She nodded, “We’d be the biggest children in the entire world.”

“The biggest children floating in the sky.”

“The biggest children shooting for the stars.”

“Do you think we’ll ever get there?” She paused.

“You’re still dreaming, aren’t you?” She asked. I looked from the window to the seat in front of me, the darkness slowly enveloping all sight. I stretched my hands in front of me, wondering if I stretched hard enough whether I could go from the sky to the stars.

“My childish dreams will always just be that. Isn’t that for the better?” I answered. I felt her warmth beside me. She enclosed her hands with mine.

“You’re cold.”

“I didn’t think my hands would be–”

“You’re cold.” I smiled and looked at the seat in front of us as she gave me a worrying look.

“You’re still dreaming, aren’t you?” She asked again. I sighed. The night sky beside me, the clouds below me, and the stars above me. It was unbelievable. I could reach out and touch the clouds if I wanted, I could fall into the Earth, float in the atmosphere without a care in the world. But if I jumped, I wouldn’t ever be able to jump high enough to touch the stars. And even if I did, I would be lost in space, swallowed up by a darkness I couldn’t understand.

“I guess I still am.”

“Are you?” Her eyes locked onto mine, unchanging, unable to let go. I hated this about her, and at the same time, I was glad she was like that. She always strung me along, and even in the chance that I brought her up into the air with me, to see the atmosphere and to breath in the clouds, she would always be like that. I was in her debt.

“I am.” Her hand’s warmth became familiar in a matter of seconds, and I could see her eyes calm.

“That’s good then,” but her eyes wouldn’t leave mine, “keep dreaming. And never stop. Okay?”

“Even if I may not be able to reach the stars?”

“Even if you won’t, it’s still nice, isn’t it? To have a dream like that. An unobtainable dream, but a dream that’s just a childish wish. Isn’t that nice?” Even in the darkness, I could still see myself reflected in her eyes.

“Is it nice?”

“I think so.”

“Why’s that?” She hummed in silence before answering.

“Probably the same reason why you think it’s amazing to fly.”

“Isn’t that just sad?”

“Why do you think so?” Even in the darkness, I could still make out her hand, and I could still make out the strands of hair that instinctively fell to her face.

“Isn’t it that only you think it’s sad?” She said, her voice filling in the darkness around us. I reached over to brush off the strands of hair picking at her face, and she giggled and thanked me, leaning over to my shoulder.

“Maybe,” I said in passing, “maybe you’re right.” She looked over, reached her hand, and brushed off strands of my hair. I hadn’t even noticed.

“Can you see better now?”

“Yeah.”

“It isn’t that bad to have a dream. Even if you think it’s sad. Even if it does end up being sad. It’s not bad. Most people can’t. So, if you can, keep it, and hold onto it.” I looked over at her. Her eyes were resting. I smiled, and let one hand over her head, silently patting her.

“The night sky is full tonight.”

“What might it be full with?”

“The sounds of sirens, the sounds of wheels, and the sound of a million hearts in silent beat. But maybe, it might just be the sound of this plane.” I smiled and closed my eyes to sleep.