Picture yourself falling.
You are a figure drawn on a white sheet of paper. In each frame, your appendages flail in another awkward direction. Your head, which is a circle, lolls to and fro. A series of vertical lines extend from your body, as if to signify your downward descent. Frightening, yes, and panic shows across your face. The jacket you are wearing flares and hisses. It might be alive or it might be the wind. But since you are a simple line composition, these details are not sketched in: no rattling jacket, no face. And you still haven’t seen anything below you.
While you are falling, you begin to tell your life’s story.
* * *
John grew up and stopped feeling. When he speaks, his voice sounds like a cut-off sentence at the end of a grizzled record exhaling noiselessly over a gray day perpetuated by drizzle. He might smile. But I think he is elsewhere, hidden in the lyrics of those who have figured out how to express themselves. He sends them to me, those meaningless songs, late at night when his eyes are the most vacant. I wonder if it is truly possible to know another person. And if other people exist.
* * *
She says you will fall in love with her but you are unsure, perhaps you don’t care. The world is filled with falling people, how many will lurch in your direction. How many will land. Imagine this: the sky opens up and so many line figures are wrung from the clouds. Either the ground is rising swiftly to meet them or they are dropping away. Perspective, you say. Better to stay close to the ground, you think. Spend too much time hanging in the air, never know when you’ll come down.
* * *
I knew a John once, he was a boy then and during that brief yet tumultuous time, his heart burst with every emotion in acid bursts. Everything he felt bubbled outwards and danced in his eyes and sang on his lips. I watched the watercolors swirl on his face, greens, yellows, blues, pinks and violets, each mash of the painting tray more brilliant than the last. We watched and, in doing so, hoped the wind-up toy inside our chests might stir. When he cried, his tears came forth unabashed. He cried a lot. He laughed a lot. I don’t know what happened.