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Jeremy R. Benjamin
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On a world devastated by geological calamity, a young woman comes of age in a land where nobody has a name. Awakening in captivity, she recalls hushed whispers of disappearances associated with a clandestine movement. Being groomed for a ritual that will seal her fate, she faces the ultimate challenge.
Iâ€™ll close my eyes, she thought.
Her eyes would not close.
She felt a tickling sensation on the insides of her eyelids, and the only way to scratch it was to look down periodically. At this height, the wind was a fine spray, and it tickled not unpleasantly. The air did not exert pressure on her, but seemed to be harvesting something from her body like ants hauling off morsels of lunch from the picnic blanket. Whatever it was inside her that had killed several men, jumped out the window of a speeding train, scrambled through squalid alleyways, and raced up sixty flights of stairs over the course of the past two hours, it was escaping her a little with each shiver. That was somebody else--she could not have done those things, any more than she could summon blood to the muscles that operated her pupils. Besides, there was no reason to look down. How did she get here? It didnâ€™t matter. She still had no name.
In the span of time it took her to catch her breath, take her shoes off and walk down an imaginary aisle to where she now stood, the plan--if sheâ€™d had one at all--ceased to matter, and an empty euphoria now filled her. This was the literal edge of the world, was it not? This was not a personal summit, not a metaphorical anything. This was it. In a moment of giddiness, she envisioned her life as a rapidly forming ocean bursting through a dam, branching into rivulets and converging again in her adolescence, eroding layers of bedrock and expanding to its full potential only to drop off into a sudden unknown. Keeping her eyes open seemed significant somehow, as though it were an act of defiance. She had already defied authority, defied any cultural or physical disadvantages associated with her sex, defied all manner of social structure, defied locked doors, defied glass windows, defied she was pretty sure gravity; the only thing left to defy was that which she was not ready to see.
The wave of emotion that had chased her through the streets and up the stairs now caught up to her in a converged flood. She wept, reduced to the question every child asks, a question of pure submission; now what? Now, she could keep her eyes open, thatâ€™s what. Jumping was not so much a viable option as a... what? An indulgence? A fantasy? A philosophy? A means to reality? Reality was down, and down did not exist so long as she did not look. Even so, seeing wouldnâ€™t mean grasping it, grasping it didnâ€™t mean believing it, and believing it would yield no advantage. Jumping was not so much a considerations as... she was going to jump. But not yet; her toes were numb. She would have to get some blood circulating to them.
Her lungs inflated like epicures at a feast, respiring so rapidly that her ribs ached. Her diaphragm seemed to have gotten the impression that air was illegal and the police were on their way. Standing rigidly at the tip of the unfenced concrete border, she relished a moment of self-pity, but could not find the inspiration to sustain it.
Think; now what? There was nowhere to go, and there was no when to go there, and neither was there anywhere or any whence to stay, and that was perfectly okay. She couldnâ€™t remember what deity was en vogue this week, or what article of clothing was the new hype, or the current political state of the world, but at this height none of that mattered. The world before her was no less discomposed than she was; if she was preparing to jump and plummet into that world, to romantically collide with it, then it would meet her half way. The entire landscape was perched at a metaphysical cliff of its own, trembling and daring itself to dive into her. She continued to look straight ahead.
Jeremy Benjamin resides in Ithaca, New York and works as a mechanical draftsman. He has a B.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Southern California.
Book Publisher: Wings e Press
No. of Pages: 244
Paper Weight (lb): 10.4
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