It started slowly, the falling. At first I was flying, rising on gentle currents. The higher I went, the better the view. It was amazing. I could see everything.
There is something liberating about seeing the world below from great heights above. No sense of fear whatsoever. Drifting with the breeze.
I thought I was drifting. But I wasn’t just drifting. Was I?
I was falling. A knot in the pit of my stomach grew tighter. l fell faster. My insides were screaming. Slow down. Slow up.
I was flying so high that it shouldn’t matter. I couldn’t fall so far. Could I?
Sometimes in dreams I can fly.
In one recurring dream I am running, on a mesa cliff. It looks like the Grand Canyon, but isn’t. For some reason, not fully known to me, I run off the edge and the earth beneath my feet disappears.
I can’t breathe.
The sensation of falling takes my breath away. The rocky cliffs dive to a snaking river below. Terminal velocity forces air from my lungs. I can’t breathe. I CAN’T BREATHE.
Sometimes, in this dream, I fly. Air returns to my lungs like a drink of cool water on a hot day. I can feel it all the way down. These are good dreams.
Other times, I fall. This time, I’m falling.
Is it a dream? I’m not entirely sure. To be self aware and asleep is a conundrum I can not quite resolve.
I have heard it said that if you actually crash, or hit the ground in your dreams, you die. The reality of this moment is that the sensation of falling feels like death. Death would be a relief from the falling. To fall forever, fear tying each muscle into knotted searing cramps would be a torment worthy of Dante’s examination.
Yet the ground grows no closer. I open my eyes and see colors exploding in brilliance all around me. Then, one leaf falls, and another, and another and…
…they are gone. The sunset season has ended. Winter’s chill is close. I can feel it coming.
In this dream, I will open my eyes before the last leaf touches earth.