The absolute suckiest thing that can happen to a fat girl is to suddenly discover that you can’t fly.
I mean, you know it’s coming. In our town, everyone stops flying somewhere around ten years old. That’s when your permanent abilities begin to manifest, and the ones that kept you safe when you were a little kid start to fade out - so most people stop flying (much) on or around their tenth birthday. Oh, there are the occasional kids who hang on to flight well into their teens, but there aren’t many of them. And the ones who turn into grown-ups who can fly? Pff. Practically none. So you know it’s coming. You’d have to be stupid to ignore it, right?
But when you’re a fat girl, flying is pretty much the best thing in your entire world.
It’s like swimming, which is as close anyone who CAN’T fly can get to really being free from the World of Heavy. When you jump into a pool or a lake, it’s amazing - that sudden sensation of weighing almost nothing, feeling the gentle hug of the water holding you up and floating you along on all sides, and you can spin and flip and feel graceful, like a dolphin or an otter, instead of big and clunky and all pushed into the ground, like a hippo. Come to think of it, that’s probably why hippos spend so much time in the water.
Now imagine that feeling, but only MORE so, because there’s no water pushing back on you, and you’re not wearing some skimpy little swimsuit. It’s just you, the wind, and the sky.
But that day, I wasn’t flying. I was… well, PLUMMETING. Dropping like the proverbial brick. No warning, no car-like putta-putta-cough of an engine getting set to die. Just… uh oh. Gravity works.
Wind suddenly rushing the wrong way. Cars and houses getting bigger. Clouds and birds getting further away instead of closer. My shadow getting bigger. Tree branches getting more detailed and looking way sharper than they do from a hundred feet higher up.
I didn’t scream.
Honestly, I didn’t. The sound I made was more like the sound a puppy makes when you step on it by accident, and it got stuck in my throat before it really got out. Which, to be honest, REALLY sucked, because in our town, screaming can save your life.
So I’m dropping out of the sky, arms and legs windmilling like one of those old cartoon characters flapping to try to regain altitude, and I can’t scream because I can’t breath, and all I can think is, Great. You can’t even SCREAM right, you idiot. And now, you’re gonna die. SPLAT.
Mom is gonna be SO pissed.
That’s when my arm connects with something warm and solid, and Aki goes, “OOF! Knock it OFF, Sandy! That hurt!”
And suddenly, I’m not plummeting anymore. I’m doing a Buzz Lightyear “falling with style”… a long, slow, curving swoop, and I’m so busy trying to drink in all those last sights and sounds and feels of flying that I’m only half listening to the angry voice in my ear.
The whole way down, Aki is flipping between Japanese and English at the top of his lungs. I don’t speak much Japanese, but I know that I’m getting told off in both languages, and also that if Aki’s mom was listening in, he’d probably get his mouth washed out with soap.
“... I mean, you’re not a TOTAL FREAKING STUPID IDIOT!” he’s shouting as he dumps me on his roof and drops down beside me. “You KNOW how it works! Dammit, Sandy, WHAT THE HELL WERE YOU THINKING?”
I could have come up with a dozen smart remarks. I’ve known Aki since… well, forever. I’ve mashed his face into the grass when we wrestled, had him whip me solid in a knock-down no-holds-barred pillow fight, kicked his butt in mancala just to watch him throw a tantrum, and gotten up in the face of the third grade class bully who was teasing him because of how short he is. Was. Whatever.
So I could have just flipped him off and climbed down from the roof, making like it doesn’t matter, no biggie, quit acting all high and mighty… but noooooo, I couldn’t even do THAT right.
Because right then, staring at Mister I-Can-Still-Fly Aki, I suddenly realized I could feel how hard my feet were pressing into the ground. Could feel every bit of my body tugging down, down, like gravity was trying to remind me that it was my boss, and would be forever. My nose got that prickly-warm-pincushion feeling, my eyes flooded over, and I started bawling. Right out in the open and everything.
Happy stupid twelfth birthday to me.