Sadie Allspaw, Andrew Berman ∙ 01/28/2022 ∙ January 2022
Here I am, walking out of class. It’s a normal day, like any other. Leaving the boys bathroom, the room which my class was in, the mysterious liquid on the floor is still clinging to my shoe. Is it water? Pee? Something worse? I don’t know, and quite frankly I don’t care. I walked past the vending machine, eyeing up all the snacks I can’t afford. Funables. Yum. I arrive at the staircase and open the door, shoving a ninth grader as I make my way through. He’s so small, so naive to the horrors that await on those steps… those dark, evil steps. I took one step, hah, step… funny. Then, I, and all my pride, topple. I’m falling. The chain link walls of the staircase rattle as my tumbling body flops into them and I am overcome with fear. Suddenly, I hear a splash, my elbow slips into some brown liquid. “Ah, yes,” I think. “Diarrhea.” Some gets in my mouth. It’s just chocolate milk. I can tell by the taste of cardboard and feet. Delicious.
I think back to the man I used to be. I remember doing things like going to class, peeing, and peeing in class (weird day). Standing, in all of my arrogance. I’m not falling. From an outside perspective, it may seem like I’m frantically battling the forces of gravity and getting horribly beaten, but this is not the case. Falling implies a state of being, whereas I simply am not being. I amn’t.
Who have I become? No longer the pompous student am I. Carrying my books, my burdens. I may be stuck, tumbling down these wretched steps, yet somehow I’m freer than I've ever been. I see myself, my body. I look like a nerd. Am I astral projecting? Perhaps. I never thought I would have to confront a version of myself stripped of all dignity, of all hope in this desolate world. However, that day has come. I’m forced to ask myself: if a kid falls in a staircase and there’s nobody around, does he ever even crash, or even make a sound?
And then I crash into one of the walls and I scream as loud as I can. My elbow launches down into the riser of a step with enough force to launch my feet above my head. I’m flipped over. For a moment, I know what it feels like to live upside down.
How does upside down me walk, I think. How does he talk? What are his wishes, dreams, aspirations? I immediately think about my upside down family, my upside down wife, Susan. What will she think when I don’t come home to our upside down family tonight? She’s already mad at me for being behind on my upside down taxes, and I don’t know how much longer I can take the cold shoulder.
I awaken from my daydream. At least I will never have to face Susan now. The steps put thoughts in your head, it’s easy to get lost in them. Last time I fell on the stairs I dreamt that I was a teacher at Tech. Can you believe this new testing schedule they gave u– Forgive me, the stairs came over me again. I came back with tears streaming down my face; what a horrid life.
It feels as though I’ve lived many lives as I’ve fallen. In some way, I’m more the falling me than I am the static me. No longer am I the nerdy boy who lights trash cans on fire and pees in class. I am flight. I am motion. A blur. I am falling, and I am free.