The Beginning of Human Flight: The True Story
DJ Daniels (University of Technology Sydney, Australia)
Now it has happened worldwide, we are all aware of the various theories concerning the beginning of human flight. We have heard, ad infinitum, the argument that the traceurs, the Parkour practitioners, made it all possible; considered the hypothesis regarding evolution and high rise living; and dismissed the conjecture that human flight is a physically manifested emotional reaction to the perceived impossibility of everyday space flight (aka the Jetsons Phenomenon). This, as you know, is not an exhaustive list. Perhaps it is possible that there is some truth, somewhere, amidst the speculation.
Naturally, many have claimed to be the first person to fly. But there is no truth in any of these claims. The absolute truth is that it began with Adele. Nobody knows this, except for Adele, although it is possible that Mr Chang has some idea. It seems unlikely that he will come forward at this late stage. But it is possible, and, as we should have learned lately, many things are possible.
Adele was fifty-two at the time, an unusual age for something new perhaps. She was lying restlessly in bed, prevented from sleeping by the heat radiating from her back. From time to time she imagined wings of flame, and trying to embrace the phenomenon by visualizing herself as a phoenix. It didn’t help her sleep. If anyone had asked, she would have told them that this was not the first time, that she would often lie awake, wondering how something this dramatic could lead to nothing, an ending, the start only of old age.
And perhaps because no-one did ask her, and perhaps because her husband was snoring beside her with no idea that every night she lay in bed burning up, and perhaps because her children really, as they had told her, had no need of her any more, when she went out to the balcony, she jumped off. Not intentionally, just because. She needed some air. She was sick of being hot. It seemed as if an end had come. If she had told anyone they would have said hormones, and that conversation was not worth having.
In any case, it was not hard; there was no decision, or indeed indecision, involved. She stepped onto the small table, then up onto the ledge, and then off her twenty-third floor balcony. She did it gracefully and without drama.
For quite a long time, Adele simply enjoyed the cool breeze. But after a while, at about the seventeenth floor level, she began to notice that some of her many neighbours were still awake or at least still had their lights on. She watched people in their kitchens having late snacks, she observed others reading, playing music, kissing. There was an unfortunate amount of TV watching, of course. But to balance that, a spectacular fight was taking place on the twelfth floor. She loved what had been done in 1102, the pinks, the greens, so many paintings and books. A piano too! Who lived there, she wondered? So many people she didn’t know.
The tops of the trees in the seventh floor courtyard were approaching and she thought about what she would prefer – paving or branches. She found that she didn’t mind. Whatever came her way. Paving it seemed to be, and not too close to the water feature. Which was good, she supposed. Adele noticed that Mr Chang’s courtyard shop was still open. She could see the top of his head and the flickering light of a TV. He worked long hours, but it was probably worth it, some people didn’t like to go down to street level if they could help it.
Adele realized that her elegant transit through the upper levels was almost over. She remained calm and tried to think of other things, but eventually began to wonder just how much longer it would take. Surely by now? Looking down, she was indeed very close to the paving, but, somehow, not on it. Hovering. How foolish, she thought. In retrospect it had taken quite a long time to fall. But maybe while she was here she could get some juice. Her pajamas were quite respectable and Mr Chang wouldn’t mind that she didn’t have money on her. She could pay him back tomorrow night. She already had ideas about what to wear. Something floaty and fluttery. Tomorrow night she would see what else she could do.
DJ Daniels is a writer living in Sydney, Australia. She lives by the edge of a tiny bit of bush and spends some of her day observing the ongoing dog-lizard war. (Lizards are well ahead.) Her first novel, What the Dead Said, has recently been published by Dragonfall Press. She has also embarked on a MA in Creative Writing at UTS. Visit her blog here: zombiejungle.wordpress.com