They fell away into the blue, her scream ringing ceaselessly even as they dropped out of sight through the clouds.
“Move forwards!” He shouts over my shoulder and I obey, shuffling awkwardly towards the door.
“Feet over the edge, hands across your chest!” Comes the final order. My knees swing over the edge of the door and out into nothing.
This is the moment I want to savor. This is what I want to remember. This is where I want to be.
Sitting on the edge, 14 000 feet of nothing but sky between me and the ground. The vaporous vegetation of the sky billows around us. The wind teases at my legs, snatches at my chest, calls me out into the air.
With the slightest of tilts the instructor heeds the call and we go tumbling into the blue. In that single instant a myriad of emotions run through my body- instinctual fear at the sensation of falling sends adrenaline racing, instantly washed away but nothing but a sense of utter and complete relief- I’m there, where I always look to and where I always yearn to be.
But I’m not there for long. Two humans strapped to eachother have all the aerodynamics of a falling brick so I’ve got fifty or so seconds before the chute is pulled.
Inside me there’s a quiet war underneath the euphoria. Primaries itch along my forearms as my brain tries to deal with missing a huge load of sensory input that it expected, but I’m used enough to that. I want to spread my wings, fan my tail and lift my beak into a gradual recovery from the stoop and float away.
My body tenses as I order it to remember it’s physicality and to refrain from dropping form- the instructor would not appreciate my strange posturing. Almost reluctantly I hold the proper arc, arms bent and held stiff.
When the chute opens there’s no jerk as I expected – human flight is always jerky and rough and sudden, unlike the fluid dance I yearn for- but suddenly we’re out of the stoop and gliding.
This is more like what my heart calls for. Drifting. My hands go up as if for the toggles and he instructor brushes them gently away; he probably assumes I was reaching for the harness as if in fear. So I hang, resisting the urge to hold my wingarms out, and lean into the turns as we swoop through a hole in the clouds.
All too soon we’re back on the ground, bracing for a near vertical landing in a headwind. As soon as my feet touch the grass, reclaimed again by the earth. I look once more skywards and the familiar feeling returns. Yearning.
All I want is the wind around me and nothing below my feet.