“Take me falling down,” she said and I reached, two hands, two old hands, older than yesterday the day before. We tumbled downward, onward, hill of green and grass, blades so sharp, the wind. The sun burns down. Flowers.
Only the jasmine comes forth in the dark.
* * *
“Take me falling down,” she said when there was no other way to hold her, body bent and nose to knees. She is my Chinese acrobat but her skin — it’s as white as sugar gone through the bones.
“Take me falling down,” she said and pushed away from my body, somersault away and gone, a dandelion gone to seed. This is the wind. This is where it will take her, to a field of stone, of white and grey. Where she falls new trees will grow and bring forth fruit and I will climb them.
I will climb them and when my arms are open she will make her way back to me in a whisper of pollen, in the white of new blossoms.
* * *
I will tell you she ran away on a snowflake and promised we’d meet again. In this building, this place that has spaces the same white as winter, in the chasm between the first and last breath there is no room for dreams. I walk, hands out, palms up as if to say I will cause no harm. I am not dangerous. I hear an alarm through a fabric wall, a sound that echoes off the white. There is a woman in a folded-in hat, the soles of her shoes are rubber and her skirt moves stiffly about her knees. She does not look at me as we pass in the wide hall. Somewhere the sound of metal and the steady beep beep beep of machine. It is how they know we are alive. It is how they know to run when we lay dying.
I turn the corner and the room is one big square. Its corners are sharp and I am half-dead. I am not the one in wires and they do not know that this is the cold when the sun blinks off.
“Take me falling down,” she had said and I reached and I let her go, go.
And she falls. There in the room of four corners she falls. She falls where she has already landed. She lands in the place where we already said goodbye. The woman in the folded-in hat is too late. She looks at me but does not know what I have done.
Wires hang and tell stories in a language she can not read.
But we, we know the whole story.
Outside, it is the time of leaves.
* * *
I am in the tree and its limbs have five fingers. They hold the last of the apples and in the spit-shine skin I see my future, blue sky and the insides of clouds.
I see you in the white, tumble over and around and through. This is the wind, you were my Chinese acrobat.
“Fall down,” the wind says.
Take me falling down.
The limb, my hand, releases the apple. Smear of red, the wet of landing.
I see you in the leaves. Your hands open, wide open. Your fingers are five petals. Your voice is the wind, calling.
And winter comes on, and autumn—
Autumn has fallen
now that our summer is through
Amber van Dyk is a short story writer by night and a novelist by accident. Her stories have appeared in various online and print markets including ChiZine, Alchemy, Rabid Transit: Petting Zoo and Fantasy. Currently she is working on her third novel and trying to avoid being labeled as the worst video gamer in history.