Nobody understood this could be a thing, until they saw jumpers at a certain height, five hundred eleven feet, tumble upward. Unlike fallers, upfurlers didn’t make spectators jerk their shoulders in revulsion or crunch up faces to stave off crying.
Seeing upfurlers made the emergency responders slack-jawed the way a miracle can. Like if you woke up and had the 20-inch curling fingernails: it made no sense, but you’d seen pictures, and here they were. Philippe Petite kind of lay down in the air once, but this?
There was one woman in a skirt suit, hounds-tooth-checked, who spun like a saucer without rising or falling. Her hair swished behind her, swish, swish, like a sickle. They call her Frisbee now, but her name is Andrea Masterson Giacobazzi, and whatever magic, whatever science, whatever god kept spinning her like a barefoot plate, dispersed when the first tower fell, creating voids. Floor by floor boom-pancaked, boom-pancaked, and Mrs. Giacobazzi, in perfect Lagrangian coherent structures, trailed boom-boom down through the c-shaped vortices of air. Cause of death was an adult equivalent of shaken baby syndrome.
Maybe there was a level in the atmosphere where gravity recoiled in surprise that day. “It was a sweet pocket,” science said, also concluding that any jumper below her event, at the unfortunate measure of 509 feet or less, fell. Mrs. Giacobazzi’s children felt sadder.
Downfurlers made a horrible meaty thunking thud, then recoiled from their own private LZs, momentarily ghosted in sticky pink mists, before continuing to fall.
What was most interesting was jumpers at 511 feet and higher. They rose—tumbled and laughed and blew kisses until eventually they sensed the chill, understood they’d surpassed Everest, fell asleep, and crisped up like leaves on the way out.
From a distance, upfurlers shimmered like a murmuration, gently hovered there, like some air current snapped a soft blanket below their soft forms; their tears plocked down, but wore away to nothing before anyone could know. All science knew were puddles of blunt force trauma, cranberry and Burberry and snozzleberry and, listen. I get a little choked up thinking about it. It’s that meat thock. Give me a minute. I’m not a hugger.
By family request, I cannot say more. But I’m up here. I’m up here.