Saturday, 25 June 2016

Upfurler by Anne Weisgerber

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.

20 comments:

  1. Well done. It leaves an aftertaste of questioning.

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    1. Thanks so much for reading and commenting Joy!

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    1. Thank you, Gay! Enjoyed yours as well! NFFD is a wonderful event.

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  3. Many thanks to National Flash Fiction Day for selecting "Upfurler" for this year's celebration! I'm so happy to be part of the event and am enjoying all the stories! Also enduring thanks and a shout-out to acknowledge Pure Slush FIVE Vol. 10, where this piece was originally published. <3 <3 <3

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  4. What I love about this and your stories in general is that only you could have written them. Really special.

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    1. Caroline--thank you so much. It is a great pleasure in my life to be a writer at the same time you are, and that we read and enjoy each others' work. <3

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  5. Anne, you know this is one of my favorites of yours, just astonishing. So glad you showcased this one. -April

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    1. Thanks, April. That means the world to me that you like this one. <3

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  6. thank you for this story and for starting the 'list' on international flash/facebook page

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  7. Thanks for reading, Barbara! I'm keeping a look out for your story as well!!! :o)

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  8. Anne: I know how much this piece means to you. This is so powerful and such a gut punch. You are amazing and brliant and I love you for writing this. It is brave, just like you. <3

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  9. Anne: I know how much this piece means to you. This is so powerful and such a gut punch. You are amazing and brliant and I love you for writing this. It is brave, just like you. <3

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  10. I think I did this once on acid...Upfurling. This is just all kinds of brilliant and wonderful And the tie-in to the towers and jumpers, laid in with such grace and skill. Amazing piece. Just amazing. Bravo!

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  11. I think I did this once on acid...Upfurling. This is just all kinds of brilliant and wonderful And the tie-in to the towers and jumpers, laid in with such grace and skill. Amazing piece. Just amazing. Bravo!

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  12. Thank you @jayne martin and @hillary leftwich. I'm a fan of you both! x

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  13. Such a gorgeous story. Thank you for writing it and for pushing me to submit to the flood.

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    1. I love your story too, Nan. I'm so happy we are writing friends and got to be in this event together!!

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  14. I have always been a fan of this story and of you. It's lovely and gorgeous and horrific and chilling all at once. How do you DO that? I especially love this line: "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." And of course those very last lines get me every time. So happy to see this here.

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  15. Thank you, Linda. I have a feeling this is the story I'll be known for when I'm gone. I'm okay with that, come to think of it. Thanks for your comment.

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