Saturday 18 June 2022

'Atmospheric Variations' by Janna Miller

Her mother never touched the ground, so Su didn’t either. Her toes splayed on rooftops and gables, curled around hanging vines and gutters. She leapt from mailbox to mailbox, and crouched in the hedgerows, feet sliding on bending branches. Friends joined her on the rafters or swung in hammocks, strung between hooks in upstairs bedrooms.

While her mother grew lighter and more porous, Su descended, grazing lower to the ground. Air moved her hair in waves while sand caught in her ankle-socks, straining her muscles to jump and jump. She made it to the tree house most weekends, to write in her diary and text song lyrics to her semester crush.

By the time she moved out, to a loft apartment downtown, Su wore platform shoes to skid along the surface, a head taller than her neighbors. They passed her from one side of the hallway to another as a game, Su landing hard against the walls.

Her mother would visit, over the years, knocking on the highest window to let her in. Su plucked the twigs from her hair and braided it into a cloud, white as parchment. Her mother massaged her daughter’s feet, pulling out stones and burrs.

When her mother ascended into the lower atmosphere, Su left the stones where they were and bought a pair of flats, with inserts to help her arches. Sometimes her mother would send a finch to say hello, and Su opened the window to its petite knocking, standing on the tips of her toes.



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