Nadia lay in a field with her eyes squeezed shut. The grass around and beneath her was gnarled and growing in patches—stamped and trodden upon until it was more brown than green. It blew lazily in the wind of the darkening day, stretching across the mat of earth to the edge of a forest, where the trees grew like giants and blocked much of the sun.
Her eyes were shut tightly, as if held by clamps. It was a game she was playing; if she kept them shut long enough, she thought the world might disappear and take everyone else with it. She had been there for hours, and was now so far lost in her mind that she did not realize they were shut.
She thought she was falling.
The air rushed past her; the clouds tangled her hair. The hawks tore their talons into her flesh as she passed them by. She cried aloud, and still she was falling. Always falling. Faster and faster, crying and crying.
The wind bit her bare arms. The crickets of the field, quietly stringing their violins, were a funeral hymn. Nadia’s funeral. She was going to die, and no one would ever know it. Her heart was pounding rapidly, like a drum; soon, it would just stop.
Something hit her hard, suddenly. Light and color and dark mingled into stars and fading nothingness, and she screamed.
She had fallen from the sky! And no, no, she was not all right—she was surely dead or dying, lost or vanishing into oblivion, out of darkness into the void. Something was strangling her throat; she frantically ripped it away with her fingers, clutching and clutching at the air where the culprit was lurking.
The voice was a sob, entrenched with pity and worry, pleading with her. Unfamiliar, but so wrenching it made her pause.
Who could it be? She knew no savior, but the voice was too sweet to be an enemy.
The air felt thick and heavy in her lungs, and her chest heaved. Abandoning all previous desire, she let her eyelids flutter open.
A boy knelt beside her in the grass. His hair was brown and messy on his head, and his eyes were wide, overflowing with tears. She did not know him, but stared at him for awhile.
“Where am I?” she asked, at last.
He smiled through his watering eyes, and took her hand in his and squeezed it. “Someplace better,” he said.
Copyright: Stephanie Eveland Diaz