My Own Two Feet
by Shayla Scott
The television was on, loud and vibrant, in our small African themed living room. "X-Men,” my favorite cartoon at the time, was on the screen. It was a show about a variety of superheroes who each possessed special talents to defeat evil villains. I was occupied with my favorite pastime, intently watching my favorite character do her work. She was on her way to rescue a group of impatient civilians trapped in a severely burning building. She did not hesitate to go do her devoted duty. She was flying through the sky, like an eagle with a mission, in her sassy silver cat suit and matching cape. Storm was her name. She was poised and powerful, strong and sharp, cute and classy. She was the epitome of the perfect woman.
I mimicked her every move, jumping from couch to floor to love seat to ottoman. I felt like a bird soaring high and being free. The wind swooshing in my face gave me a light tingle but left a cool, fresh breeze. Like Storm, I could fly like an ambitious hawk, I could conjure up dark and fierce thunderstorms on demand, and I could defeat the enemy without putting a strain on myself. Storm made her job look exceptionally easy. She was flawless.
As a couple of months passed, the atmosphere became thick and rubbery; it resembled the taste you get when you deflate a balloon in your mouth. My mother and I had just come back from a bi-weekly routine trip to the grocery store. I was antsy and impatient, rushing to get out of the stuffy car. The gray leather seats were sweaty and hot; I was afraid they would leave little red temporary bruises on my brown skin as they had often done before.
I jumped out of our burgundy Mitsubishi Mirage like a curious frog, grabbed two or three light grocery bags, and was well on my way up the laborious flight of stairs into our third floor apartment. I did not even bother to think about helping putting any of the food away. After all, it was time for "X-Men." I ran to jump ecstatically on the hunter green leather sofa. I was very much into this particular episode because it featured Storm more than any other character. I was like a fat kid in Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory; you couldn’t lead me away from the television if the world depended on it. Storm swooped down and landed on her own two feet from the balcony of a high-rise. I imitated her as if she was standing in front a mirror and I was her unblemished reflection.
Just then, I heard the screeching sound of my mother calling my name from downstairs. I ran out onto our own balcony to see why she had interrupted me. "Come downstairs and help bring these other groceries up," she said assertively. I nodded reluctantly, but before I attempted to run down the demanding three flights of stairs, I looked over the semi-high balcony and meditated on jumping off. If Storm could do it and not get hurt, then I could do it too.
I rested my long and narrow feet on the rigid lower balcony bar. The wood was old and chipping but I did not care. I spread my arms like they were wings. I felt the weakness of the torn wood as it squeaked, but still I leaned my entire upper body over the balcony. The timing was perfect. All I knew was that I needed to get downstairs quick and this would be the fastest way, flying. I was too ready, just as a sprinter about to take off for the 100-meter dash. I took a breath, but before I could even begin my flight, something I had not expected happened. My mother called my name with so much conviction, compelling and solid, that it scared me. She often had such a certain distinctiveness in her voice that you could always automatically decipher if she was not too serious or if she meant crucial business. With this particular call, I knew getting downstairs was my first priority. I could learn to fly later.
I dashed out of the apartment like a fiery madwoman on the run. The excitement for the opportunity to try to fly was so fierce that I just could not help myself. I was irked to the point of insanity. By the time I got to the last flight of seven steps I was an uncontrollable psychopath in an invisible stray jacket. I had to do it; my life depended on it. I mocked the same behavior as previously on the balcony. Arms spread wide, eyes to the sky like I was on my way into the heavens high, I prepped by slightly bending my long, lanky, brown legs at the knee. Then I dove. For a split second I thought it was real; I was actually flying…until I hit the ground.
There I lie, flat on the concrete, face down. The sound of my perplexed body hitting the ground was like a volcanic explosion. I was disoriented. I lifted my head and stared into the pool of velvet red blood that dripped from some unnoticeable area on my head. It outlined the side of my face like thick, white chalk at a crime scene investigation. I could taste it, bitter yet salty. Looking around the vacant area, I could see no one was in sight, but surely someone must have heard me tumbling to the rigid concrete. I had no initial physical reaction to the fall. As soon as I was on my own two feet, I felt it. It was like a boulder lying on my stomach.
With the world spinning around me, I had no choice but to run to the nearest consolation. I was running and running, everything went by so fast that I had not even noticed me tripping over dirt and patchy, thick, brown grass twice while searching for help. I had no destination; I just hoped something or someone would give me my breath back. I was gasping for air, but it was stingy and would not let me take even a sample. The fact that of all days, today was the day that the air decided to be dense and heavy had not helped. I had not even realized the constant flow of persistent blood running all over my purple and white striped dress like a faucet that someone intended to turn off but accidentally left slightly dripping.
Where was my mother? I must have ran for what seemed like a mile, but was actually about fifty feet, before she noticed my presence. "I…I…I can’t breathe," I said. She was so confused and scared that she, just as myself, had not initial reaction but just stood helplessly thinking, trying to find something that would help me. I did not feel the pound on my back. I could not feel anything at the time but the horror quickly creeping on me of not being able to breathe. She struck my back three more times, the only thing she could do. The air finally allowed me to take the biggest breath I could, making up from all the inhalation I had already missed. I was leaned over like I had just finished the Boston Marathon, breathing as much and as quickly as I could. I only heard the sounds of me inhaling profusely and my mother screaming for help while a neighbor ran to call the ambulance.
The medic stated that I only had a temporary loss of breath from the impact of the fall. I only had to have a few stitches put in my head for a couple weeks. From that day on I let go of the wish to be Storm. I realized that in reality, I did not possess the power she held. At least I had accomplished my goal, which was to end up on my own two feet. But only after landing on my face.