The path winded past the dark river and I skidded to a halt when I reached the park. I dismounted with a wide clumsy swing of my leg and let my bike topple over with a loud crash onto the gravel path. I turned, not looking back. My sneakers, animated by an evil sneaker ghost, led my feet forward into the playground near the riverfront. I walked over the confetti-like woodchips, lining the bottom of the play equipment like a giant hamster cage, filled with tiny pellets of metaphorical shit and piss.
Mother didn't approve of me coming to the playground, but her hands were busy with praying and then washing themselves over and over again, so she wouldn't know, besides as long as I wore my coat, I should be okay. As soon as the thought entered my consciousness, my coat started itching, deep into my skin. I imagined taking a fork and scraping it across myself, cutting the fabric and downy cushion and digging deep into my flesh. I wished I could cut deep into release.
I sat on a swing, allowing the sounds of the river to wash over me like a cleansing shower of white noise and screaming. The trees lined the playground like a half assed fence, caging in the feelings but still letting bad demons creep in to climb the monkey bars. I kicked my legs up and pumped through the air. My pants sank up into my sweaty kneepits, damp and anxious in their exertion. The hairs on my human body whistled in the sharp wind. My feet sailed upwards towards the stars. I gripped the chains tighter, pinching my fingers and palms hard against the frozen metal. Blood curled in my hands and dripped down my wrists, seeping into my sweater sleeves.
The clouds parted as my legs shot upward. I leaned back, my torso parallel to the earth below me and pumped again. My ass flew up out of the seat, my weight buckling under me and then smacking back down into the seat. I flew back and then went forward again, rising up out of my seat, and this time taking flight. My fingers loosened their grip and I floated up into the dark night.
Grasping onto the clouds and strands of darkness, I soared, unburdened by gravity, unattached to anything. Below me sat the tiny playground, little pieces of my childhood peering up at me. Why wasn't I falling? Had I already fallen and was I dreaming now? I floated miles above everything, simply sailing farther up. It was freeing and terrifying, not to be able to clutch anything tangible, to only have whisps of nothing to keep me grounded, to not know what grounded meant anymore, nor if I ever had been.
Hearing an owl in the distance, the sound of the river was my floor, rushing gently and angrily like a missing blown kiss, far below me. I traveled south, away from the playground. The neighborhood grew smaller beneath my dangling legs. I edged out from reality, from existence, my bleeding palms facing the world below, dripping towards the playground. I could hear everything melting away. I said goodbye to who I was, what I thought I wanted, where I could have been, and floated up into the stars. It was forever, and I evaporated into it.
The freezing clouds cuddled me like my heart never could. My shoe fell off and I didn't care. It was ugly, even though I had loved it so much when I saw it in the outlet store window, when I had purchased it, when I wore it, when I ran in it, when I traipsed confidently downtown in it. I loved those sneakers when I had tied them into double nots, matched them to socks and dresses that I had worn to dates, to parties, to coffees, to meetings, to interviews. It was my shoe and I was it's foot and we were both disgusting in our smelly reeking tangibility.
It cascaded quickly down below, to the earth, so vastly sudden that I didn't even notice that I was nakedly barefoot. My toes stretched and curled in the bitter cold of space. Goosebumps grazed my legs and ankles reaching up into everything in my soul, or whatever kept me held together despite the mandatory consistent crying and shaking that outlined the dirty cage of humanity.
I let go of everything that held me to my burdens, my anchors, my chains, and swung up into the nothingness of wishes and dreams and the false sense of belief that your fantasies could someday be realized. I let go of everything I was and I was nothing and I was free.