Across the chasm stands a woman with jet hair sneaking glances with a smirk. On my side, I sit at the ledge just like many times before. Rarely have I seen across the divide so clearly.
Want dances on my nerve endings. There is an easy route to resolve carved deeply in my mind. The route down through the chasm and its many shadows.
But I promised my heart I won’t take that route today.
Instead, the wind senses my yearning to cross the chasm and rushes past my fingertips. Dust and sand kick into a cloud between the woman and me.
For the first time in many days, I take 3 steps back and 4 bounding steps forward. I instinctively pick up speed before my lead foot stomps down at the ledge an—
—I’m flying! Woooooo. My heart beats in jubilee.
Oh fuck, I’m flying. My mind catches up to my body.
My arms windmill as my head has time to comprehend my heart’s surprise. Below me I see the figures of monsters I know far too well, their eyes dressed with craving and hunger.
Contrary to my head’s expectations, I soon realize I’m soaring further than expected. I’ve overshot my mark and am now on a collision course with the woman on the other side.
An audience member-turned-player in my bounding arc, she gracefully sidesteps out of the way leaving me just enough room to land.
I feel my toes slide across sandy rocks. Heels, knees, and shoulder follow. I half tumble, half slide twelve steps back from the ledge on the other side of the chasm.
Riding a spike of adrenaline, I shoot to my feet and brush myself off. Looking back across the chasm, I see the wind play with tendrils of dust I kicked up.
Adrenaline metabolizes into diffuse confidence as the woman walks over. I extend my hand, pretending not to notice the scrapes on my arms.
“I’m jamey. Nice to meet you.” I’m starting to feel the gravel that’s embedded in my back.
Chuckling and nodding her head in amusement, she shakes my hand. “Nice to meet you too. Do your introductions usually have such a…” she gestures at the smear of dirt and rocks.
“No, not usually,” I reply, smiling in spite of my cuts and soon-to-be bruises.
“Well then,” she huffs in a friendly grin, “welcome to Ardor.” Her hand sweeps towards the distant shapes of buildings, beginning to glow in the dusk’s dim.
“I… couldn’t see that from the other side.” I rub my eyes reflexively, adding more smudges than I remove.
“Nobody can,” she giggles at what must be my obvious naïveté. Now, she offers a hand while turning towards the buildings. “C’mon then, it’s getting dark.”
I look back across the chasm once more. The wind has wiped the air clean. The only evidence of my leap is at my feet and scraped into my skin.
We clasp hands and she begins leading the way to Ardor.
Seeing the walk ahead, my curiosity picks a thread of conversation. “So, Ardor. The unseeable city across the chasm.”
She laughs at the irregular title. The wind changes direction.
“I don’t suppose your names invisible too,” I jest.
She draws a deep breath in with lucid eyes before replying. “Well, jamey, funny you should mention. There’s quite the story there.”
Our footsteps carry us into the dusk as she begins to tell the tale.