Aaron Dreamed of Flying


(This is a first draft.)

Aaron dreamed of flying. He felt the slow-motion drift of his body rising and he felt the wind about him; he saw his body through the roof of the car below and the birdshit on the roof. Mostly he saw the sorrow of traffic: cars trucks busses, even the motorbikes, apparent rebels riding each one, were not immune – the long wait with engine running the sudden lurch forward and then driving for ten or twenty feet, in the hope that they would still have fuel by the time the road cleared enough to do more than crawl.

Aaron’s head dropped and hit the horn. He sat up, looking around, a spasm of thought, his eyes half dark with anger at having been pulled from the sky. A moment and he reached into the glove compartment for a peppermint to hide his breath. He popped the sweet into his mouth and opened the sunroof, then rolled down the window. He stifled a yawn as he realised there was a beautiful woman in the next car over. He looked away, preparing to turn back to try to get her attention. Then he felt the cold trail of sweat roll down the side of his face; embarrassed now, he felt the sweat under his arms. He reached over to the passenger’s side window, but only to try and check how badly his shirt was stained. With this operation complete, and having satisfied himself that his armpits looked ok, he began to turn back to the woman.

He stopped and pretended to study something on the dashboard. It had suddenly come to him that she would not be there; that the traffic would have moved on and she would have been replaced with an old woman, a spoilt child or a flamboyant homosexual who would blow a kiss to Aaron when he smiled, and how could he then explain that the smile was for a beautiful young woman.

Aaron wiped the sweat from his face and turned. She was still there, but her head was bowed and he assumed she was reading a book. He thought about tapping on her window and just saying hello, but first he wanted to get a look at whoever was on the other side of her. Maybe she had a jealous husband, or a jealous lover, or both, maybe the husband was driving the car and the lover was in the back.

He had to stop thinking like this. He looked at her again; she was a perfectly ordinary woman. The thought depressed him. He didn’t want a perfectly ordinary woman; he wanted an Amazon, a petite Amazon, really. The woman across from him was neither petite nor an Amazon. But … She was reading a book in a traffic jam, and he had to give her credit for that. He considered all the books she might be reading, he hoped for something cool but it was probably chick-lit. He found himself grinning at her and then he noticed the hint of a smile, the slight curl at the edge of her lips. He made up his mind to knock on her window, just as he lifted his hand her car began to move.

‘No,’ he shouted. In the same moment he hit the back window or the car and pulled his hand away, knocking his elbow against the central pillar of his car. His arm jerked away and he punched the bit that surrounds the window.

He pulled his arm back into the car as the traffic moved around him and the cars behind started blowing their horns. He was still nursing his hand a few minutes later when he realised they were blowing their horns at him. He pressed down on the accelerator and when nothing happened he took a minute to remember he had turned the engine off. He turned the key in the ignition, but nothing happened. He tried again and still nothing happened, When his third attempt failed he half turned to face the cars behind him, smiling an apology and cursing himself under his breath.

He tried again, getting desperate now that he could hear the helicopter. Traffic on the bridge was packed so tightly that if a car broke down, it completely stopped the flow of traffic in that lane. The only solution he had ever seen was the helicopter. At first it was just a sound, so faint you wouldn’t be sure you heard anything at all. Then the sound of chopping the air, and the helicopter appeared. It flew in low over the other cars, its magnet swinging its slow descent, almost touching the roofs of the other cars as it passed, and then Aaron was sitting in darkness and noise as the helicopter stopped above him. He tried to hide, crouching down, and trying to climb under the dashboard. Then the roof caved in a little when the magnet made contact. And as the car began to rise, gently swaying its way into the sky, a feeling of wellbeing came over Aaron; this was his dream come true. He sat up and looked around, smiling as he realised he was finally getting off the bridge. He could not remember a time before the bridge, he could not remember driving onto the bridge, but now he was leaving, rising into the sky and being carried along to… He became afraid. What if there was nothing else? What if there was only the bridge? All traffic moved in the same direction. What if there was a beginning but no end? That was ridiculous, he thought. He rolled down his window and looked out; there was nothing below him now but the clouds, and nothing above him but the sound of the helicopter he could no longer see. His car disappeared as it was absorbed by the clouds and Aaron was left floating naked and free. He thought about moving to his left, and found himself floating in that direction, he thought about another direction, and his movement changed. He was flying and wondered if it was a dream.

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