The Ratio of Lift to Drag

David Rasey

Jerrin lies back in the sweet, clover-scented summer grass. He stares unblinking up at the clear night sky. At nine years old, the river of stars visible here in rural central Ohio amazes him. He wonders how anyone can live without views like this.

The longer he stares upward, the more his vision expands, until all that exists for him is the star-spattered dark. A strange vibration occurs behind his eyes, and then the magic happens: he is no longer looking up. He is looking out, and then looking down. The sky is no longer high above him; it is below him and it is deep.

Deep space! Jerrin thinks, shivering in ecstasy. Deep space!

He hooks his fingers through the grass and into the earth. He can feel a gigantic pull from the sky. He knows if he doesn’t hold tight to the ground, the earth will let go of him and he will fall up into the sky. In his mind’s eye, he can see himself sliding through the air far below, on his way to see things no one has ever seen. His heart pounds with vast fear and sweeping joy.

“I want to fly!” he whispers. “I want to go out there! Oh please!”

He stiffens, and then relaxes all over. His eyes fix on a single star, or perhaps it’s a planet; Jerrin neither knows nor cares. It is beautiful and its’ light calls to him. The desire to fall away into the sky fills him like a song and beats in his brow in time with his pulse. He imagines gravity like giant fingers opening to release him. Weight begins slipping away. His fingers loosen their grip.

He feels himself growing light, lighter, lightest.

He can’t feel the ground anymore. Only the tips of the grass blades tickle between his shoulders. He is starting to fall up –

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