FACING THE GROUND • by Doug Paul Case

When Matthew Leary jumped from the balcony on the fourteenth floor he thought perhaps he’d bounce back up to the party. Or perhaps that was the LSD thinking. Either way, there he was, careening towards the mist-soaked lower Manhattan street one lively Saturday night. He couldn’t understand why Beth was screaming. Surely she knew the ground was rubber. Surely she knew he’d be back in a moment. He’d have to come back eventually if he was going to propose next week.

He was glad to be facing the ground; he didn’t want to look at her. Her eyes were too awful to look at when she was screaming. His positioning would also make it easier to see the ground smash beneath him. He’d been a fool to think it was rubber before when it was so obviously glass. Do you see how shiny it is? Of course it would break under his weight; 180 pounds of flesh trumps tinted glass every time. He might get cut up a bit, but he would continue falling.

But why would he want to keep falling? He didn’t want to keep falling. He would do something else. Fly away, perhaps? Yes, he would turn into one of those gliding squirrels and just fly away. He practiced flapping his wings but soon remembered that squirrels never flapped their wings. Perhaps instead he would land like a cat. Cats never die, do they?

He remembered his passionate dislike for anything feline. He would not land like a cat–that was a completely despicable notion. He’d just have to bend his knees and land the right way.

“Shit,” he thought.

Doug Paul Case studies writing, literature, and publishing at Emerson College, where he currently serves as assistant poetry editor of The Emerson Review.   This is his first published short story.

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