When I was little, I took the purple-gray pillow, sat on it, and slid off the arm of the sofa. You know, like when other kids would open up umbrellas and jump off small heights, thinking the umbrellas would slow their falls and make them float. That’s what I was thinking. Except, I wasn’t thinking I’d float. No, I’d fall off the edge and land on this soft pillow and it would be no big deal because I was landing on a cushy thing and not the hard boards.
Well, I floated. I floated slow and landed with a light touchdown, just like a little fairy riding a feather to the floor.
I tried it again and again and it didn’t work. I didn’t get hurt, though. My bones were all rubber back then; nothing hurt me. But the pillow trick didn’t work.
Until one night, I was all clutching it to me in my top bunk bed, sleeping. I dreamed I rolled over and drifted to the rug, slow. When I woke up, it was morning and I was on the floor, still hugging that pillow to me. No injuries. No bruises. This was a six foot drop, minimum.
I didn’t try the bunk bed trick again. I was older by then and I knew that I’d probably get hurt if I rolled off the top on purpose.
Now I wonder.
Is there any magic left in that pillow for me? Or does magic only exist for those who can’t feel the bars on their cages? I left my prison behind and I thought I’d find something wonderful to fill me. I thought I could go back to those good, innocent times, but the old little-girl magic hasn’t returned. All I see is ugliness. All I feel is time running out. All I hear is ‘No.’
I’ll give you one last chance, pillow. Prove it. Prove my time on Earth is about more than toil, paying bills, and the endless search for ‘love.’ Prove, like you did when I was young, that good and marvelous things do happen. If you don’t, I’m putting you to rest. I’m giving you up along with my pathetic dreams.
I stand on the roof and hug the old ‘magic’ pillow to my chest.
This is your test. Will you help me float down and cushion my fall? Or will you prove that there really is no wonder in the world, let me get hurt, and fail?
I fling the ratty old pillow to the shingles and sit. I’m a lunatic. They were stupid dreams, had by a stupid girl. Reality is a drab, meaningless place, there’s no such thing as magic, and I can never go back to make-believe. The pillow is just a thing. Look at it there, looking all dirty and shabby. Threadbare. Old.
I feel sad for it all of a sudden. It’s not so bad. Just because it’s been doubted, cursed at, and thrown, that doesn’t mean it’s not still soft and warm. That doesn’t mean it can’t be great again. It just needs a couple of stitches. Some stuffing to fill it. A patch or two. A head to lay on it. A body to hug it. That’s all.
That’s all it needs.
I step back from the edge, go to where I threw it, and pick it up. I brush it off and hold it out in the sunlight.
The old purple threads twinkle at me.
“I’m sorry.” I say. “We can make it work, we can fix it. Let’s go home.”
Sylvia Heartz grew up in the country, moved to the city, earned a master’s degree in architecture, and decided to try to get some of her stories published. She has been writing stories since she learned how to write.