the fall / #20 hastings (Barcelona; 28 de septiembre 2012)
Once, as Susan rode the bus home, she saw, looking out the window as the bus crept along Hastings, a woman’s body fall from above.
It fell so fast and resembled a giant bird shot mid-flight by hunters on the ground. Or it was like a bundle, a swaddled infant, though large. The weight of the bundle was unbearable; Susan had never seen a body fall before, and this weight that was so compliant with gravity, helpless against it, confused her. It was out of context. It seemed it would never stop falling, but of course it did, too soon, the ground too close, and the sound, the horrific sound could be heard from within the passing bus. A dull, empty thud, a thud that resonated only briefly, bouncing off the walls of Susan’s skull, vibrating and making her teeth chatter, a thud that reflected the life that had been lost within it. This life had been graced, now, with a weighty fall as its final earthly experience, a life departed in failed flight, flight only wished for.
An encounter between flesh and concrete, the ultimate urban experience.
We can only wonder about which window of which hotel she fell from, about whose fingers she slipped from, whose fingers had let her go. Nevermind wondering about how it could have happened at all. And why was she there in that room, that dirty room with bare bedframe lacking mattress but with cigarette butts to spare; and beer cans labelled Pabst Blue Ribbon, white red blue; and stained carpet that smelled like decomposition; and there was a fingerprint on the wall that might have been left in traces of blood.
But come on, they also may have been fingerpainting with oil based paints, practicing for kindergarten, practicing for when the time came to learn to read. So these fingerprints should have been all over the bundle—like rainbow dots that in the rapid spinning of the falling figure would meld optically to appear more linear. These fingerprints might have been proof of opposable thumbs and humanity. But there were neither flashes nor flurries of colour but rather a blur of grey that Susan thought should really have been white.
After that she couldn’t sleep for a week.
The bus had stopped; the driver had run out onto the sidewalk where a small crowd was gathering, bewildered but in all honesty not quite surprised. The bus driver had called the paramedics on his radio, but there hadn’t seemed to have been much hope left over for her, for this swaddled and failed angel, reclaimed by concrete clouds.