Faux Pas

Design by Alexa Druyanoff

He wiped away the beads of sweat above his eyebrows and pushed back his thinning hair before opening the car door. Stepping into the dry air, he watched rays of sunlight dance through the cloud of dust his car had kicked up. As the last particles settled, he loosened his cheap necktie—he had tied it short this morning.

He made his way towards the shoddy wooden fence at the cliff’s edge. Next to it, a sign read: Rebel’s Valley—KEEP BACK—Steep Drop, followed by some historical information he never bothered to read. He stepped over the fence towards the precipice with a practiced carelessness, and basked in the sensation he felt rising from the pit of his being. As he looked up at the motionless clouds, the sensation drifted from his chest, up to his throat and head. A slight grin formed on his lips. He looked down. Shifting his feet closer to the edge, his legs began to shake as he examined the rocky terrain below. 

Typically, he would straighten up here, turn around, hop over the fence, and get back into his car. But today, the warmth of the setting sun beating gently on his neck and the cool updraft rising from the valley left him rooted to the spot. Entranced, he extended a shaky leg outward, planting his foot onto the nothingness above the valley. 

A deafening gust enveloped his body. He closed his eyes, and waited patiently to jerk awake. Just one of those dreams, he thought. Soon his brain would throw him back into the stiff embrace of his mattress.

When he opened his eyes, the terrain looked clearer than before. What a goddamn rat race I’ve been running, he thought, all to end up a pile of meat and bones in the middle of fucking nowhere. Not that it matters, nobody would even think to look for me. At this thought, he wanted nothing more than to lash out—to feel anything besides the sun on his back and the wind against his face. But he was helpless and couldn’t even hope to make a scene about it.

He was never a religious man, but he figured now was as good a time as any to become one. He said a quick, honest prayer to every god, but the ground did not start to look any more like salvation. 

As every intimate detail of the valley presented itself, he wished his life would flash before his eyes. He begged his mind to conjure up an image to inspire anything other than dread.  He wept as his mind failed to heed his demands and begged for an end.

His wish was granted. Connecting with the ground, he remembered once hearing on the radio that we’re all made of star stuff. He returned home. 

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