This story is by Bruce Whou and was part of our 2017 Fall Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
Squirrels & Sippy Cups by Bruce Whou
The leaves were floating into the sky. It wasn’t the wind because the pumpkins were up there as well. I was holding on to the handrails to the entrance of my house. A few old people were already floating away. I found it amusing to see a baby in the sky with a brown trail streaming away from him.
“That’s not funny!” yelled my neighbor. I must have been laughing out loud. She was desperately trying to pull him back with a hand held tractor beam. She had recently moved in while I was away and I could tell that she was using ‘Fountain O’ Yoot’. It was an elixir which made people look younger. The side effects were gas which I could smell.
The authorities were on the move as they helped retrieve people from the sky. They looked awkward and uncomfortable in those magnetic boots.
‘There was a gravity malfunction which we’ll soon have under control. Please stay indoors,” said a drone that flew by.
I planned on painting today and these disasters usually took over an hour for them to fix. I headed inside for my boots and noticed my chef’s hat and apron floating around. A holographic screen appeared in front of me with my ‘to do’ list. Since drones weren’t allowed to deliver chemicals, I had to pick them up myself.
I clumsily walked out the door. I felt a breeze and realized that my zipper was down. I fixed it as the lady next door noticed and frowned. She had finally pulled the baby into her arms. I crossed the street and stepped on to the moving ‘Speed Walk’ platform. Within seconds I was at the art store.
I took the stairs as I noticed some yellow fluid seeping out of the elevator. I made haste as a cleaning drone came by.
I grabbed a can of turpentine that was floating around and a boxed set of oil paints. I also wanted to test out a new finishing spray for my artwork.
“Is that stuff lightning proof?” asked a girl near me.
“Not sure,” I responded as I finally took a look at her.
“I’m worried about burns to my outdoor sculptures. Some of the novelty weather is glitchy.” She reached past me to grab a can and I was instantly intoxicated by her hair flowing around. “Oh, so sorry about that. You’re lucky your hair is short in these times,” she added.
“Nope, not a problem. Problems are when you have to dodge Ramen noodles.”
“Yeah, I know. It was the same at the other station where I lived.”
“Hmm. Why did you move?”
“Oh, well, that’s another story.” She was looking at the can but not really focused on it.
“That’s ok.” She looked right into my eyes.
Someone near us began to float upwards as their boots ran out of power. The man hit the ceiling with his belly and gave off a loud burp.
The girl suddenly busted out in laughter.
“That’s not funny! Get help!” said the man as he burped again. He looked like he was about to throw up.
“Help is on the way,” said some computer voice out of nowhere.
“Hey, do you wanna go feed my cat?” I wasn’t going to walk away from this moment.
“I guess I can spare some time,” she responded.
“Haaalp!” said the ceiling man.
I looked at the girl and then looked towards the exit. We quickly left the room as an employee was walking in.
We paid our dues and headed for the speed walk. There were so many more objects floating around that people were selling umbrellas. We bought a huge transparent one and pointed it forward. The girl was smiling.
“Oh yeah, right, I’m Sara.”
“Dentures at 3 o’clock!”
We deflected it as an old lady yelled out, “Nooo, I need those!”
“Haha, my ex would never have found this funny.”
I tried not to react too much with that information but I’m sure she saw the smile on my face.
We stepped off the speed walk near the park.
“I’ve always wanted to try this,” said Sara as she looked up.
“Yeah, it’s one of my favorite places.”
“No, I mean I wanna float up there.” A holographic screen for her boot controls appeared.
“You know you can’t turn them back on and expect them to bring you back down.”
“C’mon we can get the trajectory.” Sara tied her shopping bag to her belt and started running as she turned off her boots.
I watched her take off at a perfect angle. I did the same. I guess we’d get caught by the canopy if we missed.
There was an elevator that travelled sixty stories up. To get down you had the option of using a slide which I never used because they never efficiently cleaned the latest vomit.
I saw Sara catch the guard rail on the platform. I was almost there but I messed up.
“Um, a little help!” I yelled as Sara noticed and reached out to grab my hand. I was going to miss the rail.
“Thanks,” I said as I hopped over the rail.
We turned on our gravity boots and grabbed one of the high tables as a waitress stopped by.
“Welcome to ‘Feed My Cat’. Due to our gravity problem we’ll be serving our drinks in ‘Sippy’ cups,” said the waitress.
“Cool, I’ll have The Blue Stuff,” said Sara
“I’ll have a Kerouac,” I responded.
I double-checked that my shopping bag was tied securely to me and then looked up. I was caught off guard when I realized that Sara was already looking at me.
“So you paint?” she asked
“Yeah, mostly still life. Things like dentures and squirrels in the sky. You?”
“I sculpt life sized flowers and trees. My latest project is called Medusa in the Garden.”
“Wow. I like that.”
As she began explaining the rest of her concept, I couldn’t help but stare at her hair floating around again. Her red curls looked like waves. I felt as if I was in a dream.
We spoke about so many other artsy things. We got into movies, music and what we actually did for a living. Eventually she mentioned that she had a son and that he was with someone when she taught during the day.
“Hey, come along with me. You can meet him,” she said.
“Sure,” I responded.
We paid our tab as the waitress recommended using the slide. I frowned.
“I have a better idea,” said Sara.
We soon found ourselves at the edge of the platform holding on to the handrail. We were going to make a trajectory towards the babysitter’s house which was a mile away.
“Hold on to my hand. I’ll guide you,” said Sara as she got ready to kick off. “And go.”
“Um, we might be off by a block or two,” she added.
We shot off through the sky. There were still leaves floating everywhere. The hydroponic sun was beginning to fade. There was a drone nearby that announced that they had fixed the gravity and that we would gradually be returning to normal. Anyone still caught in the sky would slowly fall to the ground.
“Wait, what’s that?” I asked
“It smells like-”
“It’s chocolate and pumpkin of course,” said Sara as we darted through pieces of heart shaped candy. In the past this used to be two separate holidays.
In about a minute we reached the sidewalk. We turned on our gravity boots and started walking the rest of the way.
“I actually live down this street,” I said.
“Cool. Maybe I should just hire you to watch my son,” she responded.
We laughed as we noticed a few elders that were still floating down from the sky. We continued walking until we reached the house that was next to mine.
“Ha, I actually live right next door,” I said.
Sara rang the doorbell and out came my neighbor holding the baby. I kept a smile on my face even though I was sure that she remembered me laughing earlier.
“Hi mom,” said Sara.
“Oh, hi . . . mom,” I said.
Her eyes were piercing me slowly.
“This is Tim. We met today. He might watch Mathew sometime,” said Sara. “Just kidding. If he wants to,” added Sara as she nudged me with her elbow.
Her mom’s face was still the same.
“And maybe I’ll cook sometime too. And I don’t mean 3D printed food,” I said.
Her mom’s expression suddenly changed. She cracked a tiny smile. The door opened a little wider and she invited us to follow her in.
“I know I missed something,” whispered Sara.
“I’ll tell you a story later,” I whispered.
Me and Sara smiled at each other as we walked through the door with gravity finally returning.