GRAVITY

Krishan Coupland's flash fiction piece pictures a time where gravity's longstanding reign starts to collapse. Illustrated by Señor Salme.

Gravity started reversing. It happened slowly, in increments day by day. At first you would hang for just a second longer than usual at the apex of a jump. Feathers and dust and the broken nibs of pencils refused point-blank to fall. Water wobbled slowly from the tap like golden syrup. I thought it was fun when I found that I could jump from the top of the stairs and drift gently down through the air like a seed.

Everything would change, of course. Everything. Mum and Dad argued about it in the living room. We glued down our ornaments and wore weights in our shoes. When the breakfast table hovered up off the floor, Mum fetched another bowl of sugar to pin it down. Our beds were unstable life rafts. Little Emily drifted up out of her crib like a tiny, gurgling balloon.

Sooner or later, said Dad, our heaviest shoes would not be heavy enough. When we fell it would be up, not down. Up into space, our house and our car and our apple tree falling with us. Emily giggled happily from the ceiling, playing with the water bubbles and the dust bunnies that collected there. Better to go of our own free will, said Dad. And so one day we packed a picnic — sandwiches pinned together with cocktail sticks, crackers and apples and boxes of juice — and set off across the fields. I took giant steps, leaping treetop high and flipping over in the air until I was dizzy and hot. At the top of the hill a white wind turbine stood silent, still as an upright snake.

Up we go, kids, said Mum. And up we went. Dad carried Emily on his back, and Mum carried the picnic basket. We would leap up, drift, find grip on the smooth metal skin of the turbine and push up again, as easy as swimming. At the very top we settled and waited, and Mum gave us sandwiches and fed mushy peas to Emily. We watched the sunset melting buttery into the horizon. Not long now, said Dad. As darkness fell we stood up and joined hands. I felt so light, like I was made of nothing but dandelion seeds and air. The sky was red. We kicked off our shoes and waited to see where we'd fall.



'Gravity' was published in Popshot's 9th issue, The Imagination Issue, which has now sold out. To ensure that you never miss a future issue of the print magazine, subscribe from just £10 a year.