‘Down to Earth’ by Olga Balaeva

Still shaken and dizzy, gasping for breath, she cautiously glanced down. It wasn’t bad at all. As she went a bit higher, she even started to enjoy the view – it was like taking off from Dublin airport, no plane involved this time. The city looked prettier from above: orderly rows of red-brick houses enveloped in the orangey light of streetlamps and the deep blue of the descending dusk.
       The iconic white of the Ha’penny Bridge – crossing the river one last time.
       The roasty smell of freshly-brewed Guinness in crisp spring air – one last breath.
       Students hurrying through the gates of Trinity College, looking more preoccupied than they should be – one last smile at how happy and oblivious they are.
       Oh that chilly breeze on the canal – she really must button up her coat and hurry, focusing on that nice cup of tea awaiting her at home. She smiled at the thought – only to shudder a moment later – her palate is now numb to the warmth of tea.
       The notorious 16 turning the corner – she got to leg it, there won’t be another one coming soon. She dashed – only to be reminded that she now had no legs to run.
       It started drizzling, and the city, sunk into a cloud of rain droplets, looked blurry.
       She felt dizzy again, and light: some gentle but irresistible force had picked her up and was now pulling her higher and higher into the vast endless sky. The 16 was now no more than a yellow peck in the misty distance. She panicked, her dizziness gone in a blink. Stop!!!! Her soul was splitting with pain and silently screaming of her own helplessness as the Dublin skyline was inexorably slipping further and further away. Oh she would give anything for that walk home in biting wind. There was nothing she wanted more than that rush for the 16 – how cosily and gratefully she would settle on the upper deck, ready for the endless crawl through the city.
       Alas, the coffin lid had been slumped shut, and clumps of clay had fallen heavily and unceremoniously upon it – no way back now, no path down. Only upwards.

Olga Balaeva lives in Dublin, Ireland. Born and raised in Moscow, Olga studied Linguistics and European Literature at Moscow State University followed by a Master’s programme in the English Language at Oxford University. Olga has a great love for languages, Irish culture and heritage as well as nature. Olga published a book about the Irish language in 2017. In her free time, Olga likes hiking in the West of Ireland, reading and doing creative writing. Follow Olga on Twitter @OlgaAsGaeilge.

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