By Natalie Kirykowicz
Location: Art Institute of Chicago
She stands and closes her eyes. The rocking that had turned her insides for the past few hours has ceased. As she takes a deep breath, she opens her eyes and looks straight ahead. She looks at nothing. The sea is stretched in a straight line across the horizon. She imagines sailing all the way to the edge, where the sea meets the sky. She imagines sailing to the ends of the earth. She would reach the edge where the water tapers off and falls into space. She would stand on the edge and look out, seeing nothing but space and stars and freedom.
She stands on her toes and jumps out over the edge, and she is floating. Tears of joy fill her eyes as she swims through space. Earth gets farther and farther away. As she spins and flips gently through space she is surrounded by stars, and earth gets smaller and smaller in the distance. Everything that has ever weighed her down on earth has been lifted from her shoulders. She is completely at peace.
And then suddenly she stops floating, becoming standstill until she is being pulled forcefully. Earth is reappearing. It grows larger and larger in her field of vision. Before she knows it she is back at the ledge, where her tiny boat waits for her. She takes a step back onto the water, looking for one last time at the edge of space.
When she opens her eyes, she is saddened. She takes a deep breath of ocean air as she admires the horizon in front of her.
This story was written in Salli Berg Seeley’s Explore Chicago class at DePaul University in collaboration with the Chicago Literary Map.