My first memory is of flying over the garden wall. It’s one of those memories that are so vivid you could be watching them on film. I’m playing in the sandpit my granddad made me and I see a ginger cat jump over the wall into next door’s garden. I know I can’t jump over walls so I stand up, drop my bucket and spade, and spread my wings. There’s a smell of soil and pollen and I can hear the birds in the trees. I hover, watching the cat slink along the lawn next door.
“Just because it’s a false memory, it doesn’t mean it’s not real,” Sarah said, pulling back her thick, red hair. I watched the muscles in her arms flex as she tied it up and then leant forward on her elbows. “You’ve got another reality, that’s all. And,” she said, stirring her coffee, “you’re wasting it. Have you tried flying since?”
I must have frowned or something because she rolled her eyes. “I mean have you tried it in your head? Look,” she said, pushing our coffee cups out of the way and pointing towards the hedge. “Fly over. Go and see what’s next door.”
“What?” I said. “I can’t.”
“Bullshit,” she said, shaking her head. “Of course you can. You followed the ginger cat.” I didn’t reply. I looked at her, all serious with those enormous green eyes, and I realised I didn’t want to disappoint her. I wanted her to come for coffee with me tomorrow and the next day and the day after that. I looked at the hawthorn just above the couple’s heads, the impossible blue of the summer sky above it. And I floated, just like that, over the table, over the hedge, spreading my wings when I reached the top and hovering there like a kestrel. Next door there was another café with red Formica tables and those flimsy metal chairs, a few people eating breakfasts and some bees buzzing around a lemonade glass. A few beats of my wings and I was over the fence on the other side: the back of the chippy with its concrete yard and huge black bins. A man in a red and white striped apron clutched his chest and slid down the wall, his face contorted in pain.
“Sarah!” I said. I didn’t feel myself coming back but I was there with her again, staring into her green eyes with my heart pounding in my chest. “We need to call an ambulance. The man in the chip shop...”
“I did,” she said. “Didn’t you hear me?”
“How did you know?”
“You can fly,” she said with a shrug.
I stared at her.
She stared back.
“Yes,” she said, pulling her chair back and draping her cardigan over her arm.
“Coffee. Tomorrow. Same time. That’s what you were thinking, right?” She grinned and walked away from the table without looking back.
This story was first published in Scraps, the National Flash Fiction Day Anthology, 2013