The Girl in: One Minute in Minnesota

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  The Girl lands hard in a field somewhere in middle-America, appearing from the crops as if they were ocean waves, choking and spluttering and gasping for the air that was sucked out of her lungs as she plummeted to safety. The sun is beating down and she can hear crickets screaming somewhere in the distance and she’s alive and safe and she can’t believe it. She doesn’t have anything to throw up, just the gnawing emptiness inside her gut screaming for salvation.

  Instinctively her fingers, tightly clamped around the cold timepiece, open, like spider legs stretching forth into the unknown, delicate and terrified at once. Beads of sweat are already forming on her forehead as she looks down at the figures counting down. Her heart drops. Safety, it seems, is a precious commodity, fate a fickle bitch. Forty-two seconds. One of her shortest stays to date, and the potential to land anywhere next time. Consecutive jumps rip her to pieces, leave her crippled for hours as the leaps take their toll. She sinks to her knees, no water in her system left to sob, and instead moans dry and miserable to herself.

  There’s a road in the distance, and The Girl watches as a van races down it, eager to get wherever it’s heading. It’s destination set, not a variable like the abyss she’s hurled into. It’s time to give up, she thinks.

  Before this train of thought can continue any longer the Girl notices the van careening off the road, crashing through the fence at the edge of the field and speeding towards her, mowing down the crops with loud and rapid thumps. She tries to get to her feet, to get out of the way, but she barely shifts at all – the last jump has left her statuesque, two eyes peering out of an immobile husk of a body.

  “It’s over?” she says, her voice sounding alien to herself. The huge grill is bearing down on her now, it’s shadow stretching over her, there’s a yell from the cabin – a man – and the driver slams on the brakes, twisting the wheel in such a way that the vehicle twists a hundred and eighty degrees, the drivers-side door spinning perfectly into place beside The Girl – a parallel park for the ages.

  There’s fifteen seconds left on the clock when the door is kicked open and a flustered woman jumps from behind the wheel and lands with a soft thud on the soil next to her. There’s a man sitting in the passenger seat behind her, looking terrified and amazed. The Girl blinks up at this figure, the sun blistering around her head from behind, a perfect halo, a dark face masked by this beautiful eclipse. The stranger picks The Girl up by her armpits and sets her on her feet, and without warning throws a duffel bag into her gut. The Girl grabs it reflexively and grunts her exertion. It’s heavy.

  There’s five seconds on the clock, give or take, when suddenly the angel reaches forward and takes The Girl in her arms, hugging her, the bag hard between both of their stomachs. The Girl instantly relaxes into it, stunned into serenity. This girl is hot, radiating a warmth that wipes the universal slate clean and invigorates The Girl from head to toe. The truck driver wets her lips audibly next to The Girl’s ear and whispers three short words.

  “I’m so sorry.”

  Flash.

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~ by Joseph Blame on October 23, 2010.

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