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To Walk On A Tightrope

by JackdawRC


The sleepwalker left her bedroom at precisely twelve minutes before midnight. She flew down the apartment stairs with the rhythm of water. Her unbrushed hair was like wind as it bounced of her back. Against the cement, the bare feet running, running, tapping a code into the sidewalk.

Barely any time had passed. The sleepwalker floated lightly into a tall, glass skyscraper and passed between the doors of the elevator. They swished shut. The enclosure was transparent. Outside, the sky was nice and dark, the air nice and electric. There was no storm, but there was energy, like the kind in ink. The writer rode up to the sixty sixth floor. It was a time for enigmatic numbers.

A strange smile hung off the sleepwalker's face. She was dreaming that she was running across a vast expanse of ice. The sky had become a slate and frozen over. Her toes hooked onto the stars. Down the hall. There was a room, gaping, open mouthed, as though saying, “Is it really you?”

“Yes,” murmured the sleepwalker, happily. She allowed her dream to lead her in, past the desk without any family pictures, past the hazy, black computer, past the dull, dead calendar, towards the window. Her fingers found the latch easily. She swung the glass panel outwards. Somewhere, the eyelid of a sixty six floored skyscraper was being opened. The eye leaned her torso out, until she was so precariously suspended she looked like laundry.

A telephone line waited, a foot below her. It stretched somewhere the sleepwalker couldn't see. She yanked the heavy curtains. From above, heaven above, the pole came crashing down. The sleepwalker heard waves. She was beside the ocean, on it's frothy, shell fragmented edge. The water licked her heels. She sprang forward on her toes. Don't let the water catch you, a voice in her head teased. She ran.

Her foot emerged, past the boundaries of the dark office, into the sky. It was not her space. Still, she intruded, weightlessly, quietly. So invisibly it couldn't have been considered as intrusion as all. The dark clouds rolled past, the shadows of their underbellies like knitted sweaters. Somewhere, halfway across the world linked by telephone lines, the sun was shining. The sleepwalker shouted cheerfully to the rest of them, in their beds, trapped in their houses. No words. Just a burst of throat. Her shadow plummeted. But she was paper. She was weightless. She was like plastic wrap with a spine and a curtain pole held out before her. She matched the line with the ocean horizon living in her dreams.

And she began to walk. It was a casual saunter, a natural sway. The telephone lines lullabied beneath her. In the dream, she was walking across the ocean. The water flickered it's eyes up at her. “Not yet,” it whispered. The sleepwalker was too enraptured by the thought of her footsteps to care. The water was a cradle to her feet. And so was the air, and so was the city, the glass city, the snow globe city.

The sleepwalker reached her first telephone pole and stood on her toes above it. The current hummed beneath her. It terrified her in an exciting way. She was walking on the ocean! Who knew how deep it was beneath her? The thrill of anxiety, the thrill of knowing what you were doing simply shouldn't be done, she breathed it and lived it. But was it real?

She continued on. Five minutes passed. The city spread itself out beneath her and cold air replaced the buildings. The roads were bended and empty. She danced above the stage she'd lived on for all her life. She tiptoed over the ugly places, so beautiful from up there, up where she was. There was seaweed that could strangle her, plumes of octopus ink waiting to be propelled into her face. And there was the soft, carpet of water, playing with the puppet of moonlight, pulling the strings, making the white specks dance with the waves.

It was so fake. It was such a wonderful illusion and she didn't want it to end. The sleepwalker's wrists were sore. She was holding something, but what? A rope was cutting into her feet. She was growing heavy, heavy, heavy with awakeness.

Her eyes. They opened. One minute past midnight. And she realized that her name was Celestia, and that even someone named for the stars had no right to tread on them, and no right to be where she was, and that she was going to die because she was awake. Where was she? Why was the road so small? Celestia whirled clumsily and dropped the curtain pole. She saw all the stumps of the telephone poles. Had she really crossed that many? And then the consequence of the pivot wrapped it's lead arms around her and leaped off the ropes, dragging her towards the ugly road that had seemed so wonderful from so high above, where reality had nothing to do with her, nothing at all, the sleepwalker girl named for the stars.


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Fri Sep 16, 2016 12:16 pm
Mea wrote a review...



Hey there! I thought I'd give this a quick review today.

This has a lot of potential. It's a pretty interesting story about a sleepwalker, although the ending is more than a little depressing.

The biggest critique I have for you is your overall syntax in this piece. The written word is meant to represent sound, of course, and as such it has a rise and fall that you have to be conscious of while writing. Punctuation is key here: the difference between periods and commas, semicolons and dashes - all give a different effect to the reader, and a well-done combination of those will give the lyrical effect I think you're looking for.

However, right now it's not really working, and the main source of the problem is that your sentence structure just doesn't vary enough. When I read it in my head, the cadence feels very repetitive because all the sentences are approximately the same length and most of them are single independent clauses.

So: try to lengthen your sentences and make them more fluid by using commas. I think that will fit the tone you're trying to convey here.

The one other thing I'll say is that I think you could focus more on Celestia's feelings while she's still asleep - it'll be a really interesting contrast to the final paragraph where she's awake.

That's all I've got! Good luck, and keep writing!




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Fri Sep 16, 2016 5:07 am
Dracula wrote a review...



Hey there, JackdawRC. Welcome to the Young Writer's Society!

Her unbrushed hair was like wind as it bounced of her back.
I like the descriptive way you began this piece, it was easy for me to imagine her almost floating down the staircase like a trickling stream of water. Your writing style is perfectly suited to the dream world. Just watch out for the little details; of her back should be off her back.

Down the hall. There was a room, gaping, open mouthed, as though saying, “Is it really you?”
In some areas, your sentences are very short, almost too short. Sometimes, it would help to replace a full stop with a comma. Take the above sentences as an example, you could join them together with a comma to make them flow better: Down the hall, there was a room...

The thrill of anxiety, the thrill of knowing what you were doing simply shouldn't be done, she breathed it and lived it. But was it real?
This bit confuses me slightly. The story is perfect when I'm under the impression that she knows she is dreaming, that she's playing with the dream world. That's the impression I have throughout the whole piece, except for this part, which confuses me. The way you've worded it (plus that last question) suggests that she's not sure whether she's in a dream or awake. I reckon she should be lucid, aware that she's dreaming.

I love that her name is Celestia, it makes so much sense and makes this piece all the more beautiful. Overall, this was a joy to read. I love the fantasy-style language you used!





The blood jet is poetry and there is no stopping it.
— Sylvia Plath