Downhill | Strange Folk

Life is full of curves and turns and forks in the road. So many choices and never any good ones. Not Sixth Avenue. Sixth Ave is a straight line. From the top of the city down to the coast with a singular momentum, a transparent purpose; you just push off and let gravity do the rest. She looked out across the city in the predawn light, the dark purples and blacks of the night shying away from the budding ember on the horizon. She inhaled deep, past her septum piercing, filling her lungs with the salty air as her jet black hair tossed in the sea breeze. The city wasn’t quite sleeping and it wasn’t quite awake, it mumbled like a dozing lover left behind.

She looked down the length of Sixth Ave and a smile broke across her lips as she set her skateboard to the asphalt. Primed and ready, she could feel the excitement in the wheels as she placed one foot on the griptape. A gentle push was all it took. There were many ways to reach the bottom, but they all lead to the same place. Everything else was just style. As she picked up speed she could feel the wind wrap around her waist, her unzipped varsity jacket catching it like wings. Past parking structures and winking office buildings, the air ran its fingers through her hair, it’ll all be okay, it said.

The wheels roared against the asphalt, rattling up through her legs. The numbness of the vibration was kinder than any drug as she ollied up the curb. Every break in the sidewalk jolted through her like a pulse as her reflection blurred alongside her in dark storefront windows. Up ahead she could see where the sidewalk turned to steps to keep up with the street’s decline. She lowered herself on the board as she hurtled towards the stairs, potential energy filling her legs. With a fluid pop, the wheels came off the ground. The roar of the skateboard went silent as she took flight. The bottoms of her shoes flirted with the griptape in midair and her stomach jumped to try to catch her soaring heart. Just as it seemed that each piece would separate, gravity imposed order.

The wheels slammed back to the pavement with renewed vigor. With a grace and steadiness that belied its speed, the board weaved left and right beneath her center of gravity. There was rapture in the velocity. She was inertia, no other labels applied. There were no thoughts of tomorrow, or next week, or next year. Momentum made sense to her. It knew exactly what it wanted to be.

She dipped low again. Streamlined. She relished the recklessness of it as she rocketed down Sixth. The wheels on the board rebelled beneath her, straining to keep up with the asphalt. She had only a moment to process the pale outline of headlights cast on the street as she approached the intersection of Sixth and Wren. The moment was enough for her to lose balance. The world spun as she hit the ground, sending her rolling against the rough pavement. Her skateboard careened into the intersection, snapping beneath the heavy wheels of a city bus. A mess of black hair and quiet cursing. Friction burns seared through her knees and forearms. The momentum had stopped. She curled up on the street as she fought back the pain. She could still feel the movement, but she knew it had left her.

Her palms burned as she gingerly picked herself up off the asphalt. She limped past the splintered skateboard and made her way towards the beach. With each pained step, she could feel things catching up with her. Her thoughts forked in every direction as choices once again filled her mind. She sat down to watch the sunrise, warm tears burning her cheeks. As she pulled a crumpled cigarette free from her jacket pocket, she thought of tomorrow, and next week, and next year. At least one thing was clear – she’d need to get a new skateboard.

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