A woman breathes in and breathes out all day long. Her car stinks, cookie crumbs sprinkled on the seats, island-shaped coffee spills on the carpet, but she breathes in and out anyway. She deeply shares the world’s intentions to fight global warming, racism, social discrimination, but she labels her selfies with copy-pasted signs, extravagant fonts every time, and breathes in and out anyway. She craves to have a partner who can take care of her, that’s exactly how she puts it, take care of her, and breathes in and out anyway. Her yoga instructor told her, to breathe in and out anyway. So, she breathes in and out anyway, when she scrolls her timeline, drooped over a plate of brown rice with cashew nuts, when she’s glued on the toilet seat trying to figure out why her life is a loop. She breathes in and out anyway, when she can’t get the likes she wants, even if she paid for them. She breathes in and out anyway, when she loses a friend from the burst of a tiny vein in the brain.
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How to levitate
She tells all her friends she’s going to levitate one day. Like those Buddhist monks squeezed in cave holes millions of miles away, in places where sunsets mean something, and trees have a life other than the provision of oxygen to not-to-be-trusted humans. And she levitates. Why not? This is fiction. Gravity has no meaning on a page. She really levitates, over the whole neighbourhood, over those two guys smashing each other’s noses while arguing over a parking space, over that middle-aged woman hanging her stainless-steel pots under the sun to dry, over that young man talking to his overprotective mother on the phone, saying things like ‘How do you expect me to find a wife, it’s a jungle out there!’ The levitated woman breathes in and out anyway, even if she has accomplished the impossible, she’s in the sky, hellooooo, going up and up and up, cutting through the sixpack of a gigantic paper man, now moonwalking next to a plane, in the clouds, on the clouds, through the clouds, cruising from white puff to white puff, spinning around, but, guess what, a sudden noise, the levitated woman’s phone is ringing. The levitated woman always answers her phone; who doesn’t? especially if they are levitating. The levitated woman now starts to lose ground, she’s falling, falling right on that young man talking to his overprotective mother, she’s squashing him, his bones, the whole spine, the young man’s phone now flaps on the asphalt like a fish, his mother’s voice, the only voice in this story left, shrieking through the cloud-bleached screen, ‘What do you expect? What do you expect huh? A woman to suddenly fall from the sky?’
Maria A. Ioannou is a writer based in Cyprus. Her publications include two short fiction collections and a fairytale (Emerging Writer State Prize 2012). Her short fiction ‘Pillars’ was a Best Small Fictions nominee and her work has appeared in The Cabinet of Heed, The Hong Kong Review, SAND, Asymptote, Tiny Molecules, and elsewhere. She holds a PhD in Creative Writing and she is currently an ECR Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Winchester.