by Maura Yzmore

It had been nearly a year since the bodies started floating up into the air. Nobody paid much attention anymore, for the sight had become as common and just as out of people’s hands as rain or snow.

Could it be aliens? Acts of divinity? No one asked why, or how, or where the floaters went any longer. Bodies simply vanished once they passed through the dwindling ozone layer, as if they’d never existed.

Ronnie had been laid off from her job as an airport traffic controller. It was simply too dangerous to maneuver large metallic vehicles full of people through all the bones and flesh that appeared without warning. The flow of bodies had never been a torrent, more of a trickle, but the first few collisions killed everyone on board, leaving the aircrafts looking like Swiss cheese. No plane had taken off since.

Ronnie’s boyfriend Billy, who worked at the funeral parlor, had to reduce his hours and go part-time. People still died the old-fashioned way, still went into the ground. Just not as many of them as before.

Young and strong; children; elderly. No one knew if those who ascended were alive or not, only that anyone could go up, at any moment, and that was all there was to it.

After the airport had closed, Ronnie started serving drinks at a local bar, which was filled every night with people who’d lost their jobs or their loved ones, often both, and would sit down and drink and drink and drink, until Ronnie kicked them out at closing time.

Billy moved into Ronnie’s tiny apartment, so they would save money after she’d lost her job and his hours had gotten cut. Yet they spent every night burning with lust, like it was their last night on Earth, like they were teens again and not two souls in worn, tired bodies. They awoke in the morning with limbs tightly intertwined, as if trying to prevent one another from falling off Ronnie’s twin bed, a bed far too small for two adults, yet somehow exactly the right size.

When they thought the other one wasn’t looking, Ronnie and Billy glanced at each other and thought the forbidden thought, that they felt happy, the kind of happiness that permeates one’s whole body from the tips of one’s toes to the follicles in one’s hair, happier than they’d ever been. That perhaps bodies floating toward the sky was not the worst thing that could have happened. They felt guilty because they didn’t feel guilty enough over their good fortune, over the joy they felt amid the chaos and the misery and the loss that surrounded them.

And then the bodies—

The bodies just—


It was a Saturday morning, Ronnie’s day off. She woke up late, the sun already high when she walked to the window and saw Marnie from next door, feet hovering at eye level outside Ronnie’s third-floor apartment.

Ronnie noticed a pink fuzzy slipper dangling from Marnie’s foot, and felt a tightening in the pit of her stomach. The slipper would have fallen off if Marnie had kept ascending. Instead it was stuck, neither on nor off, frozen in between.

Billy joined Ronnie by the window and enveloped her in his arms.

“Look.” Ronnie pointed at the neighbor outside. “They’re not rising anymore.”

Billy squinted. “Is that Marnie?”


“Must’ve started going up sometime last night,” he said. “Her hands and feet are blue.”

“Look at her,” said Ronnie. “She’s just…there.”

They watched Marnie in silence. A still nature made of flesh, suspended in midair.

“Her slipper is about to drop,” Billy said.

“Maybe,” said Ronnie. “Maybe it just keeps dangling. Maybe it never drops.”

Billy squeezed her shoulders, then opened the window. Cool air filled the room.

He stretched as far as he could, but Marnie was out of reach. He went back inside and re-emerged with a broom, then extended the handle through the window, carefully hooked the slipper, and pulled it off Marnie’s foot.

The shoe wasn’t much bigger than Billy’s hand.

“So, what do we do with it?” asked Ronnie.

“Whatever you want,” said Billy.

Ronnie considered the slipper for a long moment, then raised her eyes to meet Billy’s.

“I want to see it drop,” she said.

Billy smiled and opened his palm, letting the shoe fall to the ground.

Ronnie stepped on it hard, placing all her weight on the foot, and turned left, right, like she was putting out a stubborn cigarette. She crushed the slipper into the floor, ripping off the fuzz, until all that was left was the bald woven fabric.

A cloud of pink fluff rose up and floated out the open window, into the sky.

Maura Yzmore writes short fiction and long equations somewhere in the Midwest. Her dark flash has appeared in Flash Fiction Online, The Arcanist, Bending Genres, and elsewhere. Find out more at maurayzmore.com or say ‘hi’ on Twitter @MauraYzmore.
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