Atlas & Alice | Issue 3, Spring 2015
Live Feed The gate opens. The redhead is cheering for Astrid, who eventually leaves the rest of the boarders, including Drahomíra, in a powdery cloud. Drahomíra is locked into second until she's somewhere else, as if there's a rip in time. The guy next to me feels it too. She takes the tallest hill at a speed that leaves her twenty feet above the others, who are already holding unspeakable air. She hangs there, wags her arms in little circles for balance. The laymen think she's panicking. The edge of her board meets the surface of the next slippery curve, and her entire body snaps backwards as if yanked by phantom thread, her head stuttering along the ground for what feels like years, snow tidal-waving over her crucified arms, until she crumples into a motionless heap. I try to brush away the thought that she did this on purpose, that she still wants to die. My bones go numb.
Batch Capture Through the tiny screen, I watch a professional cameraman film a hairsprayed journalist, who holds Drahomíra's fissured helmet in outstretched hands as though it's an artifact. She yaps into a headset and makes owly eye contact with the TV camera. Drahomíra stands just offscreen, her palm fixed to the back of her head. “This isn't figure skating,” she says when the journalist finally asks her how she stood up and finished after that crash. Then she looks at me. She's still smiling when she walks over to me, recovered helmet tucked under her arm, but her other hand never leaves the back of her head, as if she's making sure all the precious parts of her are still there.
Dailies The blue light behind the hotel bar reminds me of an icy peak made of glowing bottles, its perfectly symmetrical shoulders infinitely sloping. I imagine a miniature Drahomíra sliding down, circling her arms like she's grown wings and is trying to take flight for the first time, too far away for us to see if she's in control. No one else is thinking this. It's midnight. Astrid, Olivia, and a few others are lined up in the bar's identical high chairs, doing vodka shots and hashing over the day's races. The crash is never brought up. Drahomíra, separated from the others by an empty seat and still wearing snow-pants and a scarf, is probably thinking about how out of place everyone looks held up by polished oak. Or she's thinking about how arrogant I was to tell her she's not allowed to do what she wants with her own life, including end it. I wonder how often she thinks about that. 72
Issue 3 | Spring 2015