Jetlag

by Oliver Flint


          The memories are faded now. No longer a continuous action, the memories come in the form of individual images: still-lives of past lives, coalescing into some semblance of meaning.

          A sunrise over Lake Michigan. The cold water, in the form of a rising wave, threatening to drown me but never moving forward.

          A brisk night, looking over the city from the rooftop of a parking garage. My happiness, in the form of a beautiful girl, threatening to connect but never closing the gap.

          My watch keeps ticking, metronomically keeping time to my mental slide show. 

          She always hated the sound of my watch; I find it soothing. 

          An electronic ring snaps me out of my nostalgia; the ‘Fasten Seat Belt’ sign is on. I put my phone on airplane mode as I half-heartedly learn in-flight safety tips from the too-enthusiastic flight attendants. I check my watch; the trip is only ninety minutes, but Atlanta is an hour ahead. My eyes close again, and I’m back on the lake: bobbing up but never down, having perhaps treaded water at some point but now merely suspended, waiting for the wave that will never crash, the lips that will never touch.

          By the time my eyes open again, we’re grounded beneath the Mason-Dixon Line. 

          Another series of images flashes before me. 

          An airport terminal. A sea of faces, of friendly employees and disgruntled passengers. A young child wearing a backpack leash, being corralled by a young millennial.

          Baggage claim. The slow churn of people being reconnected with their clothes and cosmetics. The small clumps of unclaimed, neglected bags collected around the edges, leaned against the metal fences.

          A car ride home. The lights of the Atlanta skyline, blurring together in the growing distance between me and my way back.

          When I’m back in the world of movement, I’m in my house. I check my watch: it’s eleven o’clock.

          No, midnight.

          Something is on the TV. An old gameshow or something. A woman who is unironically ecstatic about being able to place a vowel. At least someone is winning.

          The next morning, and the next one, and the next one, flow together. Nothing connects; nothing moves. I can feel myself receding into the depths of ambivalence, suffocating under the weight of the fragments of a life. Everything has already past because I’m still an hour behind; despite my best attempts, I’m still on Chicago time.

Author Biography: Oliver Flint is not traditionally handsome. He is a senior at Milton High School and plans to study political science in college. His hobbies include debate, watching Wes Anderson films, and, occasionally, writing.