At the end of that second rotationhe was pretty sure it was only twoBrownlaw felt the big hands lock around his arms and fling him out the window.
The air was cool and he felt absolutely alone. His first thought was that he could stop his fall using pure willpower.
And it seemed to be true. He focused all of his will on staying up. Up! Up! Up! Raising his arms, Robbie clawed the sky and felt his body suspended in the great liberty of air. He wasn't falling at all, but moving forward with good speed, and for an instant he wondered if he might collide with the building across the street. Or maybe even crash through a window, land on his feet and get back to the Sorrento before the waitress took away his lunch.
Then Brownlaw came to the end of his outward momentum. There was no hesitation, no moment of suspension. Just a heavy pivot of weight and down he went.
Fast, then faster. He had never felt such speed before, nothing close to this. Faster still. Robbie Brownlaw, on his back now with his arms spread and his hands reaching for nothing, watched the top of the Las Palmas rise up into the gray clouds and felt his ears bend forward in the awesome velocity of descent. He understood that he was now in the hands of something much larger than himself if he was in any kind of hands at all.
He thought of his young wife, Gina, with whom he was ferociously in love. He understood that the power of their love would be a factor in the outcome here. It seemed impossible that their days together were about to come to an end. Something like relief flowed through Robbie and as the clouds rose away from him he tried to figure his estimated time of arrival. Sixteen feet per second? But is that only at first? Surely you accelerate. How high is a story in an old hotel? The phrase "two more seconds" came into his mind.
But in spite of Robbie's belief that he would live to love Gina for years to come, a more convincing idea now flashed into his brain: this is it.
He suddenly believed in the God he had doubted for all his life, his conversion completed in a fraction of a second.
Then, he let go. He felt insight and understanding: he saw that his first five years of life had been happy, that his childhood had been filled with wonder, his teenage years were a search for freedom, his young adulthood had been a storm of confusion and yearning for love, his twenties a happy grind of Gina and friends and Gina and friends and Gina and Gina and Gina and Robbie plummeted through the screams of sirens and alarms and onlookers and crashed through the faded red awning over the entrance to Las Palmas Hotel like an anvil through a bed sheet and hit the sidewalk with a cracking echoless thud.
© T. Jefferson Parker
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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