jijijijijiOn New Year’s Eve 2019, a man plummets backwards from a twelve-story balcony and
walks away unscathed.
jijijijijiThe champagne glass he’d been clutching prior to the fall hits the sidewalk too. Its
contents sizzle into the storm drain and the glass scatters in a thousand different directions. The
man smacks the ground with his eyes open wide and fixated on the fireworks exploding
overhead, their golden eruptions, he thinks, the last thing he will ever see as he tumbles to his
death. But he isn’t dead. He should be—his friends on the balcony know this, despite being too
drunk to discern practically anything else. They peer over the railing warily, expecting a human
Jackson Pollock painting on the other end. Instead, to their shock, they glimpse a man intact. His
bones aren’t even broken, let alone bruised. Twelve stories, they whisper frantically,
jijijijijiThe story goes viral, immediately. Someone in the penthouse next door happens to catch
the majority of the fall on video and posts it online to a frenzy of media attention. Skeptics claim
the footage is doctored, the witnesses hallucinatory. Most label it a freak accident. So to prove it
to himself and the world, the man does it again—this time without the champagne. He leaps from
another balcony and lands on the asphalt below without so much as a scratch, plummeting fifteen
stories into a world of sensationalism.
jijijijijiHe is declared an oddity, an anomaly, and world is enamored. Millions watch as he
somersaults through the stratosphere, from the topmost spires of the Burj Khalifa, Taipei 101,
and the Empire State Building. He slices through the gaping valleys of the river-washed Grand
Canyon, a black dot in a sea of burnt orange. He dives from the cliffs of Niagara Falls, is tossed
from the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro, backflips off the edge of the Golden Gate Bridge. Each
time he emerges without a hint of bodily trauma and the scientists are baffled. They call him
invincible, inexplicable. He’s a million different things at once: an alien, a god, a fraud.
jijijijijiPeople stop him on the street for photos. Many touch him right before the camera flashes,
caressing his arms and shoulders without his permission and searching for fractures or even the
slightest splinter in his bones. He is featured on the cover of National Geographic, of TIME, and
of People Magazine. When the year ends and another one arrives, he signs a contract with ABC
to be featured during Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve. He is scheduled to leap out of a
helicopter circling Manhattan and land in Times Square just as the ball drops—no parachute, no
trampoline, no gimmick. Only gravity.
jijijijijiHundreds of feet above the glittering skyline, the man waits for the all-clear to jump and
gazes at a world that has become far more familiar from the air than from the ground. He
remembers the sound of the champagne glass colliding with the asphalt, the way the sky
shuddered as fireworks pounded across it violently. And as he cascades through a dark midnight
sky, he can’t help but wonder what that would feel like: to break. To shatter. For once, he wishes
he could feel everything.