Forty-Five Seconds by Shawn Q

Bzz… I heard the machine turn on. I was waiting for this moment. The moment that took the one law that I obeyed my entire life, it took it away from me. The law of gravity.

Okay… Maybe I should go back a few frames. My father and I were at iFly Singapore, the home of the largest vertical wind tunnel in the world. A wind tunnel creates artificial wind in a certain direction for different purposes. In our case, to fly. We had to wait in line for some time. Every minute felt like years as I was imagining the experience in my head.

Oh boy! Finally I can finally fly!

My dad and I planed this for almost one whole year now! I just couldn’t wait.

Let’s just say, the wait was longer than expected. We first had to go through training on solid ground before we could enter the tunnel. An instructor trained us by the name of Jason Lim. He made sure that we understood everything before we went in.

Admittedly at the time I didn’t really appreciate his guidance, all that went through my mind was come on!

Get it over with already! I thought as he went over safety, I came here to fly, be free!

But looking back, I realized how dangerous it would be if I hadn’t gone through the training. Soon after, we got our suits. I had to wear a red jumpsuit, a helmet, earplugs, and goggles.  I heard the machine turn on through my earplugs. I was first.

I stared wide-eyed at the tunnel, and then I swallowed hard.

Why did I think that this is a good idea again?

My father looked at me, he sensed my nervousness.

“It’s alright, don’t worry,” he said in a calming voice.

“But… What if…” I stuttered.

“Go, and don’t look back,” he said.

I grinned goofily.

My dad sure knows how to make me smile; this was actually a quote from Terminator Genesis, a movie that we watched recently.

            I’m running out of time.

Instructor Lim beckoned me to come forward, even though he was yelling at the top of his lungs, all I heard was a distant whisper.

“Come on! You got this!” He yelled.

I reluctantly spread my arms.

What came next wasn’t a shout, or a scream, but an unexpected command.


Now or never.

I took the plunge.


Twenty-four hours before I was stuck indoors doing math homework, now I was defying the laws of gravity, flying indoors.  I felt an invisible force pushing me upwards, I couldn’t see it, but I could feel it, from the flap of my hair, from the whistle of the wind, and the foreign force against my limbs and torso.

When you picture freefalling, you would probably picture it as easy. But if you were to actually try, you would say otherwise. Even hovering takes a tremendous amount of effort.


As I attempted to hover in place, I felt a strain in my arms, and burn in my back from the pushing force. I tried to reposition my arms. Bad mistake. I shoot to the ceiling. Even though I’m wearing goggles, the wind still manages to sneak it’s way into my goggles.

Oh gosh… Not now!

I felt my eyes tearing up. My heart pounded against my chest in anticipation of my imminent fall.  Against all odds, I still manage to stay in place!

Until a few seconds later, when my arms gave way.


I fell the equivalent of two floors, until the wind caught me again. Almost as if it was toying with me and letting me know that I was in the palm of its hand, but I didn’t mind.

“Egg yolks okay?” I saw the instructor mouth.

Wait… What? Why would he…?

He mouthed it again, “Are you okay?”

I nodded

If you’ve done the same thing as I have, you would know what I mean. You know how good it feels, to be free from the tight grasp of gravity. You know what it’s like to be a bird, soaring above.

You know what it feels like to be free.


It took me just forty-five seconds to experience freedom.

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