The law of the land was to never look up at the sky – always keep your eyes on the ground. It was a redundant law really, staring at the ground wasn’t going to make any difference should the sky decide to swallow you up. But fear was an illogical thing, and once the base was set, people often forgot to question it. This law was about as old as Aiga itself, dating back to when the sky supposedly carried the sinners off into it. It was all very questionable really. Did falling into the sky really justify branding them as sinners?
Aida considered himself a simple man with simple hopes; that his son Age finds happiness and to one day fly. Perhaps the latter one wasn’t so simple. Unlike the rest of the inhabitants of Aiga, Aida found the sky not as a source of fear, but as a thing of beauty. He loved staring up at the sky any chance he got, and didn’t care a bit what other people thought of this fascination. His love of the sky had even passed its way down to his son, allowing the two of them to spend time together enjoying a common interest.
His wife hadn’t been as accepting of this quick. She left him soon after Age was born, not wanting to have anything to do with him or their son. He hadn’t been sad to come home one day to a home emptier by one person. Though they had married, there wasn’t any love in the relationship, at least not from his end. He’d liked her well enough, and besides the sky thing, had tolerated each other enough to have a functional relationship. Though, as of right now there was only one person he trusted with his secret dream. Age was the only one who knew he wished to one day fly into the sky above.
It was such an important thing to him that he kept it close to his heart, and only trusted those close in his heart with it. It was very unlikely he’d ever get to fly, but he could dream none the less. Dreaming was all he could do in this world besides simply surviving, but just living day to day wasn’t enough. After all, was that really living?
Life in Aiga was built around routine, so nothing abnormal usually happened. Generally speaking, the wildest thing to happen in day to day life was the automated sidewalk breaking down, halting traffic until the issue was resolved, or people remembered they could walk to work with their own legs. With that logic in mind, Aida froze at the peculiar sight. A man dressed in strange clothing, but otherwise no different from him in appearance clung to the chain links of the fence gaiting off the pit. He was positioned upside down, but he didn’t look the slightest bit dizzy. Even stranger was the rope attached to his belt, it was falling towards the sky.
He’d heard about these people; the inverted. The so-called sinners who fall into the sky. And here he now face to face with one such inverted. He had to blink a few times just to make sure he wasn’t dreaming, that this was indeed real.
“Um, hello there.” The inverted man said in an awkward greeting. “I’m Lagos.”
“Oh, I’m Aido, nice to meet you.” He replied.
Tentatively he took cautious steps to bring himself closer to Lagos. Realistically Lagos was probably the more nervous of the pair, as he didn’t exactly have many options of escape after all, of if even half of the information on inverted was fact, he was the one who was in the most danger. But logic didn’t exactly have the loudest voice in situations like this. Lagos didn’t outright show his nervousness like Aido did, but there was a nervous tick to the way his hands gripped the gate a little tighter as he approached.
“You really are inverted” Aido said absentminded.
“From my perspective, you’re the inverted one here.” Lagos pointed out.
There was something about how obvious that statement was that caused the tension to bleed out in a fit of laughter. They stayed like that for a moment, letting out the last of their nerves in bubbles of snorting and laughter.
“The surface really is pretty, albeit terrifying.” Lagos said.
Aido hummed in acknowledgment. He didn’t fully understand Lagos’ fears, but he was the one with his feet on the ground, not the ceiling that always had the potential to give way at any moment, no matter how sturdy it was.
“Is it foolish of me to want to share this with Patema and the others?”
“Only if It’s foolish to want to share my world with you.” He replied.
Though they only knew each other a short time, Lagos felt like an old friend he’d known from childhood. Lagos had told him about his home under the surface and of the girl Patema he considered to be a daughter of sorts. In turn he told him about his home of Aiga and his son Age, who was about Patema’s age. He’d never felt his close to anyone other than Age before, not even his wife had allowed him to be this open before.
He loved it.
“Then I guess we’re a pair of fools then.” Lagos joked. He laughed in agreement.
“Wanting to share this world is tame, nothing compared other foolish dreams.” Aido wasn’t sure what compelled him to say that, but the words left his lips before he realized it.
“Really, and what foolish dream so you have?” Lagos asked.
He hesitated for a moment. “I dream of flying. Of going up into that brilliant blue sky and looking down at the ground and seeing how small everything is.”
It was a foolish, improbable dream really, but it was his treasured dream. He’d never let anyone tarnish it with fear and doubt.
“Ahh, well I think it sounds like a nice dream.” Lagos replied.
He looked at Lagos wide-eyed, unbelieving of what he’d just heard his friend say.
“I’d be happy to help you achieve it, as long as you promise to tell me what it’s like being up that high.” Lagos continued, smiling.
He felt as though he was going to cry. Age was too young to understand the implications of his dream, but Lagos… Lagos understood his yearning, and excepted it.
“I’d be more than happy to.”
Welding the last cylinder to the base, both were about ready to call it good for the day. The flying machine was coming together, the finished project would be an amalgamation of Aigan and Inverted materials, but for now the two were separate.
It was still a shock to have Lagos with him here permanently. He could see it in the other man’s eyes, the homesickness that only time could heal. He knew at the very least Lagos was missing Patema. If he were in Lagos’s place, Aido was certain he would be missing Age if nothing else. He wasn’t sure he could miss Aiga, the land where his interests were rejected. But Lagos’s home was different, even if his interest deviated from the norm he was still welcome.
Aido hoped one day to visit such a place, and bring Age with him. Would the other Inverted be as inviting to them as Lagos said they would be?
He felt his eye wander over to Lagos, who had his back turned to him. Lately, he’d started feeling lonely when he wasn’t with the inverted man, even when he was with Age. He wasn’t sure when it started, but now he yearned to spend every moment with the person who validated his precious dream. He didn’t dare act any different around him, for fear of rejection. He didn’t want to lose the friendship they’d cultivated over his stupidity.
The friendship between them felt all around more wholesome than what he’d had with his wife. Was this normal to feel around close friends? He was unused to the concept of even having friends. In this world, in Aiga, you muted your emotions with indifference, hiding yourself away until the day you died. It was a sad, downright lonely existence that left you wanting more in life.
Looking away, he grabbed his bag.
“I’ll be heading out soon, if there anything you want me to get you before I come back tomorrow?” He asked.
Aido was taken by surprise when his friend pulled him into a hug (or what counted as a hug between them) before sliding his hands down(up?) to cup his face.
“You hang up over things too much.” The inverted man said before kissing him. “It’s alright to be afraid, bu if you feel strongly enough, then act.”