Every night I dream about flying. Not like you, probably, who might imagine yourself floating over all you know, who might get a jolt when you go too high or dip too low, then wake up and try to fall asleep again. I dream as if it's happening. I spin the world beneath me. I'm faster than the birds, more agile than a gymnast. The wind pushes back, makes catching breath a fight―but it's exciting that way. Each night I see the same things: a crescent-shaped island, a ship, a lagoon, a forest. The details never change. The dream is always more vivid than my life.
When I wake, I'm sixteen. The paper clipped to the foot of my bed says my name is Andrew Smith, that I have "hostile tendencies," "schizophrenia: residual," and that I'm on a handful of medications. I'm in a room with nine other students, (inmates), at the Belleview Academy for Young Men located at 2142 Forest Street, London. The year is 2015, and my memories start in 2010. Before that: nothing. My existence as I know it begins with a concussion, three shattered ribs, and a pair of useless legs. The first half of my eleventh year, I was wheeled about like some grandpa who's next big adventure is death. The second half was spent swatting away nuns and nurses and breaking wheelchairs just so I could walk on my own again.
Everything about that year was infuriating, but mostly the fact that the nuns wouldn't let me jump off the roof. I told them I'd be fine, that I could fly; but I never got the chance. The school's security guards were always there to pull me back. The dark, stone walls of Solitary were always waiting to swallow me whole. So, after a while, I gave up. But I still dream about flying. Every night.