By E. F. S. Byrne

I started walking sideways thanks to a toddler and a well-built man with tattoos. My mother would have pushed straight through them. I was all grown up now, but without her hand to hold me I still squirmed and sought her reassurance. 

They came at me with a force and determination that made my knees shake and my shoulders shrivel from the threat of contact. The kid aimed for my ankles like a dog about to pee; then his mother arrived unexpectedly, pushing the buggy to block my escape. The man with Elisa tattooed on his forehead bore along the pavement, holding the child tight by the hand while his chest threatened to barrel into mine. I had no choice but to step aside, and found myself straying into the bicycle lane, then further out onto the street. Cars hooted, tongues fraught with screams and ferocious yelling that bit the air clean like lightning forking through trees. They wandered away unrepentantly as I fought with the traffic and found my footing in the gaps no one noticed. I never looked back.

Walking sideways proved easy. It was simply a question of focus. I stopped looking at people swaying and bobbing, lurching and slobbering all over the sidewalk. I turned them into shapes that moved in straight lines while I did the same, in another dimension. They were coming towards me; I was stepping aside so we never intersected. Our paths never crossed, our hips never joined. I avoided contact like the plague and was far healthier as a result.

My confidence twirled: I floated high, out of sight, weaving and twisting through the melee. Having conquered the streets, I decided to explore the dimensions of my office. My ratings soared. My investments rocketed. I was nearly promoted. I squished my eyes into pinpricks, then sidestepped all sharp angles as I turned the financial maze into a rising curve. Nobody seemed to notice my gliding figure: they were all too intent on squeezing their way through a narrow funnel.

When I started walking up walls, I realised my powers were invincible, my steps untraceable. It was time to make the money work for me and not just the accountants. They didn’t spot my figure as I sprang over their shoulders, pranced like a shadow across the window panes, all the time moving investments with equal panache and oblique manoeuvers.  

One early morning, coffee cup still in hand, I strode right up to the roof and hung there staring into space, dirty brown shoes, polished black heels, chests with scanty tops or bulging promises which I ignored in the exhilarated weightlessness of floating like an angel, wafting like the devil above mere mortals. I was King of the sidewalk. I didn’t even have to shuffle for space in a crowded lift: I walked straight down the side of the building, toes clenching sheer glass, neatly curling around metal studs, gripping them as if they were the shiny, clean doorknobs that no longer stood in my way. 

Time vanishes as I soar across the trees in the park, glittering like a swan, soaring like a magpie in search of a nest. With the pulsing urges of a vampire, I alight before gorging, then skip away unseen. My mother mightn’t approve; she always said I needed friends, but one nimble side step, and now I am marching full steam ahead without them.

About the author

E. F. S. Byrne works in education and writes when his teenage kids allow it. He blogs a regular micro flash story. Links to this and over fifty published pieces can be found at or follow him on Twitter @efsbyrne.

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