Swiping Up

by Renee Agatep


From my window, I watched him fall. He tried to jog up to the doorway of my unit and tripped and fell on the balcony for no reason at all. I saw his face in terror, in confusion.

The moment before people fall, yes, that is really something. That is all I’ve photographed since. I set up an elaborate network of booby traps across Miami and rigged them with hidden finish line cameras. I’ve tripped thousands, maybe even millions. I’ve spent months sifting through countless faces so afraid of pain just before they smash into the pavement.

But how fine a thing it will be to watch the one who begins to fall, to see their countenance completely unchanged.

I will know them by the way they surrender with joy for the fleeting moment. In photo finish, they will accept the inevitability of walkway collisions with serenity. They will close their eyes, memorizing the wind of gravity’s grace passing their cheek.

That is the sort of person who will love me.


Renee Agatep is a writer and teacher living in Florida. Her recent work appears or is forthcoming in Ellipsis Zine, FlashFlood, Perhappened, Dear Damsels, Rust + Moth, Dunes Review, Malarkey Books, Versification, and others. Renee earned her master’s at Northeastern University and is currently studying creative writing at the University of Central Florida. You can find her on Twitter @GoingbyRenee.


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What surprising, fascinating stuff can you tell us about the origin, drafting, and/or final version of “Swiping Up”?

The original draft of this story started out as a bit of navel-gazing in a since-abandoned novel. I wrote it while living in Miami, which is no place for romantics. But what place is?

Years later, I reimagined that segment as a short story—taking the premise from contemplation into action. Thinking about people’s faces while falling became much more interesting as “Swiping Up”—setting booby traps for impossible soul mates.


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