396: “Bringing Those Senses” (Frances Hardinge)

                “It was a burnished, cloudless day with a tug-of-war wind, a fine day for flying. And so Raglan Skein left his body neatly laid out on his bed, its breath as slow as sea swell, and took to the sky.
                He took only his sight and hearing with him. There was no point in bringing those senses that would make him feel the chill of the sapphire-bright upper air or the giddiness of his rapid rise.”
                -Frances Hardinge, Gullstruck Island (in the US it’s The Lost Conspiracy, but that’s so much worse)

                The magic in Gullstruck Island means that some people can send their different senses out to move through different places. So your eyes could be thousands of feet up in the sky, looking down at rooftops, and your hearing could be near the soup pot with its happy bubbling.
                Lying in bed (and walking around, and sitting on the bus) in the days since I finished Gullstruck, the idea keeps coming back to me. I lie in bed and (almost) drift through the walls, listening to my neighbor’s hammering. I look out the window on the bus and see someone running, and for a moment my eyes (almost) stay with them, watching their coat swing, their cheeks grin, (almost) feeling the muscles pulling in their legs. And of course, I know what it’s like to leave a sense behind. To be so engrossed in my phone that I stop hearing what someone says, or so focused on the TV show in front of me that I keep ignoring the ache starting in my slumped back. And I know the opposite: know moments of rock climbing where I’m so intent on moving that moving is all I feel. 
                Maybe they drift around more than I usually think, these senses of ours. There’s something disembodied about this version of magic that makes me uncomfortable, but there’s also something perfectly embodied in touch dripping down over leaves, like rain, or hearing drifting on the wash of the waves. Which my hearing does, sometimes, even from out here in Illinois. Because I grew up near the coast. Does your hearing do that?

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