The International Writers Magazine: Dreamscapes Fiction
Jeannine M. Pitas
One spring afternoon while walking home from school, Anna found a wing. It sat on the sidewalk like an old piece of furniture left out for any passer-by to claim. But it was not an old piece of furniture; it was as big as a cello, covered with white feathers and jewels, gleaming.
It was so perfect that she knew it could not have come from anything else but an angel. She stooped down and gingerly picked it up, already straining under the weight of her book-laden schoolbag. The wing was heavier than she’d expected, and she wobbled a bit as she stood up and began to walk back in the direction of her house.
It was only when she was about to make the turn onto her street that she began to feel worried. How on earth would her mother react to her bringing a discarded angel wing into the house? Her mother was the kind of person who couldn’t stand seeing a single moth indoors, who shooed the birds away from her own garden. She would not react well to this. And so, instead of turning the corner, she continued walking forward, up the hill to the big brown house where Mrs. Solis lived.
Anna had been close with Mrs. Solis from the time she was very small. She was, after all, the one who had brought her into the world- she was the town’s most sought-after midwife- and she was the one that Anna went to whenever she had troubles of any kind. When her teacher placed her in detention for having forgotten her homework, when the other girls whispered and ignored her during lunch, when her own mother was so busy digging up weeds in the garden that she did not even notice her daughter standing and watching her, Anna always turned and trudged up the hill to the big brown house, ambled up the stairs and knocked on the door. She knew that in this house there would always be tea and cookies, a listening ear, and sound words of advice.
“Well, it’s definitely an angel’s wing, no doubt about that,” Mrs. Solis muttered. It glistened as she lifted it in the air, inspecting it from all sides.
“But how did it get here?” Anna wanted to know. “Angels don’t just lose their wings like kids lose teeth…Do they?”
“It’s not something that happens often, but it isn’t unheard of,” Mrs. Solis responded.”
“Well, you know that all angels are born without wings. They only grow after a period of time, and they’re loose at first. Later, as the angel grows up and comes to know himself better, the wings harden. It hurts, of course, just like it hurts a baby to grow teeth. But then they don’t fall off, ever.”
“So are you saying that when the angel is young, he might lose his wings?”
“If he’s careless, yes. That seems to be what happened here.”
Anna noticed the look of concern in Mrs. Solis’s dark eyes, but she could not resist the temptation. “I want to try on that wing.”
Mrs. Solis shook her head sternly. “No, Anna.”
“But why not?”
“It isn’t safe. Didn’t I just tell you that the angel who dropped this must have been careless?”
“But that careless angel doesn’t have anything to do with me. I won’t be careless.”
“What, do you think you’ll be able to fly? With only one wing? You certainly won’t get very far.”
“I don’t care how far I get. I just want to try it out.”
Mrs. Solis shook her head. She’d always loved Anna; she knew that she was different from the other children in the town. It was against her better judgment, but in the end she gave in.
“Come back here tomorrow at this time, and I’ll see what I can do.”
Anna went home feeling so giddy that her mother’s indifference no longer disturbed her; the next day in school she sat on the edge of her seat, staring her teacher in what looked like rapt attention but was really just anticipation of what was to come. Once the final bell rang, she took off running out the door and up the hill. When she got to the brown house, she found Mrs. Solis out in the front, waiting for her.
“I did the best that I could,” Mrs. Solis said. She’d attached the wing to a homemade harness of rope and leather with a string to control its motion. “I hope this works.”
She helped Anna to fasten the harness to her body. “You can try it out, but please, don’t go too far,” she added. Anna’s heart raced as she began to manipulate the string with one hand and to lift the other, and immediately her feet lifted off the ground.
“I guess I can fly with one wing after all!” She laughed as her feet dangled above Mrs. Solis’ head.
“Careful, Anna,” Mrs. Solis warned.
All of a sudden Anna felt the wing brush against some leaves, and she realized that she was flying straight into the oak tree. But, she did not panic; she caught her balance before she could fall and steered forward, then continued to ascend above the trees, above the big brown house, above the entire little hill until Mrs. Solis was just a tiny moth fluttering as she beckoned Anna to come back down. Anna saw her own house, her school, the church’s steeple, the park where the girls were surely gathered; she wondered if any of them could see her. She was so amazed by this aerial view of the town that she barely felt the hand touching her hair, then clasping her waist, then gently turning her body around to face his.
He was the most beautiful being she had ever seen. His eyes were dark and shining; his hair a long cascade of black curls; his lips bore a mischievous smile. His chest was bare, though from the waist down he wore a long white robe. And like her he flew on one loose white wing.
Without a moment’s hesitation, she leaned forward and embraced him, just as he embraced her, holding her the way no one- not her mother, not Mrs. Solis, not even Andre during the first school dance-ever had. She was amazed at the warmth that consumed her body, the electricity that ran up and down her arms, her legs, her centre. He then released with his right arm but continued clasping her with his left so that they both faced the same direction and formed an enormous white butterfly, their two wings now synchronized in their motion. And then, without a word they flew. Higher and higher, among the migrating geese, then through a flurry of clouds. She saw the landscape change beneath her; the green haze of forests gave way to flat prairies, then snow covered mountains, then the sea.
She was not even remotely afraid; she was no longer Anna the outcast schoolgirl, but Anna the half-angel who had spent her entire life secretly longing for her missing companion. Now that he had come, she found that she did not even need to speak to him; his embrace, his laughter said more than enough. They merely flew and flew, first darting upward toward the sun, then swooping down toward the sea. Anna did not know how long they flew, but soon the sky above them began to grow darker, and the angel guided her down toward the sea.
Now, for the first time she began to feel her muscles growing tense, but the angel patted her side as if urging her to be calm. Down, down they flew until Anna at last saw that they were heading for a peninsula, and then the beach grew clearer, and then they both landed on their feet. He took her hand and led her into the forest, to a grassy clearing where he lay down beside her, alone except for the moon. Exhausted, she fell asleep to the sensation of him holding her, his lips kissing her face, his hand tracing circles over her skin, her entire body fluttering. At last she was at peace.
When Anna woke up, the first thing she noticed was the chill. The next was the pain.
Her shoulders were hurting so much that it seemed as if her arms had been ripped out from them, but when she lifted her bruised hands she saw that they were still there. She felt stiff and sore all over, but it must have been from lying on the hard ground. She recognized where she was…the forest behind the old rubber factory, the very edge of her town. Suddenly, she remembered everything that had happened the previous night and turned to touch her angel, only to clasp at the air. He was gone. And, as she realized when she reached behind her, so was her wing. Only one white feather remained where he had lay, gleaming like a pearl. She picked it up and held it in her hand for a moment, then drove it into the mud. She couldn’t believe that he had done this to her. An angel…her angel; the only one she would ever find. He had taught her to fly, shown her so many enchantments in the course of just a few hours, carried her this far from her mother and Mrs. Solis and the only world she’d ever known. And then he’d taken his wing and gone.
© Jeannine Pitas October 2010
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