What human can fly?

1. Fly

Her fingers brushed through the clouds below, the tips left tingling with a sensation of damp but actually dry to the bone. It was a feeling she would never get tired of. She would never get sick of the feeling of the wind dancing through her hair, the sun's rays shining down on her as she zigzagged in and out of the clouds, momentarily feeling drenched and then dry once back in the clarity of the blue skies. It was a feeling she knew she had to cherish because she was the only one who could feel it. Love it. No human would ever have the rush of excitement as they kicked off from the ground, shakily at first, but steadying quickly to rise into the air, the sky, maybe higher one day.

She could not really call herself a human any more. A few months ago she could have called herself that, but now... well... what human could fly? For a while she had thought to call herself an angel – the creatures of legends, heavenly warriors – but to be an angel you usually needed a halo, and if not that, wings. She did not have wings – not in the traditional sense at least. On her back there were two large growths, each below a shoulder blade, beneath the surface of her skin. She knew what they were even if there were no feathers. They'd arisen below her skin the morning of her sixteenth birthday; the day she had first taken to the sky.

A contented sighed passed through her lips as she dipped lower, drifting her whole arm through the dewy white mist. She lowered her other arm into the cloud as well, clasping her hands together to try and cup the wetness, bring it up to her lips to drink. Each time she was unsuccessful. No matter how fast she was, each time her hands left the river of white they turned out to be dry – as if they had never been wet in the first place. It puzzled her, the feeling of dampness on her hands when submerged in the clouds, but she loved it all the same.

Once when she had been flying she had been fortunate enough to witness a thunderstorm – from above, of course; away from any danger. The world below her had been an explosion of whites, yellows, oranges against a deep purple background. They had mixed and diffused, spiralling between the cracks in the clouds, throwing themselves away from her, towards the ground. It was a sight she knew she would never forget. She had dipped her hands into the clouds a few moments after it had passed; the dampness on her hands being warm.

Lost in amongst her thoughts of the past, she absent mindedly drifted lower, all the way down until it was just her head above the surface of the clouds. It felt as though she was swimming through water, without the resistance. Her body was light, so light. It felt as though the air being breathed in was the only thing stopping her from rising up and up and out of the atmosphere.

She gave another contented sigh and closed her eyes, contemplating what it would be like to be able to stay up here forever. Never having to go below the clouds to the ground. Here the only things she had to avoid were the birds that dared to fly so high. Down below there was work, and college, and boys, and friends, and money and all the nonsense that went on in the world. Here she was free. Free to fly without a single care in the world.

It could not last though; just as every creature does after a long day she knew she had to sleep. She would have to go back down to the little apartment that she shared with a few others from college. She would go in, ignoring the fumes of alcohol and smoke, the loud calls from the others, tread heavily into her room, lock the door. She would smile, squeeze her lips together in an attempt to halt it turning into a grin. Then she would sigh happily again, spin around and fall back onto her bed. She would roll over and run her hands up the contours of her back, touching over the two round lumps below her shoulder blades. The smile would come back. She would squeak in delight and bury her head in her pillow to silence herself. She would have the knowledge that tomorrow she would have a few hours of lessons, and then, again, like everyday, she would run to the roof of the college, close her eyes and jump from the ledge, have that feeling of falling and then the uplifting bubble in her stomach. She would be able to forget her troubles again.

With this in mind she already had the lopsided grin on her face, giggling childishly to herself. She let out a scream of giddiness, throwing her hands out in front of her, then dived down into the clouds. Her whole body was submerged now. She could feel the water rushing over her face as she flew along, gaining speed. She rotated her body over and over, twisting and turning with her hands out in front of her. She looked almost like a child's spinning-top. She imagined the wings on her back; big, white and wonderful. She was sure one day she would have real wings, not just growths. Until that day of course she had the advantage of looking almost human, she could stay on the ground, in college, her normal life. When she gained real wings – feathered, beautiful, protective wings, then hey, she would just have to move to the sky permanently. She would not have a choice. She would fly with the other birds, find out where they went for the winter. She would be free.

She dropped below the clouds, emerging from the bottom dry as a bone. She pulled her hands in close to her body, smiling again. She closed her eyes. One day she would be able to leave forever – go above the clouds, soar for hours through the sky and come down again over a new world entirely. For that day she could not wait. Until that day, however, she still had her clouds. The feeling of dampness and dryness. The lumps on her back. She was almost free.


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