We are descended from a beautiful lineage, but most of us don’t remember. Call them fairies, call them angels, or even call them demons. They were born of the sky, and in a past life, I swam through the cumulonimbus clouds with them. I know because no gravity-chained soul could dream the way I do. When my eyes are closed, I know how the chilled mist of a roiling thunderhead feels against my palm, and how the air currents weave flawless patterns in an ever-shifting tapestry, and how the lungs expand to compensate in the thin atmosphere where the earth below is a curved razor against the black edge of oblivion.
Perhaps I did wrong. Perhaps my wings were a gift I squandered. I can’t remember that far back. But when the breeze sweeps the azure-streaked hair from my eyes, my back stiffens and my shoulders straighten, expecting a ruffle through thin membranes and an uncontrollable urge to unfurl.
Some nights, I trace the contours of my ribs where they meet my vertebrae, my fingertips searching for a trace of a scar. The smooth skin is a disappointment, a reminder that this is my flesh of the earth, not of the sky.
A year ago, I tattooed wings upon my back. Pretty things, but useless for flight, their only purpose to steal my breath each time I turn away from the mirror and remember. They shroud my shoulder blades with color, and I stroke them often, wishing I could peel the edge and let them rise to catch the warm breeze and lift me away.
When I watch the swallows swooping over the soybean fields, I envy them. “Don’t forget what that feels like,” I want to warn. “Don’t take your wings for granted.”
Whatever I did to lose my wings, I’m sorry. I’d do anything to get them back, even if I had to trade my beautiful, colorful wings for dark, leathery ones. As long as the wind could catch them, I wouldn’t care. If they had to come from existing bones that broke and warped to erupt from my skin, if they dripped blood with every flap to pump me away from this place, I would bear that pain.
I was not born to be imprisoned upon this earth.
This piece, like many of my flash fiction pieces, was conceived from a writing prompt in my Sandcastle Writing class. The story was written to describe a photograph in a magazine–a woman with rose-colored hair showing off the beautiful butterfly on her back, a tattoo of her own design. The photo featured for this post is not the one that inspired the original writing, but rather a Photoshopped self-portrait.
Maybe this flash fiction piece is the seed of a new story? We’ll have to see….
I'm an award-winning fantasy author, artist, and photographer from La Porte, Indiana. My poetry, short fiction, and memoir works have been featured in various anthologies and journals since 2005, and several of my poems are available in the Indiana Poetry Archives. The first two novels in my Chronicles of Avilésor: War of the Realms series both received the Literary Titan Gold Book Award in 2020.
After working as a freelance writer for a time, I was shocked by how many website articles are actually written by paid "ghost writers" but credited to a different author. It was a jolt seeing my articles presented under the name of a high-profile CEO or an industry expert with decades of experience when in reality, I had none of those credentials. Just a talent for writing and the time to research topics. Ghost writing is perfectly legal and a VERY common practice.
You won't find that here on my website. I do not and never will pay a ghost writer, then slap my name on their work as if I'd written it. This website is 100% authentic. No outsourcing. No ghost writing. No AI-generated content. It's just me... as it should be.
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