(“Blackbird singing in the dead of night…
Take these broken wings and learn to fly…” –The Beatles)
In the first dream, she is standing next to a cliff…staring up at the great structure of granite and obsidian that stretches into the sky, feeling impossibly small next to the towering monolith. The ground is cold and damp beneath her bare feet, and a thin blanket of fog chokes her throat, polluting the air. She can barely see five feet in front of her face, and yet the location smacks of a certain familiarity. A strange sense of déjà vu floods her mind and again she looks up at the cliff…but she can see nothing but sky.
In the second dream she is standing at the rock’s edge, looking out onto a vast black canyon, watching the people scurry below. Thick yellowish smoke billows over her head, a foul taste on her tongue as she opens her mouth and breathes deep. She is wearing shoes, heavy black boots that seem cemented to the ground, anchored by invisible weights that pull just as heavy on her heart. Her eyes flutter downward to a thin pair of silvery wings shredded on a jagged rock. Her eyes fill with tears. She looks away.
In the third dream she holds the tattered wings in her hands, letting their texture caress her fingers. They are as soft and light and filmy as air, yet strong and sturdy as steel…and when she looks more closely, she can see framework beyond the stretches of gossamer. Gingerly she runs trembling hands over a single jagged tear, and when her spine aches, she does not question it.
In the fourth dream the cliff is gone, replaced by a lush green field that stretches for miles, green grass growing high and strong and wild as far as the eye can see. On her feet are sandals, delicate straps kissing her ankles, and her heart sings for nothing but pure joy. She glances out over the horizon and sees a shadow, a thin, tall spindly figure that waits just beyond where the sky kisses the ground. A shadow, she realizes, in the shape of a man.
She doesn’t remember her fifth dream. She wakes up in her lover’s arms, trembling, skin soaked, teeth chattering against some unknown terror. With anxious fingers she traces her own face, feels the moisture from the streaks of tears, and stifles a cry. Her lover awakens, murmuring words of comfort-nonsense, and she finally calms, but does not sleep.
In the sixth dream the wings are sewn to her back with thick black thread, the ugly lines a garish contrast to their silvery texture. She feels ashamed, hides her face in her arms, the monstrous wings cocooning her body like a blanket. She stares out across the cliff, past the canyon that yawns like a scream, and looks into her lover’s eyes.
He is angry.
In the seventh dream she walks to the edge of the cliff, dangling her feet over the precipice, looking down as a pebble plummets to eternity, feeling the wind whip her hair and bite her cheeks. Her hands are bleeding, tattered from rock, and when she looks up she can see her reflection in the sky…see the blood smeared on the hideous wings of and silver. She folds her head in her hands and begins to cry.
Her lover’s voice pulls her to wakefulness, his gentle kisses a shock on heated, dry skin. Her eyes blink in confusion and her body recoils, still thrumming with adrenaline, taut skin stretched over bone.
“It’s alright, baby,” He whispers softly, gently stroking her hair. “It’s okay…”
When she looks in her mirror, there is blood on her lips.
In the eighth dream, she stands naked at the cliff’s summit, unaffected, unafraid. The wings are gone and in their place is a motor, a man-made machine of gears and metal that will lift her high into the air and above the cliff. She smiles, waving to a crowd that has gathered below, and jumps into nothingness.
As her body sinks and the ground approaches at terminal velocity, she hears nothing but the sound of her own screams.
When she wakes, she is alone, and her lover sits in the corner, moonlight kissing half his face, shadow obscuring the other.
“Why won’t you tell me?” He murmurs, and she shivers, pulling the sheet over her body. Loneliness overwhelms him and he moves from his place on the chair, sliding back into bed to cradle her tenderly. She sighs and tries to sleep.
In the ninth and final dream, she stands with her back to the cliff, precious wings standing high and strong against the driving wind, sheltering a body once bruised and battered. She steals a glance over her shoulder, down at the rocks where metallic rubble sparkles faintly against thick black earth. She stares harder, over the cliff, where the phantom shadow has coalesced into a familiar face, into a face she knew to expect.
She holds her lover’s gaze, and with a whispered goodbye, spreads her wings.
© 2002 ~A.