When I was little, I didn’t have very many friends. I wasn’t very popular, and I was mainly ignored in school.
13 year old me wasn’t very ordinary. It was impossible for me to fit in when I always wore a very puffy jacket, even in the summer.
Most kids thought that was the weirdest part of me, and they were so wrong. When was three, my mom noticed strange bumps on my shoulder blades.
There were only two, but they were beginning to stick out at weird angles, one went right, the other left. By then, feathers had started to grow on them, just down but what three year old has feathers any way. She didn’t call the doctors, she didn’t take me to the hospital. The reason why I still don’t know. She just hid them from the world.
In five years, they became golden wings that sprouted from my back. When I was 13, I still hadn’t really learned to fly, but I could still flap around and escape things if needed.
One day, as I was walking down the street, towards my house on the edge of town, I passed a somewhat large, grey mansion. A woman sat on the step, watching me go by.
Her face was slightly gray with sharp angles that made her look like some awful mask. She wore a dark gray dress that seemed to be a ballgown. It puffed and rippled around her, as if she were wearing a thundercloud. Her hands had quite long fingers and her long arms were thin. Her legs were almost completely hidden from view, but the part that was showing was as thin and pale as the rest of her. She had tiny feet that she had tucked away in silver slippers. This all gave her the impression of a skeleton getting ready for a party.
As I walked by, she stood up and walked behind me. I didn’t like this, but I just thought she was going to her car. She stopped walking and just stood behind me.
“Girl, come here.” Her voice sent shivers down my spine. “I want to talk to you.” It whispered around me, I had the feeling that I was surrounded by shadow. It was the strangest thing I have felt to this day. All of a sudden, a thin hand was on my shoulder. She guided me back towards the steep.
I struggle, but I couldn’t break free.
“How is she this strong”, I wondered silently, still unable to escape that firm grasp. Now, after all these years, I know why she is so powerful. You, however, will find out later.
She pulled me into her house and locked the door behind us. She took my coat from me, reveling the wings beneath.
“I knew it,” she whispered. I unfurled my wings and floated into the air above her. The ceiling in her house was at least two stories tall and I easily got out of reach.
One of my wings bumped the silver chandelier, causing crystals to fall like silver rain. They cascaded down upon the woman, but she didn't waver. I sped up to the high windows and opened one of them.
I soared into the sky, leaving the strange lady far behind. The ground was far below me, rushing past as I flew home. Clouds floated by in the beautiful sky. I shot threw one and mist stuck to my face. A few birds flapped past and I waved at them. They flew away from me, disgruntled by me, this thing that didn't belong here.
Soon, the buildings thinned and country roads wound out before me. I was almost home, I could see it nestled in the hills. As I flew, I saw a boy below me walking along the country path. He looked around as if someone was watching him. I paused for a moment, interested in what he was doing.
He had messy, black hair and he wore a puffy jacket somewhat like the one I left behind. This wasn’t normal, as the weather was near 100 degrees. He tugged it off, reveling wings that resembled a raven’s.
I was so startled, I nearly fell out of the sky. He gracefully soar into the air, doing turns and dives where he flew. Soon, he neared me. He looked up and caught sight of me. I wanted to fly away, but I also wanted to know how he had learned so well.
“Hello,” he said, not necessarily unfriendly.
“Hi,” I waved back. “Are there others like us?” My first question stumbled out of my mouth. I’m not that used to talking to people.
“I can’t tell you, but I can tell you this… follow the sparrow.” Then he soared away.
“Wait? Where should I look? How do I find the sparrow? What is the sparrow? How can I meet you again?” He didn’t come back.
I flapped down to my house and walked along the road. The nearest people were five miles away, so I didn’t need to keep my wings hidden. I walked along the dirt road, spotting the occasional tree go by. As I got to the fence that bordered our land, I sat on a stump to think. How should I look for the sparrow? Let’s see… Then I remember something, The guy who had wings, he had a sparrow printed on the back of his shirt. Is it some kind of group?
I think for some time, but nothing else comes to me. The sun starts to dip towards the horizon and the sky becomes lavender. It’s time to go inside.
When I open the door, my mom comes running and hugs me. “Mia, I thought something awful had happened. Where were you?”
“ It’s a long story…”
After telling her about my crazy afternoon of being captured, then talking to a boy with wings, I tell her about the sparrow. “What does it mean?”
Nothing happened for a few weeks. No matter how hard I searched, I couldn’t find any sign of the sparrow. Then, one came to me.
I walked home one day to see an envelope sitting on the porch. Printed neatly on the front was a golden sparrow. I picked it up and rushed inside. When I opened the letter, a small picture and a piece of paper fell out.
The picture showed a strange town.
It was abandoned and most of the windows were boarded up. The picture was taken at night, and the moon made the empty buildings glow silver. Snow was thick on the ground and it swept against the walls like ocean spray. Sharp, stone mountains loomed in the distance. I looked closer to try to see where it was when I noticed something. A figure was walking from one of the buildings. It was dark, but I could see two shadows extending from their back. It almost looked like they had… wings.
Now I looked down at the card. It read…
We know who you are. We know what you have. Do not worry. We want to help you. The picture you are looking at is at this location:
You will find us if you look.
What does this mean? I look up out the window to think, and I see the winged boy standing a few yards away. He seems to be waiting for something. Now I can see his face clearly. His eyes were as dark as a stormy night. He looked very serious, standing there. He was actually quite tall, much taller than I thought he was. His wings were sleek and long. They were black and sparkled in the sun.
When I open the door, the boy approaches. He looks at my hand and I realize I’m still holding the letter. “I see you got the envelope,” he says, “I wish I could tell you more. Follow the signs.” Then, he flew away. This is going to be much harder than I though.
The next day, I walk home from school again, this time with a different coat. The woman is there again, staring at me with slate gray eyes. I walk on the other side of the road. A young girl comes out from behind the door. She watches me, too. I hold her gaze and she looks away. She has strawberry blond hair and blue eyes. I notice what she’s wearing as she turns to go inside. She wears a puffy dress that sticks out strangely on her back. Does she have wings, too?
When I get further out of town, I notice a man walking behind me. He isn’t acting strangely, but no one really walks this long, dusty road.
He is wearing a crisp, dark grey suit and shiny black shoes. He has dark hair that has been slicked back with almost too muck gel. He walks in a brisk way and his legs are stiff, as if he’s not used to walking so far. He is pale and is moderately tall. His eyes are hidden behind dark glasses. He keeps checking his watch like he’s late for an important meeting. He holds himself as if he is superior to all he can see.
I watch him out of the corner of my eye for sometime, waiting to see if something is going to happen. He steps in some mud and grimaces when his shoe gets splattered. I stifle a laugh. He checks his watch again, then abruptly stops. After touching his hand to his ear and muttering a few words, he turns around. I hear the roar of an engine to my left.
Headlights flash through the tall grass and a car comes crashing out from the field. A strong hand grips my shoulder, and I bolt. Big, grey trucks crash into the road. Dust billows, the air gets hard to breath. I can’t see five feet ahead of me. Flashes of light burst through the hazy cloud. I unfurl my wings and soar into the air. I feel hands gripping my ankles. As the people below me try to pull me down, I flap higher and higher into the air.
The hands release and the dust settles. I see about ten men in gray suits shouting at each other. They carry weapons that look like giant guns.
Suddenly, they all mount them onto their shoulders. A man in a light gray suit shouts a command and they all fire. Large nets fly from each cannon, chasing me through the air.
Just as I think I’m free, a grapple grabs my foot out of the air. It pulls me back to the earth faster than I can fly away. I look down to see seven men wearing identical outfits turning a crank connected to a pulley device. The man in blueish gray continues to shout. I tug, but the machine is stronger. The nets surround me, a suffocating tangle of rope. The twist up my wings and make it even harder to fly. I plummet to the hard ground.
With a thump, my back pounds the earth, sending a second cloud of dust into the sky. Everything is blurred, it’s hard for my eyes to focus.
I turn my head to the side. Just before I close my eyes, I see a pale figure in a billowing dress approaching.
I wake with a start. I hear the bumping of car tires down an uneven road. I try to sit up, but a strong, metallic rope holds me down. My wings are in chains, and the frigid metal freezes my back. It is dark and musty, wherever this is. Sun shines through filthy slits in the walls. Bars surround all five. I look through the mud covered windows to find that we are moving.
There isn’t really anything else in here, except benches on both sides. The van tumbles down the rocky road. Gravel bangs against the metal sides, causing a strange orchestra of sound. Soon, however, the road evens out and I can hear the bustle of city life slowly surround us.
I turn my head to see that there is a small square of clear plastic through one of the walls. It shows a driver’s head with slicked back hair. He has dark brown hair and I can see a small headphone in his left ear. The arms of sunglasses poke out at me. They are jet black and shine the reflected sun into my eyes. I can see the collar of a dark grey suit at the base of his neck.