Back in November, I participated in National Novel Writing Month–NaNoWriMo–and I finally finished my NaNo novel in March and decided it would be really fun to do Camp NaNoWriMo in April.
Except that I forgot I signed up until March 30th. Oops.
Of course, once April came around, I was already committed to doing it–except that I kept finding reasons why I was too busy to write anything for it. So here I am, more than halfway through the month, with only 1000 words of my 10 000 word goal. I planned to do 10 thousand-word short stories in a semi-connected series, and I’ve only got one so far.
I also decided it would be fun to write a poem a day, since April is National Poetry Month. I have one poem.
So yeah, I’m behind, but now that I’ve committed, I really am going to follow through. I can do this, woo! And I’ll share my stuff here on Valourbörn, my little adventures. This is what I’ve got so far…
The muscles along my back, between my shoulders, as well as the muscles along my chest, ached and stretched with a beautiful ache, a wondrous stretch, and I filled my lungs deeply with air. The wind, a tangible body lifting me up, swept under my wings and pushed me forwards. I tipped my shoulders, angled my course, and banked steeply towards a nearby mountain peak. The chilly breeze hit my face like a splash of cold water and I laughed—
“Branding, head out of the clouds!” the phys. ed. teacher snapped, and I groaned, picking up the pace as I jogged around the track. This was torture, this mundane running. Who wanted to use legs when you could use wings instead? As I ran along the dark rubber track, fighting against the wind that howled across the football field and straight into my mouth and nose—choking me out in the process, ugh—I wished desperately that I could trade my heavy, dragging flesh for the paper-light bones of a bird.
Those twelve minutes were the longest twelve minutes of my life, but finally the evaluation was over and I was allowed to stop running. I doubled over, hands on my knees and fighting for breath in lungs that were bitterly sore. The wind pushed against me as if taunting me, reminding me that I could be flying instead. I limped back to where the gym class was gathering to report my pathetic score, meanwhile lifting my arms into the wind’s embrace as if hoping I would sprout feathers and take off. If only .
I dutifully gave my score to the teacher—“That’s it? Just five laps?”—and trudged inside to get changed. The other guys were exchanging their impressive numbers, laughing, shoving, being typical teenage guys, but I lagged behind. I ran my fingers along the wall of lockers. The metal was cold, as crisp as fresh white snow, like the snow that ran under my fingers as I dove close to the mountain. I soared just above it, my fingertips digging into the snow, and then flapped my wings hard to gain altitude.
I flapped until my chest was too tight to flap anymore, and then angled downwards, towards a distant green valley stretching beneath me. I ascended slowly at first, feeling weightless, drifting on the undulating currents of air that so fondly supported me, but gradually gained speed till I was diving streamlined to the ground. My eyes watered, my face chilled, but I was moving so fast with such power splitting around me, like I was an arrow just shot from the bow—
I went into the change room, pulled off my sweaty gym clothes, put on my uniform, loitered in the hallway in wait of the bell, then made my way to the atrium stairs en route to my locker.
I loved the atrium stairs. They wrapped around the very heart of the school, winding up all three storeys and completely open on one side. I liked to walk up them close to the railing, so I could peer over and see all the empty air below me. Being up high made me giddy, full of eager energy, but it made me long even more for my dream wings.
I went all the way to the third floor, walked down the hallway, put my chemistry textbook in my locker, and went back towards the stairs. When I reached the top of them, I saw a woman leaning against the railing who hadn’t been there before. She was half leaning out, peering towards the ground as if looking for someone, except that no one was down there. School had ended with the bell and the atrium had emptied pretty quickly. Faster than usual, actually.
She turned when I went to pass her, stopping me with a hand on my arm. “Have you flown from here?” she asked, with such suddenness and certainty that I faltered.
“Excuse me?” I stuttered, stunned, and her eyes searched my face.
“You’ve got wings, haven’t you?” she asked, persistent. “You’ve dreamt of flying before, haven’t you?” I nodded numbly, bewildered by what was happening and wondering if this woman was just an illusion, and she grinned broadly.
“Perfect,” she said, sounding pleased. “So will you fly from here, then? For me? I’ve got to get home, and I need a pair of wings to get me there.” She climbed over the railing and stood balanced on the ledge. Gesturing me to follow, she said, “Just jump off and fly, and I’ll follow behind. Okay?”
It sounded crazy. I dreamt that I had wings. Some days, I could practically feel their weight on my back, the tickle of their feathers against the backs of my arms. But they weren’t real.
Although, if that were true, then couldn’t one say that a woman asking me to fly with my imaginary wings wouldn’t be real either?
It was a gamble. I would either fly with the wings that felt so genuine, or I would splat on the ground three storeys down.
I climbed over the railing.
The woman smiled at me. “We’re about to go on the adventure of your lifetime,” she said eagerly, and my heart thumped a little harder in my chest. Adventure.
Still holding the railing behind me, I eyed up the drop to the ground floor. I wondered if I really would die, falling from this high up. No, I would fly. I would. I inhaled deeply, feeling a heavy presence between my shoulders, like a pair of wings. I stretched them out to either side, flexing the muscles across my chest. There was a breeze in the atrium, which was strange, but it toyed with my feathers, promising to catch me. I couldn’t see the wings on my back but I knew they were there.
I’d known all along that they were real. I’d just needed someone else to tell me so.
“Ready?” I asked, a slight waver in my voice. The woman nodded. Holding my breath, I leapt off the edge, stretched my wings out, and caught the wind.
And my unnamed poem:
If I could pump music in your veins
With the ink I use beyond the page,
I would fill your blood with colour,
I would make myself your brother.
So this is my latest adventure. Wish me luck and feel free to tell me what you think!
Are you embarking on any April adventures?
May all your spontaneous and poorly planned endeavours be successful.