The Girl Who Had Wings
Once there was a girl who had wings. She didn’t know she had wings, but they were there all the same. Folded and tucked into the place between the girl’s shoulder blades, the wings lay hidden for seven long years. Then, in the middle of a beautiful daydream, out they sprang. Tearing through the girl’s thin cotton dress, her magnificent wings struggled for freedom.
People came from far and wide. “Look!” They said. “What beautiful wings.” The girl was proud. She fluttered her wings to show them just how splendid they were, how they shone like rainbows in the sun.
“Can you fly?” The girl was asked this question many times. And every time the girl gave the same reply.
“I don’t know,” she would say. “I’ve never tried.”
People shook their heads sadly and went on their way.
One day a young boy came to see the girl’s wings.
“They’re beautiful,” agreed the boy readily.
“Wait till you see them in the sun,” said the girl. She fluttered her wings to show the boy how they shone like rainbows in the sun. But before the sunlight could catch her wings, a large rain cloud appeared and blocked out the light. A drop of rain fell on the girl’s face. She folded away her wings quickly. She didn’t want them to get wet.
“Oh!” said the boy.
There was sadness in the boy’s voice, disappointment on his face. The girl noticed both.
“Let’s wait,” she said. “Perhaps the rain will go away soon.”
The girl took the boy’s hand. They ran into her house. The girl’s mother gave them both cupcakes and lemonade.
The girl gulped down her cake, but the boy just nibbled at his as he looked out of the window.
“He’s waiting for the rain to stop,” said the girl. “So I can show him my wings in the sun.”
The girl’s mother smiled. She looked outside. “It may be some time,” she said. “That’s quite a downpour!”
So the boy and the girl sat at the table. They drank more lemonade and ate more cakes. The boy asked the girl questions about her wings.
“Have you always had them?” he asked.
“I think so,” said the girl. “Only they were hidden away.”
“How did you find them?”
The girl laughed. “I didn’t find them. They found me.”
The boy frowned.
“I was daydreaming …”
“You are always daydreaming,” said her mother.
“Me too,” said the boy. He looked into the girl’s face. “What happened?”
“I was daydreaming. It was a lovely daydream. I can’t remember what, but I do remember it was a particularly beautiful daydream, full of lovely colours.”
“What happened?” asked the boy.
“Suddenly the wings sprung out from my shoulders, right through my dress.”
“You should have seen the fuss,” said her mother, “and the commotion.”
“Are they heavy?” asked the boy.
“Where are they now?”
The girl pointed at the space between her shoulder blades. “They tuck away into here.”
The rain continued and so did the questions.
“Have you ever torn them?”
“Does anyone else have them?”
“Do they grow when you grow?”
“Maybe … I’m not sure.”
“Do you ever wish you didn’t have wings?”
This question took the girl by surprise. “Of course not! Why should I?”
The girl waited for the boy to ask that one question everyone always asked, but the question never came. She listened to the rain against the window. The girl was getting tired.
“Maybe you should come back another day?” she suggested.
“He can’t leave in that,” said her mother. “He’ll get soaked to the skin.”
The girl licked the icing from the top of a cupcake.
“Don’t you want to know if I can fly?” she teased.
“You can’t,” replied the boy.
The girl dropped her cake. “How do you know?” she demanded.
The boy stood up. He eased his jacket from his shoulders. Out sprang a pair of wings. The girl gasped.
“You have wings too! Why didn’t you tell me?”
“You didn’t ask,” said the boy.
“So … you can fly?”
“I could,” said the boy.
“What do you mean?”
“I could fly,” said the boy, sadly. “But I can’t fly now.”
“What happened?” asked the girl.
“It’s rude to ask questions,” said her mother.
“But …” The girl was about to remind her mother of all the questions the boy had asked her, but her mother shook her head.
“I don’t know,” said the boy. “I was hoping you might be able to help. If you had been able to fly … ”
The girl glared at him. She had tried so many times, so many secret attempts, but … She was about to protest, when her mother placed a warning hand on her shoulder.
“I’m sorry,” said the girl. She shrugged. “Would you like another cupcake?”
The rain stopped.
“I’d better go,” said the boy.
“Don’t you want to see my wings in the sun?” asked the girl.
The last thing the boy wanted was to see the girl’s wings again, to be reminded of his own now useless wings, but the girl was so keen, so proud. He remembered how proud he’d been of his own splendid wings before …
“Yes,” he said. “Yes. Of course.”
The girl unfurled her wings. The sunlight bounced from them making shimmers like the surface of a lake. From every shimmer sprang a rainbow.
The boy put out a hand to touch one of her beautiful wings. The girl jumped back.
“Don’t touch!” she said.
The boy nodded. The girl saw the sadness in his eyes. And the boy saw the sadness in hers.
“What was it like?” she asked, “… to fly?”
The boy looked up into the sky. “Better than anything,” he said. “Anything!”
“I’ve tried,” said the girl. She lowered her head. “Many times.”
“Me too,” said the boy.
The tips of the girl’s wings began to flutter, slowly at first, then faster and faster. Inch by inch the fluttering travelled down the girl’s wings until they fluttered from top to bottom.
The boy grabbed her hand. “Try,” he said. “Try now.”
“I can’t,” said the girl. “I’ve tried before.”
“When you tried before,” said the boy, “did your wings flutter like they are fluttering now?”
“I think,” said the boy. “I think if you try now, right now.”
“But I don’t know how,” said the girl.
“I do!” The boy jumped up and down on the spot. Then he stood still. He closed his eyes and smiled. The tips of his wings began to flutter. The rest of his wings began to flutter and … up he went. He flew in a circle around the girl’s head; then swooped into the sky.
The girl jumped up and down too. Her wings fluttered and fluttered, then stopped.
The boy flew down, landing neatly at her side.
“It didn’t work. I jumped like you but it didn’t work.”
The boy laughed. “It wasn’t the jumping that made me fly.”
“No,” said the boy. “I was just jumping up and down because I remembered.”
The girl was growing impatient. “Remembered what?”
“Remembered what I was doing when I used to fly. I did it again, and it worked.”
“You shut your eyes and smiled,” said the girl.
So the girl shut her eyes and smiled, just as the boy had done. Nothing happened. Not even a tiny flutter in the tip of her wings.
“It still hasn’t worked. It’s no good. I’ll never be able to fly. I closed my eyes like you, I smiled like you …”
“But did you think like me?”
“Think like you! How on earth could I think like you? I don’t know what you were thinking. I can’t …”
The boy took her hand.
“Do you remember when your wings first appeared?”
“Yes,” said the girl. “I told you about it.”
“What were you doing?”
“I don’t know,” said the girl.
“Yes you do,” the boy urged. “You told me, you were in the middle …”
“ … the middle of a beautiful daydream.”
The boy squeezed the girl’s hand. “Yes! But you couldn’t remember what you were daydreaming about.”
“That’s right,” said the girl.
“Daydream,” ordered the boy.
“Yes, now. That’s what I did.”
The girl closed her eyes. The daydream was slow to appear. When it did arrive, it came in tiny bursts. The girl imagined eating mother’s cupcakes, drinking her cool lemonade. She imagined her wings shining in the sun, forming rainbows. She imagined people admiring her beautiful wings. Then she imagined eagles and angels, butterflies and hummingbirds, dragons and damselflies, a thousand winged creatures thronging through the sky. Finally she imagined herself in the middle of these winged creatures, flying through her beautiful daydream. And, then, in the middle of this beautiful daydream, the girl with wings could finally fly.