Monday, 14 March 2016

On Bronze Wings

She clings to the top of the building, letting it take the weight of her wings as she rests. She sags, lifting the harness from her shoulders; freeing them from the contraption’s embrace for a little while. The wings are heavy, the delight flight brings is tempered by the fear they will drag her from the air. Below, London seethes with life, passion and all the things those bring, hot pinpricks that crackle across her senses, alerting her to potential sins.

She misses the cool zephyrs of home, Third Heaven, so different to the scratchy, fetid air here. She misses flight, real flight, rather than the gliding approximation the crude bronze wings allow. She chafes at the goggles and mask that keep the city’s pollution at bay: London air is too dirty to fly without such constraints.

It is over a year since the man in the smoked glasses and the purple suit captured her, dragged her out of Third Heaven in his strange machine. He butchered her wings with an obsidian knife. For auction, he said: there was money to be made, he said.

Afterwards he dumped her on the street. Bleeding, white feathered angel’s wings apparently worth more than a whole, healthy angel; a screwed up logic she refuses even trying to contemplate.

The Maker and his friends found her soon after. She had huddled into a Tube station, to keep away the cold November night when they came slipping past. One girl wore a pair of huge goggles, with huge, bulging fish eye lenses. She froze as she looked at the angel, eyes fixed on her. Later the Maker told the angel the Kirlian goggles showed her as soulless: and that had frightened the girl.

She did not tell him it was true: souls are for mortals, what use would she have for one?

The Maker offered her somewhere to rest; she accepted without knowing why. He built the harness she wears, taking her to scrapyards and markets to find the pieces of metal he needed, crafted feather after feather from tarnished, unwanted metal until there were enough to lace together. He made a mechanism to make them more than ornaments; transforming them into wings. Even after a year, she does not know why; he just seemed to enjoy the challenge.

Over time they became friends, though her relationship with his fellows is cooler: she does not fit somehow. It is to his home, his eyrie rooftop, that she returns for the little food and rest she requires. She tells him of her travels, of the things she sees in his city. Perhaps she loves him, but she doubts it. Love too, is for mortals.

She rises to her feet; wincing a little as the weight of the harness settles anew onto her shoulders. The wings whir as they open, their cogs grinding together delicately. At the building’s edge she dives, trusting the wind to bear her: it is time to go home.

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