“You wanted to what?”
Martin shifted uncomfortably, staring down at his shoe scuffing the ground aimlessly while his wings deflated and shrunk to hunch down against his shoulders. He’d known somehow that it would end like this, but somehow he’d still hoped that Molly would understand the silly dream he’d hoarded to himself for so many years of his short life. Of all the people who should have understood it should have been Molly, the one girl, no, the one person who had ever bothered to listen to him any more than was necessary. The only person who had bothered to like him.
But Molly had looked at him with such a look of surprise and disbelief on her face when he had told her the first thing that he wanted to be when he grew up that the hopeful fluttering of his wings had died immediately, a blush rising to his face and shame stealing over him once more in a way that he had never hoped to feel when speaking to his only friend. When he finally found his voice to speak, it was so quiet as to be an inaudible mumble into the dust of the field behind his house.”It’s…it’s stupid, never mind. It was a joke.”
But before he could shrink entirely into horrified embarrassment and slink away to hide Molly stepped forward to touch his shoulder gently as a wordless request to stay. He looked up, startled by the sudden gesture, and to his immense surprise and joy a small smile not of derision but of quiet happiness was on her face. “Hey, sorry about that. I didn’t mean to sound so surprised, I just wasn’t expecting it, you know? I thought you were going to say fireman or something stupid like that.”
A small smile to match Molly’s cracked Martin’s serious countenance. She could always do that to him, no matter the situation: even when his father had yelled at him in frustration, even when Simon pushed him around, even when the other, bigger boys thought it would be fun to shove him to the ground and call him whatever names they had come up with that day. No matter what, Molly was always there to pick him back up and put a smile back on his face. Steady Molly, faithful Molly, fantastic Molly. His smile stretched into a grin as the silliness of his reaction hit him, and he huffed out a tiny laugh. “Yeah, wanting to be a fireman is stupid. Why would I want to run into fires?” Molly giggled along with him, and Martin felt balance restore itself in his universe. “Naw, being an aeroplane is way better – no fires, no worries, just…soaring.”
He looked up into the sky for a moment, lost in the daydream that had haunted him for as long as he could remember. Impossibly white and fluffy clouds drifted overhead, meandering through the clear blue sky in gentle puffs and eddies that beckoned him like nothing ever had. Even now, when he had given up on the fleeting dream to be that magnificent machine powering through the open air, the clouds still called him upwards and onwards, singing the song of freedom from the life he lived that already felt like it was not enough. Yes, the sky called to him, but that did not mean there were not things here on earth to keep him tethered and grounded a well. Another gentle tap on the shoulder brought him back to reality, and Molly’s smiling face reminded him just why the sky might not be the best place for him after all.
“Why don’t you though?” she asked curiously, earning a blank stare from him. “Soar, I mean. You could, couldn’t you?”
The question took Martin aback, derailing his peaceful thoughts entirely. As ever, Molly had managed to set his world on end in an instant, and he had no idea how to gain his footing once more. Oh true, he had thought about flying before – how could he have not? And he had even tried it, imitating one of the older winged boys he had seen swooping about the schoolyard by flapping and jumping and flinging himself about in his backyard after school one day. But even though the bit of height he had gained had been thrilling, even though he had dreamed for so long of soaring through the open sky, something about flapping around alone in his yard had simply not captured his imagination the way he had hoped it might. It had not come close to living up to the dream he had constructed for himself of tranquil gliding, and so in frustration and no little disappointment he had given up and resigned himself to wishful thinking.
Molly was still looking at him curiously, and he shrugged awkwardly, bringing his wings into the gesture to emphasize his point. “I don’t know…I mean yeah I could. I guess. I did try, but it wasn’t the way I imagined it, you know? Besides, flying by yourself doesn’t seem like any fun I guess. The whole point of being an aeroplane is to take people places.”
A smile as bright as the sun dawned over Molly’s face.
“Are you sure this is a good idea?”
“Yes, Martin, I’m sure!”
“Just do it! Fly!”
The sky was clear, blue, and endless.
Martin had never felt so utterly terrified in his entire life, nor so alive. The wind was rushing beneath his wings with fearsome speed and indescribable joy, whipping against his face and blowing through his feathers and breathing new life into him that he had not even known he needed. Not even the great distance to the ground beneath him could stop him now, nor make him want to return to earth to place his feet on the solid ground, nor take his head out of the clouds where they belonged. This was freedom, this was happiness, this was living.
Molly was a solid weight on his back, heavy and solid and reassuring. He had worried that he would not be able to take off with her there, but somehow her arms wrapped around his neck did not pull him down out of the sky but instead gave him the strength to fly higher and farther than he had ever dreamed. Her laughter and squeals of delight as they swooped and dipped brought a smile of delight to his face, and spurred him on to greater feats of aerial showmanship. This was marvelous. This was better than marvelous. This was the most wonderful thing he could have ever imagined.
He had no idea how long they would be able to do this, how often they would be able to soar into the sky together, if this would possibly be the only time they would be able to move as one person high in the sky and forget the world below. All he knew was that for now, in this moment, with the wind in his wings and his best friend giggling in his ear, life was perfect.
(Art/fic collaboration with Lexie for the Cotton Candy Bingo Challenge. Fill for the prompt “wings”.)
This was the most fun! All the feelings!
44 Notes/ Hide
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