The Wings in Shadow
Fairies were a truth a lot of people didn’t like thinking about. Especially in times like these. In a world of mundane, cruelty, and gluttonous fame, fairies were from a different time. An embodiment of innocence yet equally a symbol of grief. A fairy was a dream, and nightmarish reality all at once. Stories were told of the old Fae throughout children books and myths. A curious endearment to a magical world long lost in lore, and time. The fairies that lived in our world mingled among humanity and co-existed in our communities for generations. Generations that learned the price of human toxicity. Still, they stayed. They were lost. The old world had closed it gates, and the Fae were cast out into the world of humans to survive and hopefully one day return to the world of magic they came from. What none of them realized was that as time went on, the hope to return home would fade further into the pages of history books.
Afternoon sunshine kissed Nemia's arms. The tingling sensation of heat, and summer winds delighted the melanin that sang in joy at the outside time. She was waiting, and who knows how long it had been, but the sunlight was decadent. She smiled as her favorite song played gently in the background. As the wind tossed her pink braids she settled in deeper at the Park bench.
"Titania herself could never compare to such natural sunlight beauty” a voice said. Nemia opened up her eyes and turned towards the approaching footsteps. She smiled, as her best friend and local fairy icon came and sat down next to her. Her gossamer purple wings tucked into her back as she settled down next to her.
"About time you got here Leia, I thought the sun was about to be my new best friend" the late arriving fairy chuckled, a beautiful sound as she shook her head in opposition.
"who am I if I can't compete with the sun?” She chirped sassily. Nemia smiled at that and hugged her friend.
"you know I'm teasing, what took you so long?” she asked. Leia sighed, as a forlorn expression crossed her face. Her hands clenched in her lap.
“My mother's cousin got his wings shadowed, everyone is a wreck, but giving him as much support as we can.”
Nemia, patted her gently. Her heart reaching sorrow for the kids lost. "Do they know why?”
Leia shook her head. "Innocence is lost in many ways, but what we lose our wings for can be treacherous to reflect on for those still winged. Can we move on from it? I told you cause you wanted to know why I was late. I was just talking to my mom. She was worried I would lose my wings too"
Nemia nodded, biting her lip. Her curiosity made her dangerously close to rude. She felt bad as her fae friend looked lost in thought. Not even the sun seemed to warm her spirits.
“I’m insensitive... terrible human trait... I’m just as bad as those folk in the south.”
Leia shook her head, “Nothing should be compared to the south, especially not you.” Leia closed her eyes, and her wings twitched as she held back an emotion, that Nemia thought she could grasp. However the moment passed as quickly as it happened. They sat in the sun, quiet, with words unsaid trapped behind their lips. The sun warmed what it touched, but the clouds were moving in.
At cafe Minx, a couple days later, the girls sat sipping hibiscus tea and writing papers for their shared class on “Empathy in a Practical Setting”. The warm aroma of hibiscus and strawberry tarts inspired delight and softness. Overhead the TV set played the news. It was at this time that Leia looked up and nudged Nemia to do the same.
“For the first time since Spirit Lines came about as the top airline in the industry, flight 1669 from California to Maryland is missing in the Midwest, the CEO Karnal Dew has offered no comments, and reports have come in of officials locating the missing flight as we speak. Nothing has showed up for the past 10 hours. The entire plane is missing, and the world waits for what the CEO of Spirit Lines will say or do in this regard” The reporter announces.
Whispers circle in the cafe. A rise in rumor and suspicion over the missing plane. Nemia looks at Leia, and the fae girl shrinks down a little in her seat. She puts down her pen, and looks around the cafe. Feeling a few stares in her direction.
“Damn it” She mutters.
“Should we get out of here? These people don’t know anything about you” Nemia suggested. Leia nodded, and they started backing up their stuff.
“I know nothing about that plane and even less about Karnel, it was one stupid blind date that made it to the tabloids.”
“I know that, but people are nosy and like to point blame where ever it's convenient” Nemia frowned as they stepped out, with stares and whispers still at their backs. They greeted the fresh air with relief and began walking towards Nemias place. Leia's stomps of frustration were heard. People peeked at them and looked away as quickly as they could. Nemia in contrast, had softer steps but her pink hair made her stand out. There was nothing to mask the presence of a pink haired girl, and an angry fairy. Leias wings began to flutter in response and some kid giggled and pointed, while their parent tried to hush them up.
“Leia, your wings are…”
“I know what my wings are doing!” She yelled. Nemia stopped in her tracks. Heart thundering in her chest. Leia’s face quickly fell and she sighed. Her gossamer wings, settled back down
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to yell...I just hate that anything weird happens and its gawk at the closest fairy for answers.”
“I forgive you, but lets emote not at friends so aggressively next time. Your feelings are valid, I won’t deny that humans are pig-headed in their blame game and fear mongering. Its historically cost so many people lives. We just need to be in a supportive community to fight against that” Nemia said. Leia rested her head on her shoulder as she hugged her friend. The girls knew things had changed for the Fae community now that the plane had gone missing. It was only a matter of time before people started turning up and asking questions. Leia stepped back and wiped her eyes.
“This sucks. I feel like I can’t exist without some stupid form of commentary or man made spectacle ruining it” They continued walking, until they reached the last brown townhouse on the street.
Nemia and Leia finished their papers, but Leia hardly spoke a word that evening. She only answered questions in regards to the paper, and about more tea. There was something off, something unsaid that had her friend quieter than normal. Her far away looks, and wistful sighs made Nemia curious what happened. When Leia left, she was alone with her thoughts and building suspicion. She wondered if her friends recent dating history had her on edge about seeing Karnel so many years ago. Remembering the blind date, and the flustered fairy returning to her place to announce she never wanted to date men ever again...made Nemia think she did not ask nearly enough questions about what had happened with the mysterious CEO. While she was happy her friend had found her sexuality, and a better dating purpose, she wondered what about that date prompted such horrific looks from her friend whenever she asked about it.
She stirred the sugar pyramid built up at the bottom of her mug. Biting her lip in contemplation over whether she should text Leia's girlfriend to check up on her. She looked at her phone that looked like a few seconds from falling off the counter and hiding from her forever. She let out a big sigh. It was all a huge mess, and not knowing what to do made her feel like a fool. The internal debate was making her heart hurt. Looking down in her mug, she saw how browned the sugar pyramid was, and stopped stirring it absentmindedly.
A couple days later, and the news stayed on everywhere as the missing plane trended globally over all social media. Nemia had promised to meet with Leia after her classes, but once more the fairy girl was late. She stood outside of the psychology building watching people hurry past. She noted many Fae students walked in groups. She watched Leia break away from such a group and head towards her.
“What's up with the Fairy committee?” Nemia questioned. She had never seen Leia so heavily immersed with other Fairy students. Usually the girl avoided the clique mentality. Leia shuffled some books into her bag and looked at Nemia oddly.
“It’s a support group. A solidarity thing” She answered softly.
“Oh…” Nemia, felt hurt again. She couldn’t source the feeling, but she acknowledged it.
“Is it helping any?” She inquired. Leia smiled, it was the first one she had seen in a couple days.
“Yeah, it's great we talk about a lot of issues our human friends wouldn’t understand, well maybe you would but you know many wouldn’t”
“Issues like what?” Nemia asked. Leia turned to look at her.
“Well, Fae stuff… rumors really...it's just old culture.”
They walked to cafe Minx, this time Leia had her wings covered as they sat down and ordered their favorite hibiscus tea. The cafe was lively, mostly filled with students and locals grabbing a coffee or a light dinner before their evenings began. The room had a warm glow that made it feel safe, Nemia was relieved the TV wasn’t on.
Leia was still quiet, even while they sat here. She didn’t want to force conversation but something needed to be said.
“Leia, what's been going on?”
“What do you mean?”
“I just mean in general...you’ve been weird since the plane thing, and we haven’t even talked about it, that or Karnel.” Nemia said. Leia looked away.
“Did it occur to you that maybe I didn’t want to talk about either of those things?” Leia asked. Her eyes looked at hers, and Nemia was startled at the energy she felt then. Leia was upset. She clasped the handle of her mug, but before she could speak Leia stopped her.
“Nemia, I get you’re worried about me, however why in your search for answers do you bring up that man and his damn plane. I’m sick of suspicion and the talk of it. I thought you of all people would understand why not to bring it up.”
“I...thought you would want to talk about it, you know air grievances and hurt?” Nemia said softly. Leia glared and she saw her friends wings stiffen.
“Ugh...you don’t get it...and i have the terrible feeling you never will at this point.” Leia said. She quickly gathered her stuff and left change on the table and stormed out. Nemia did the same following after her.
“Leia...Leia! Leia!!! Hold on” She reached out and grabbed her wrist stopping her friend, but her wings burst out of her poncho in outrage.
“No! I can’t believe you Nemia! Plane this, Plane that… can you stop making a spectacle into conversation?! It's not easy to see this trauma everywhere, and experience dirty looks because I am of the fae”
“I don’t understand why you wouldn’t want to talk about this?” Nemia argued. Leia’s face clenched in sorrow, and suddenly her face took on a ghasty hue. She collapsed holding her chest in agony. She screamed.
“Leia?” Nemia asked, she was about to kneel but then she saw.
The purple wings that graced her back were shaking. They quivered violently, like the wings of a hummingbird. The wing slowly began to blacken. Going from the light purple to all black. All throughout this process she was screaming. It was a sound that one never wanted to hear again, and people all around stopped and circled around her watching. A couple people took their phones out to watch, making it a spectacle. Nemia began to cry as she tried to shoo away the onlookers. She tossed down a phone from a kid who was laughing, and as the phone shattered, Leia let a piercing noise. She turned to see what happened, and watched in horror as her black wings turned to ash, crumbling away to the ground. The dust scattered leaving a ghost of a shadow where her wings once were.
“Leia are you alright?” She pleaded, crouching down to her friend. Leia was sobbing, and she looked up at Nemia, with the horror of her wing shadowed across her face.
“Why didn’t you support me” - She whispered. Nemia’s heart stopped in her chest, as she realized what she had done to her friend in taking away not only her support but being a part of a community that perpetuates the culture of spectacle. The clouds shrouded the sun again, and Leia still sat there unmoving, as her tears kissed her shadow. A shadow in the shape of her missing wings.
~ To be continued.
Wish to read more short works, or have the story continue? Comment, Share, and Follow! Thank you for reading!