My wings were made of silk. They shimmered in natural glory – thinner than paper, lighter than air. Each evening Mummy would handwash and steam them, enhancing their blinding glow, as Mummy adored my wings. She said they were ‘just like my father’s’ – a man I never knew. She said I had ‘his adamant gaze’ – one of eyes I had never seen. She says those eyes saw the failure in her, so that’s why she’s alone and that’s why she has to look after my wings. She wanted me to meet him one day.
He was a tall man – strongly built, firm faced. Nothing contrasted more than my father to his delicate wings, the spitting image of my own. Although frayed at the edges from use, they had the same enviable beauty – I could see why Mummy came back to him, but I couldn’t comprehend why she stayed. My place was at the window – staring at melted horizons, listening to a household of screams. Cries of a woman I barely recognised, her cotton wings bedraggled, who tip-toed across the corridors by night and sat, lips pursed, by day.
I didn’t know this woman, but I wanted to understand her again. Every evening, as the sunset stained my wings crimson for a mere few minutes, I would cut them down to ever smaller pieces until I would never fly again. Eventually, my wings were mere tatters. There was nothing left to shred. My purpose filled, I clambered to the rooftop – shuffled to the edge. I felt the winds tug at my strips of ribbon, bandages behind me, a cape to my fall. And as I fell, those ribbons dragged me more and more, tangling round my neck, my wrists, my face – until they didn’t. Until a strip of ribbon fell from my eyes, and I could see the horizon again. I could feel a warmth round my torso, small hands pulling me in. I looked up to see my mother, a patchwork butterfly, a soaring fledging of her own creation, taking me, taking us, into the blinding sun and beyond.