She always said she wanted to know what it felt like to fly.
Can you blame her, then, for considering the wings?
Her hands stroked the feathers, fingers relishing the softness, in awe that something so seemingly delicate could be her ticket out of the gilded cage that was her life. The swirl of questions constantly hounding her- why could she not learn to be content with what she had? How could the years not plant her feet firmly on the ground? When would she finally learn?- all silenced so suddenly, wind-swept away.
“The sky is the limit” was an adage she clung to like a life raft. For so long, she yearned for more than their one-way streets could ever permit. She could never quite lose that dandelion-dance in her eyes, no matter how much it was considered a weed-like nuisance. No matter how much they tried to trample it.
She’d wished on every star. Blew out every birthday candle. And, much to the chagrin of her neighbors and their perfectly manicured lawns, planted each hope with a breath, eagerly awaiting their blooms.
She was still holding her breath.
For years, she held her breath. Until she was blue in the face with all her dreams that never came to fruition. Until she was sure life had choked her and drowned her. Until the dandelions in her eyes began to wilt and she found the butterflies and birds more mocking than inspiring.
That’s when she stumbled upon the wings and the ache in her chest began to ease. The rattling of her lungs- as though in a cloud of constant nicotine- cleared. She could breathe easily and, through the last vestiges of smoke still shrouding her, night-blooming jasmine coated her nose like morning dew on a spider’s web. The fading bruise of a sky turned to the diamond-crusted blue-velvet of her youth.
Her teeth shone in the moonlight and her lips parting and curling were less of a cracked sidewalk and more of a Datura flower’s unfurling to welcome the moon. That flame that resided in the pit of her stomach, the one she struggled to nurture as she watched it shrink in the face of self-doubt, a constant drip over the coals that only grew with everyone else’s, like an infinity mirror’s endless reflection, suddenly ignited once more. So brilliant and warm that she felt her own face heat up.
Can you blame her, then, for taking the wings?
They slipped on like a grandmother’s quilt in the wake of a nightmare on a cold night. Comforting. Loved. Without her feet ever leaving the ground, she felt herself floating. She could close her eyes and memorize the possibilities she used to dream up like a road map leading home.
Everything outside of her threatened to tether her down. There were responsibilities. There were expectations. The world was full of to-do’s and should’s. Her hand stilled, overwhelming the swelling inside of all she ever wanted.
Quickly, she became ensnared in the voices of logic, taking the faces of those she knew well. They reminded her of Icarus. They reminded her that flying led to the falling. They reminded her of her place, a fate that blinded stars and offered salad over birthday cake and killed weeds. They reminded her wings were for playing pretend.
Everything inside of her ached to take the chance. For all the reasons not to, for all it became painfully obvious “the sky’s the limit” was a saying to placate a child’s imagination, she wondered if Peter Pan might’ve been onto something. That maybe Tinkerbell and the Lost Boys had more to do with growing old rather than growing up. That fantasies were what society called possibilities that no one could seem to hold onto.
Can you blame her then for flying away?
They called it “a leap of faith” for a reason.