She grew used to the wings,
to the elation, the heights,
knowing that it would somehow, somewhen, end,
—it would have to—
because things like this always did.

But for now, she had the wings.
She struggled against her impulse
to wear them all of the time,
always across her shoulders
like the hug she’d never known wasn’t there.

She really was trying not to depend on them,
—how can she have such hope!—
but wearing them was so good,
and then it was great,
and then it was home.

Of course
like it had been planned
she opened the chest once more,
and the carefully-folded wings were gone,
replaced by a terse note:

“I’m sorry I left these here.
I was mistaken.
It’s not fair to you, or anyone else.”

No return address
no reason why
no idea how,
but suddenly,
knowing the wings were gone,
the grey was unendurable.
The cheerless clouds were consuming.
She couldn’t draw
or dance
and birthdays no longer mattered.
Because where those wings once spanned
she was desolate
and empty
and alone.

The white-white wings were missing.
Almost definitely gone.

She tried to see the brilliant summer sky,
to go the places the wings took her
but ended up lost and alone in the dark,
without even Orion to measure her steps.

She’d known she shouldn’t get used to the joy
of those white-white wings
but she couldn’t help herself,
and now she was helpless.

But deep inside.
It was small.
Invisible, almost.
Inside,
between where the wings had hung,
probably where they had connected with her soul,
she felt a spark
of ridiculous,
impossible,
hope.

…to be continued…