They were the tiniest pair of wings, sprouting from my wrist. Little white feathers that can barely see until you turn the zoom in your camera all the way up. When the wind blows, they close up and huddle. Then, they spread out again. They moved on their own, but when I touched them, I could feel them.
They disappeared every morning, and remained absent throughout the day, until I went to sleep. Then, they’d appear again, at 3 am in the night, while I was squinting and staring at my wrist, wondering how they could possibly have grown and disappeared and grown again.
In the balcony, they started flapping, up and down, up and down, and my arm rose up, hand hanging limp, wrist exposed. It went as far as it could go, and then higher: my heels lifted off the ground, and then the rest of my feet, until the tiny wings were carrying me into the air, higher and higher.
I saw the other residents in the apartment building as my body swivelled around an invisible axis with the wings at the centre. The single mother in the apartment above laughing at a movie with her daughter. The old man who lives alone and rides an exercise bike. The woman banging her head on a wall and crying. Higher.
The buildings looked so small from above, like all it would take is a tremor, a wave in the carpet, to turn them into rubble. Their little lights lit up little streets, with little cars driving to little homes. And here I was, flying. But flying where?
I looked up, at a passing cloud. Somewhere in the distance, a commercial jet liner was taking off. I could see it rise from below me, its engines screaming into the wind, and it disappeared into the clouds. Then, the white cotton candy of condensed water took over, and I couldn’t see anything but the whiteness.
When I emerged, I was above the roof of the world. And rising still higher, my tiny wings flapping in the air. It was getting really difficult to breathe, and I start to wheeze and choke. I pulled on my hand, but the wings pulled me back up, sending me into violent falling and rising motions, thousands of feet above sea level.
I clenched my fist and grabbed the wings with my other hand, and I tried to rip them out of my wrist. It was like trying to pull the nervous system out of your body. I screamed as I tried to pull on the wings with all the force I could manage, which was still not enough to rip them out.
That’s when I realised that I was falling. As long as I could hold the wings, I could fall, down into the little world under the clouds, full of little buildings and little cars and little people with little lives and—
The wings were gone. Dawn was breaking.
I was still falling.