Lovers beg your forgiveness right now. Fathers, speak to your kids, right now. To the prince, to the king, to the fathers of the free, beg for your workers, and pray to God for me. Bleeding hearts meet bleeding crowns. All hope, is only around, right now. Prisoners of love, forgive them, right now, and speak.
From the edges of his neck, spreading down his shoulder, over his biceps and triceps, around his elbow and lengthening along his wrist, are intricately inked feathers. Every inch of tan skin slinks and ripples with lines of the tattoo, as if wind flutters around him.
He always wears those A-line shirts as soon as the sun’s out, even in winter, as if he can’t stand to have a sleeve hiding his skin. Or he just wants to show off that physique. (Nobody complains unless they’re jealous anyway.) I definitely don’t complain. He sits in front of me in Pre-Calc, and even though the dress code forces another layer onto him I can stare at the back of his neck, where the first thin black feather peeks out from his collar. When I know the answer to the problems on the white board, I let myself fantasize about skimming my finger right there, and up into his hairline where I know the short hairs will tickle him. I’d put my tongue against that feather and Rory Cahill would say my name.
Nobody knows why he got it. I mean, one wing? He’d fly in circles.
He’s been asked before. By friends and enemies, in homeroom and in the quad, and memorably, during the pep rally against Newan High, Sandy Redford the head cheerleader asked right into the spotty microphone: “The question of the day isn’t whether we’ll defeat the Bighorns, or even by how much! The question is why does Rory Cahill have a one wing?”
Everybody laughed and cheered, and his buddies prodded Rory from where the basketball team stood in a line, across the gym floor to Sandy. She shoved the microphone under his mouth, (nearly gagging him I thought), and he said, “So I don’t have a disqualifying advantage over the other team.”
He was everybody’s favorite after that. We’re all shallow in the 11th grade.
His girlfriend Chaz wore these hoop earrings, with a tiny sterling silver feather dangling off the left one, and never walked on his right side as if it was this huge deal to block his wing. They broke up on a Tuesday afternoon when she couldn’t get him to answer some question. It had to do with his older brothers, and I only know that much because she yelled it louder and louder, getting the whole cafeteria’s attention. He just stared up from the plastic chair as she screamed. But his mouth stayed shut. She leaned down and scratched his forearm with her lacquered nails, leaving a long red line behind.
Rory didn’t come to school the next day or the next, and when we saw him on Friday there was no sign of the cut.
A rumor started up that Rory’d go out with anybody who told him why he had a wing for an arm.