Bleeding Skies with Lost Wings

Submitted into Contest #85 in response to: Start your story with the line, “That’s the thing about this city…”... view prompt

40 comments

Fiction Speculative Sad

That’s the thing about this city…it was once home to flying humans.

The sun was a cracked yolk-shell, spilling crusty yellow and frosted blue across the skies. Plastic bags flit along with the dully quiet interstate, shed of anything except the squat fire extinguishers and sidewalks following its path.

Imani followed the road, cracking her knuckles to break the silence which often made her cry rivers under the protective shade. Sometimes, as she walked, she kneeled to lift a smooth stone from the street. They may have been aimed at houses once, decorated porches, painted all the colors of the rainbow. During the times when skyscrapers flaked off dried blue skin and draped it over the ancestors’ heads, when windows caught the cusps of birdsong, echoing for all to hear.

The city was now of broken glass and buried bones, useless stones, and towering skyscrapers, truly scraping the sky. Imani saw the sky bleed, each day. It hurt, like the broken she had become. If she screamed, no sound would escape her cracked lips. Tremors halted the cicadas from singing, and the night had abandoned a moon. She had no nightlight to guide the charred black cape of the sky. The skyscrapers’ bruise. Like the glued-together fragments of glass, she had become.

Imani was the sky, its black and blue, night and day bleeding mess. Sometimes she wanted to whisper… It’s okay, it’s okay. You don’t have to be the good girl anymore. The stitch and needle anymore. The tried and true sun anymore.

But the road had ended, leaving a wide expanse of rotted shrapnel and dusty remains of buildings blocking off the sides. When Imani looked down, she could see the road ended with a jagged crack, splitting sideways over the years. It hadn’t ended here, among the dirt-ridden shrapnel and slabs of stone. Somewhere out there, beyond termite-riddled fences and trashed sewers, there was a tried and tested world. If only she could grow splayed out wings splashed with the color—color she had long lost. Even then, she wouldn’t bring herself to cross the fields and cityscapes she was raised in.

✧─── ・ 。゚★: *.✦ .* :★. ───✧

The one thing the ancestors got right was history. Vaeda knew everything about it, the brooding mountains and scraggly dust bowls leading up to sandy beaches. Nobody knew where she came from, but nobody knew where anyone came from. It was what made them a community.

History is who they were. Bound to it, only mindless creatures not comprehensible as species, without a past. Lost, broken souls gathered in the remains of a dirt-sodden city.

Vaeda didn’t bother with appearances. Imani had watched her on her first day walking the streets from her stoop against the fire extinguisher, not bothering to conceal her bewilderment. She had carried a fancy bell, worn jangling earrings, and ratty scarves. Only a name to her soul. Vaeda. Vaeda. And stories. So many stories, carrying them under her wry smiles and chanting bell.

Somehow, she made paper hearts tattooed to skin seem like a real thing, believed in firefly-lit jars and candy-flavored teeth. Somehow, she made the towering buildings kneel in her wake—somehow, she broke and crumbled, but found a hand to knit the less-than-half-populated city back together. With stories, with past, with children whose names had been splattered against the cracked road.

Imani was late as she usually was, casually sliding between two kids and patting the dew-heavy grass tenderly. Just because her people were isolated didn’t mean the rumors didn’t spread. They could be about Vaeda’s blindness, her chanting bell, and ratty scarves, or the wrinkly skin younger kids pinched again and again, always smelling of daisies. Each story was in a different place, and sometimes, you wouldn’t know where until clusters of kids grouped around a certain area of the block.

The meadow’s wavy grasses danced in the slight breeze. Once, it had been home to barbed-wire fences, park benches, and a playset where you could sway to the breeze itself on a metal swing. Imani toyed with a locket strung around her wrist, wondering if Vaeda had chosen this spot on purpose, always beginning with the same line, each tale woven with—perhaps some truth.

“That’s the thing about this city. It was once home to flying humans. Our ancestors, the fallen angels.”

✧─── ・ 。゚★: *.✦ .* :★. ───✧

“The Earth was cool as it was young, and daylight bore new creatures rising for the sunlight. Humans—fresh as they were, smart as they were—-it was not their cleverness that lasted them through the slits and cracks of time we’ve evolved into. Underneath, deep entombed below the surface of our city, their wings still sparkle beneath their old, weeping bones.”

Vaeda paused, tapping a long fingernail to her stubby chin. For a second, Imani tried to see what she saw, being descended from human ancestors, wings belayed from their backs. The stiff rubber beneath the old swing…the ancient oaks she would scale, the dirt tasting her palms.

“The skies were theirs to claim, their even cuts through the sky, gliding like freedom. These creatures would not be silenced, but perhaps that was their problem, not being able to stay silent long enough. I’ll bet you kids will understand as much as to what happened.”

None of them responded. Some, Imani figured, had lost the will to speak, though Vaeda went on clanging her bells and tossing a stray strand of silver hair over her shoulder. She looked up at the sky when Vaeda did, both of them thinking the same thing: how the sky would bleed tonight.

“From angels, your ancestors went to the fallen graves, stripped of their freedom, stripped of their names. Forced into mines and cold labor, forcing to scrape the sky with more space. The ancestors always made the gods angry—but children, did your ancestors have any a choice but to be themselves?”

She knew. Imani knew how the ancestors felt, falling endlessly from their sky, blood, and feathers raining from the heavens. But did they have a choice to be themselves, thread and needle the cracked roads, wilted shrapnel, fogged-up rivets?

Vaeda smiled to her upturned palms as if imagining the wings unsheathing from them, erupting into water and flame. Imani remembered the jutted road, wondered how long it had been since she’d carried the pickaxe, cleared away the mountains of gravel in desperate attempts to find…

“Those wings could scale mountains, you know? Imagine the way their wings would lick the water’s edge when they wanted to swoop down…glossed over and refined. In a way, it makes me glad I’ve been descended from such creatures capable of flight—makes me think I can soar too. ”

The story was over nearly as soon as it had begun, as was the case with nearly all of Vaeda’s stories. Often, the kids would blankly watch her when she rose, teetering and tottering in that special way she did, ending as she always does. Ah, the position of the storyteller is a crude and brutal one, for fear of telling it wrong or leaving it without room for imagination keeps you up all night.

Imani felt that this story was different somehow, that it had been more personal. It made her want to hug Vaeda—give the old woman a big hug, both of them waiting for the wings that would carry them away.

✧─── ・ 。゚★: *.✦ .* :★. ───✧

For the first time in what must’ve been forever, Imani stepped out onto the grass at night, cloudy smog blocking her view of the moon, if there was a moon. She was afraid of screaming, afraid someone would listen, or that maybe nobody would listen except the wind.

And the stars. The stars were out tonight, the ones that swept up the ancestors and made their beds every nightfall. How it must feel, to fly among the mountains and stars, she would never know.

Imani felt the skies with her fingertips, wound the stars around her waist, finally letting the tears fall, crying along with the bleeding sky. She figured the sky would need a friend—-and maybe she did too, as they both buried their tears in each other’s shoulders, mourning for their lost wings.  

March 18, 2021 21:39

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40 comments

"You may take my points, but you can't take my spirit. I forgive you down-voter, whoever you may be. You taught me that points are just numbers. I have grown. You taught me that even when all my points are gone, I am still a writer, and it is my job to write. I'm leaving Reedsy for a couple of weeks not because of you--but because I want to fulfill my purpose as a writer elsewhere. I will be back." I love this! thanks for sharing your mind and speaking up for what's write :)

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16:04 Mar 21, 2021

Thanks, tiffany. They took almost all of my points. I was really mad about it in the beginning, but I realized that they're just numbers. People like you, kind people like you, will always be there.

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awww, yes, I will always be there <3 yeah, this point system is kinda rigged, it's like, I can't wait for a site where we can just write and not care about points or leader boards or anything. It's kinda sucking the joy out of writing, and I get that writing for an audience can be pressuring. I hope we can talk more some time :)

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18:00 Mar 22, 2021

Yeah, same.

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:))) write anything lately?

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18:33 Mar 22, 2021

Nah, not really for reedsy. Yes for the book I'm writing. I'm sort-of-leaving reedsy this week for 3-4 weeks, just to take a break. How about you?

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Cole Lane
01:07 Apr 18, 2021

You have so much work out here on Reedsy! Thank you for submitting to this community, even though something happened where you were down-voted a lot? I am not sure how that is possible (I'm kind of new) but I am trying to get those numbers back up! :) Your work is exceptional.

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12:48 Apr 18, 2021

Thank you so much! Your stories are also amazing! Well, downvoting is basically when some person on reedsy hits the carrot-shaped icon where it says "1 point" and hits the one facing down to make it -1 or 0 over and over again on different comments. I really appreciate your kindness, but don't waste your time trying to get the numbers back up. Yesterday I was at 750, and now I'm back at 666. It keeps on happening...so I don't really care about points anymore. Thanks again, Cole!

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Frances Reine
22:51 Mar 18, 2021

How stunning! My brain's too mundane to hold all this. What I love about sitting down to flit my eyes over your submissions is I can truly forget about my whole weird week, and just float along because it's going to be beautiful. "skyscrapers truly scraping the sky"--and who would've thought of that but you? It seems like fantasy to me: dreary but out-of-this-world a fair amount as well. Maybe it's the wings ;) (the fire extinguisher especially grounded everything for me at the beginning, haha.)

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00:31 Mar 20, 2021

Aw, thank you so much, Frances. Your comments always make me feel so sure of myself as a writer even though I always think my work isn't that readable :) Hopefully, when I return I'll get to read many of your amazing stories.❤️

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Frances Reine
22:23 Mar 20, 2021

Going to miss you... Best of luck with your personal projects!

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00:16 Mar 21, 2021

Aw, thanks! I'll miss you too :) Don't worry...this hiatus won't last long. (Since I'm not very committed, this will probably last 3-4 weeks at best)

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Metaxia Tzimouli
10:05 Apr 27, 2021

I am not really sure what this is about. I was absolutely lost in the imagery, but I felt the pain, the emotion, and the isolation? The story is dystopic methinks. I like how you used different point of views to show different aspects and feelings; a sense of community, fighting or remaining oir settling? in a land that once was prosperous. Good job. You really know how to use your imagination/fantasia.

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01:08 Apr 21, 2021

:O how did I not read this sooner~ this was ah ma z i n g :O the end was just- so ARGH I can't describe it~ GRATE 🧀🧀🧀 job!!! This is one of my favourites, it's written so well :) ~ Amethyst

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22:42 Mar 25, 2021

I thought it was really cool how you started your story! I loved it from start to finish :)

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21:19 Mar 25, 2021

I just love your writing. Your imagination is spectacular.

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13:47 Mar 25, 2021

luv ur bio

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16:29 Mar 25, 2021

thanks!

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Sierra Tkacik
00:51 Mar 25, 2021

This was so beautiful, how you showed such a mournful and melancholy tone while maintaining a little sense of wonder to it as well. It was so powerful to read about how they all cried over their lost wings, and the personification of the sky... Also, at the beginning, I found the egg-yolk line pretty funny, what with wings and birds, so kudos on the great pun!

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16:29 Mar 25, 2021

Thank you so much for the kind comment

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Chloe Hanna
16:36 Mar 23, 2021

WOW WOW WOW! this is amazing, I especially like the descriptions!

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Mou Sur
18:02 Mar 22, 2021

Hey how are you! This is such an awesome story!! So nicely written.Loved every bit of it.Enjoyed reading it.Stay happy..Cheers :)

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18:02 Mar 21, 2021

"The sun was a cracked yolk shell--spilling crusty yellow and frosted blue across the sky" is an AMAZING line. You have a real gift for description... And your title was very evocative too. I always struggle to think of good titles but this one was very captivating. Great job :)

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12:47 Mar 26, 2021

Thank you so much!

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Dalia Navarez
04:07 Mar 20, 2021

Imani completely stole my heart with her storytelling and interesting thought process. I hope she gets her wings back!

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18:00 Mar 22, 2021

:) Thanks

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Kendall Defoe
02:50 Mar 20, 2021

Sad and beautiful... Hope you come back soon!

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Awwwwwwwwwwww come bac sooooon

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00:30 Mar 20, 2021

I will. This is only a temporary hiatus to work on some of my more personal projects...I'll probably find myself returning a lot sooner than intended😝 I can't stay away from this amazing writing community for long :P

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Awwwwwwwww...... Stay safe <3

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Jace A. King👑
16:07 Mar 19, 2021

Hallo :) If you're free and wanna be in a fairyland reedsy cast story please fill out this form https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1xJryETZYRVfCvcCXhdQxQOU6EIqTTa77hf8KXABo_0w

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D. Owen
09:59 Mar 19, 2021

Imaginative and descriptive!

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00:32 Mar 20, 2021

Thank you so much!

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23:08 Mar 18, 2021

Oh wow, I love your descriptions. I mean, you go so in-depth with everything, especially that line about the sun near the beginning!

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00:30 Mar 20, 2021

Thank you so much Ethan! I'm glad you liked it!

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00:43 Mar 21, 2021

Wow that was sooo beautiful! I love the descriptions and how you tell the story from Imani's point of view. The suspense was nice too! I loved the plott! It was sooo good! Aw, I hope you come back soon!! This was a great story, I'll miss you! Keep writing!

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18:00 Mar 22, 2021

Thank you so much. Hopefully, I'll be back soon

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