The Makings of Angel

Submitted into Contest #51 in response to: Write about someone who has a superpower.... view prompt

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I come from a town of 6 high towers which scour the skies and protect the honest to good people who live inside. They like to jump from the high rooms, near the tops, and soar down, down, down, like lovely butterflies dancing on a summer's breeze. Their wings are beautiful, clear and shimmering, but most importantly, light. The people that I come from, are born with wings like slivers of silk, but strong enough to carry a fae and her child.

Then, there are the exceptions like me. We, too, have our own set, but they are not the same. These are the wings we call, Mirae, because, like the looking glass, they are only meant to be admired and shatter just the same if one does not care for them properly. I can’t fly like the others do, so I run. If I run with the speed of foxes on their hunts back home, I can feel the bending air I rush past. But to fly, they say, is like the weightlessness in a swimming pool, only the water isn’t there so you can feel the air in a plane which others couldn’t.

I’d always wanted wings like that, so I finally got them the way I do everything: I stole them. Not that I could actually use them, but I’ve earned the bragging rights at the very least. Glasses doesn’t take from just anybody; we only take from the very best. So if we steal from you, take it as the compliment that it is.

“Angel, open the bag,” I do so immediately, loosening the strings of the velvet bag that rests in my gloved hands. I smile at the faint light that glows within and pour the contents onto my palms. The collar may look plain but if you turned it over you would notice the strange incredibly thin needles which are shielded by a thin protective membrane. Once the membrane is removed and the harness is secured on the chest plate and shoulder blades of any human, the needles would pierce through the skin and insert enough structure to lighten the mass of the bones and create a protein film that would feed into the growth of wings like that of my people.

“Preciosa,” Glasses is still the honest man who can’t cage a thought from leaving his lips, “They would make a whole world of fae,” he said softly; I smiled at that.

“And break the vows of the vestal sisters who sought to protect the secrets of our sacred tower,” he finished slowly.

I think I choked on my disbelief. My blood ran cold and my wings clinked together beneath my loose clothes.

“What?!” A hysterical laugh began to climb its way up my throat, I flew into a flustered rage, “I did all this to-- to- to- what?! Destroy the only thing that could possibly lead to a cure for my wings? That could give me a chance to fly like I’ve always dreamed of?”

Glasses reached for my hand. I snatched it away to run along the crisscross patterns of said wings. I could just barely feel the blood which ran through the veins set in crystal.

He said soothingly, “Angel, angel please. It’s okay to feel so distraught about this change in events however, there is no other choice we have but to protect the legacy of our people at all costs. I can NOT-” he stifled a small cough, “WILL not let the scientologists take what belongs to us alone!” his passionate outburst rang throughout the small empty room along with the great heaves of breath he struggled to inhale. An eerie silence descended on the room and I remembered exactly to whom I was talking to. He wasn’t a man to be trifled with and I wasn’t so keen on getting a few holes blasted into me. That’s the thing about Glasses, it’s too effortless to forget the real danger he poses when he’s always cracking jokes like a friend and taking care of us like a Pop.

“It is not easy,” I sucked in another calming breath to steady my shaking voice, “Not always easy to do the right thing,”

My fluttering wrath quieted to mimic the glassy surface of still waters.

“That’s right, Angel. So while the right thing is the hard thing to do, you must endure for the good of our people and our gift,” Glasses tried to comfort me with his words of assurance, but I knew better than the old man did.

His wings might’ve worn away with time, but he’s never had to live a flightless lifetime like mine.

Virtue is sparse and rare in a world that rewards the greed that chews away at the good. People are not given the same chance at life despite what others may want to believe so one must make the most of what they are given. Even children are reduced to pawns in this game of life, up in the tops we keep the young exceptions trapped to the only floor where they may serve the higher ones. Or they are lost to the lower level streets and serve the lower lords like I do. In the towers, where fae are blinded by their desire to be perceived as perfect, that they desperately hide at the injustices which sneak through the cracks of order. Like me, and a little like Glasses, we can’t always keep our hands clean to get what we want.

And what I want are those wings.

“Gente, gente! We got a lot to do here today, prepare the incinerator, if fire does not manage to burn this devilish mechanism, then we try the crusher, the broiler, the casket, the slicer, and- well, you guys get the idea,” he smirked as Jet and Chal rushed to prepare the kindlings.

I moved to check the gauges in the other room, and in one motion slipped the necklace into my pocket from within its pouch lying on the table. I quickly turned to exit the room and heard Glasses grunting at the boys to hurry them along while inspecting the incinerator. Adrenaline pulled me to leave quickly, I pulled a bar down over the door’s entrance for a headstart; the motions did not feel like they were coming from me but someone daring enough to shed Glass’s control.

Here’s the thing about running away with precious cargo, it’s nothing like in the movies where the spy looks hecka hot while happening to find the perfect tools or hiding spot before delivering the goods. Escaping with stolen goods is like running with your hands tied, sure, it’s not like you can’t keep going, but then why do I feel like at any moment I might just trip up and get caught. I’m not going to lie, it stung when I saw myself listed under the Wanted, I didn’t think you’d turn to them for help, Glasses. But then, I’ve never been wanted so I’ll take what I can get.

Today is the day I meet with Marciel about the collar, he wants it for 30 mil but I’m not going any lower than 1 billion and he knows it. I know the funds they have and I know what value I have. Maybe up til now you might’ve figured out the way I like to play the game, but when it comes to the money you better cash up or we got problems. The type of problems that get scumbags who waste my time kicked off a tower and ending with a nighttime nap with the fishies.

I’m dressed in a casual gray, tight flexible pants to run if things go north, light formal blouse for business, and loafers that are really more for a fast escape but are cutting it as formalwear. For the scary look I’ve selected a thick ribbon of red tied around my throat, just enough to be menacing but easy to take off should I choose to become less noticeable. I wait in a tidy office space on ground floor, the entrance to the small facility.

Marciel strides into the lobby with a steady pace and head held strong; he looks like he’s nearing his 40s, but I’d bet he's only in his late 20s. Guilt and harsh work can take off decades from a man’s life.

“Senora Giselle?” he addresses me from his stand near the entrance and I can’t help but grin a happy little grin. Marciel’s got another thing coming for him if he thinks I’m that type of business woman. He’s scared; he stands too close to the door for easy access to me, and his steps were too light for a man prepared for a tousle. Of the two, he’s the kind to pick flight over fight.

“Marciel, drop the formalities, I’m here for a quick ordeal so let’s make it quick,” the sooner I get my money, the less I have to worry about keeping the collar safe.

He frowns a little before sitting down at the coffee table across from me. I doubt he will recognize me as a Wanted since the picture was simply much too long ago and dark enough to be almost any girl off the streets. I’ve taken care not to let people take advantage of my face with a camera that can spill too many secrets told in a photo of a thousand words.

Neither of us move from the spot, I may have chosen the place, but I felt safest near the outdoors and I’m certain Marciel’s partners had not anticipated we would not continue farther into the building.

He clears his throat, “Do you have the collar?”

“I do.”

Absolute silence and if I were not so stressed out a giggle might’ve ensued. He truly expects me to pull it out now when I have not even seen the payment?

“Senora Giselle, I am not here for the collar,” he shifts and I quickly slip my knife in hand, “We have heard you are one of the... Exceptions,”

“In practically everything,” I grumbled and regretted putting myself at risk for this stumbling fool. I pull my knife and he stumbles over a syllable after a glance at my blade.

“The wings, senora, your wings are...” he searches my body for a glimmer of my glass catastrophe, and I hold myself back from slicing his throat right that moment in order to teach him a hard learned lesson, “perfection,” His eyes alight and I fear the greed in them that runs its course in all men.

But I am also frozen in wonder at what he has just said about my disablement, “Pardon?”

I am going to do it; I am not afraid. Wings or no wings, I will make whichever choice or sacrifice to soar the skies. I feel my place there unlike any other.

Marciel is unlike any streetrat I’ve ever encountered. He knows the dark and dirty corners hidden at the tops of the towers and he pulls the strings like Glasses does with his thugs. Even if I am one of those strings, it doesn’t matter if I can have what I’ve dreamed of.

My back sores are still bleeding, even though the cuts are clean and bandages are holding my flesh together. Regrets are beyond my conviction to get the wings I’ve always wanted, be it the price to let them take my wings. Marciel plays nice when he is about to get what he wants; I got the ‘best’ care and by that I mean the rich lunatic put me in the hands of his skilled spare parts collector.

“Why do you even want them? Any Exception in the towers would work,” I growled from under the straps that held my glass wings in place. It was getting a little difficult to talk, but I had made sure the anesthetic wasn’t enough to stop me from ripping the holdings.

“They don’t grow as old as you,” he sighed, “the wings never reach the right maturity,”

Anger and grief dripped into my puddle of desperation; I didn’t like to think of how ‘lucky’ I was compared to the youngers despite my harsh upbringing.

When my glass came off, I sensed a deep loss within me. They had been a large part of my life and stuck with me through thick and thin. That sense of loss however did not fully register with my physicality, my burden was lighter, but I did not actually feel cutting pain since the nerves nearest to the glass were weakest. Marciel must’ve been paying the man very well since he did not eye anything else on me and finished every laceration with expert precision.

I ran from the facility after a last glance at my past and before the parts collector changed his mind to take something else. I doubt that Marciel would’ve stopped his lackey if he tried, however, he feared my reputation in the criminal world. He may have been the leading crook at the top of the towers, but those almighty towers rested on the black market of lethal delinquents like me.

I am not afraid. My mind is set on my sole purpose after sacrifice and running for years and years in ragtag hoards, I have finally found my way here. I close my fists around the collar and wrap it around my throat. As the needles set into place, I close my eyes and a strange feeling of clarity in shrouded hazes enters my system. I did not realize the collar had automatic painkillers installed in its injections however, it manages to calm my nerves.

It’s in that clarity that I find memories I wanted to forget. Being an Exception is like accepting a death sentence. All my life, I’ve had to work 10x harder than any fae to keep on surviving. I am at the age where most Exceptions would have been worked to death already, whether it be serving the higher ones or homeless. I hate the fae who pretend their ignorance is any excuse to how we are treated. We are just as deserving of futures and lives, granted our wings don’t work but our minds do! And now that Marciel has his hands on my glass pair, they will be making a collar that actually works. Wings will be worthless when anyone can have them! 

“Are you certain you want it?” he eyed it nervously, “We tried it on others and it did not work the way we expected. If anything, they could come out worse than before... ” he shivered. I held in retches, testing on others would mean they had to have cut off other fae’s wings; the collar does not work on those with wings already. Only those from other realms would ever be able to use the next collar, but that will not be for a few decades. Marciel has assured me that though my wings will greatly speed up the creation of the new collar, there is much time before it will be safe to use.

But I don’t care anymore for what’s safe. 

When I wake up from my induced sleep, I feel the weight on my back has returned but slightly heavier than before. I reach back and spread my hand over a leathery flap, I inhale sharply. I rise to look in the mirror, and am surprised to see batlike wings the span of my entire body on both sides of me. My muscles are well connected to the control over these new wings and for the first time, I feel soreness at my shoulder blades, it is the strain of keeping these wings straight. The blood flows strong within veins that are barely perceptible under my skin, it is the complete opposite of the glass there before, like a dam broken and rivers of life flowing.

There is a new labor to breathing and I raise my gaze to the ceiling of my keeping to try to keep down the chaos of emotions. But the tears come anyway because I have real wings. They may not look like what one might expect but they are everything and more to me. I mourn my lost wings, I howl, but I cry out of exhaustion because I did it!

But I am the only one. I remember the clarity I had in the induced state of the collar which still rests on my chest. I am the only one of many exceptions who will never be given this chance for a gift of flight. Far away from this place and these towers which loom over anything that threatens its delusionally fictional haven. I will persevere, I will not waste my dark blessing.

I feel the need of those little ones which feel as delicate as the glass which is encased on their backs, and I refuse to ignore it.

My wings are stronger than any faes’ and my will is stronger.

July 25, 2020 02:22

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1 comment

Alex Casner
23:18 Jul 29, 2020

I loved the concept and the writing, but for me it was a little confusing. It was like I had opened a book to a random page in the middle and started reading there. I felt like a lot of information was bombarding me at once. This writing would be perfect for a novel, less so for a short story. Nontheless I still enjoyed how whimsical and surreal it was. -Assigned Critique


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