Day 72

Lila could feel the wind whipping her hair around like tiny, mad snakes. Above her, Alastair was calling her name over and over again. He was reaching over the ledge, his hand with the scar splayed wide open, waiting for her to take it. Too bad she was too far away. The rough terrain, already featureless, blurred like a mucky stew. Lila knew that she was going to hit the ground. She’d hit the ground and break open. She wondered if her insides would show everything she kept hidden.

“Don’t let those bullies rile you up,” said her great grandfather from two years ago. “They know that you’re a strong and impenetrable little lady. That’s why they want to tear you down.”

“Great grandpop, I can’t help it. They’re so mean!” Lila had replied. “I hate them! I hate them so much!” And after much consideration added, “Darn them to heck!”

“Woah, dear girl. Don’t use language like that,” great grandfather admonished. Lila could now see his big brown eyes, always so clear and intelligent, staring down at her with a mixture of shock and admiration. “You have a bite in you, but you need to learn to hone it. Using harsh language will only drag you down to the bully’s level. But most of all, the bullies are human, too.”

She remembered being confused. Why would she care about the bully’s feelings if they didn’t care about hers? But she trusted her great grandfather , held up her chin, and faced each day with as much pride as she could muster. He was so proud of her. He bought her a pair of tennis shoes two sizes too big telling her that when she at last fit them, she would be the master of herself.

After great grandfather passed away, she tried to stay strong. But then they moved away from the town that held so many memories of great grandfather, away from the refuge of her friends, and away from the place she thought of as her only home.

Now, she was about to break apart. Lila didn’t want to leave her brother alone. He was the last person she really confided in. They had their secret waterfall. They listened to the soft humming of audiobook as they doodle pictures and made crafts. They remembered great grandfather together. Now, instead of Alastair leaving her, she was leaving him. She couldn’t bare the thought of doing this to him. She felt that resistance burning and crackling deep inside of the marrow of her bones.

No! She wouldn’t die. Not. Today!

Within milliseconds, she flipped around in the air, letting her feet point at the ground. The shoes her great grandfather jerked and tugged, wiggling around on her feet. They were still a little too big, but she always laced her laces tight. She was thankful for her tying habits because the shoes, which had once been a simple lavender with light pink accents, sprouted two pairs of enormous wings. The pure white wings shot out and began to flap immediately. Lila tried to steady herself and ended up doing a few mid air summersaults. She spread out her legs and arms, angling her body weight to keep balance. She just get the hang of it when the ground at last slammed up onto her feet. Her knees bent and she fell, splayed onto rocks and earth.

“Lila?” Gabbie gasped.

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