Apr 13, 2013

Earning your wings - Friday Flash Fiction - all audiences

Hey guys,

Yes "another" Friday Flash Fiction.
It's not with the same prompt, as it originates on a different blog than usual. I found it a short while back, and decided to check this week's prompt. I felt good about it and gave it a go.

Here is the prompt:

Use the quote below to tell the story of how your primary character comes to the edge (a cliche). Note: Your character may/may not fly. However, he/she encourages others to start a new beginning – i.e. to “fly.” Spring offers new beginnings to grow and soar. Tell this story in no more than 1,500 words (no less than 800) with a balance of dialogue and imagery. Now let your story fly!

“Come to the edge, He said. They said: We are afraid. Come to the edge, He said. They came. He pushed them, And they flew . . .”
 — Guillaume Apollinaire -  French poet.

And here's the story.
Enjoy the read!

Earning your wings.

The winds were a lot stronger up here.
He never would have thought they might get this strong, even as high up as they were. But he was here now, and so were they, mere steps away from earning his wings. It was what he had worked towards for such a long time, but now, his stomach knotted up and he felt the nerves soar through his body, making his limbs tremble in fearful, yet excited, anticipation. He feared taking ‘the step’ as much as he was longing to take it. As much as he was looking forward to taking it. It was the last he would ever take and it was the first. The first of millions more. It was the contradiction that made him fearful. It wasn’t full blown fear though, he couldn’t describe it as such. It was more a waxing and waning anguish, flowing at the pace of his blood pulsating throughout his body.

He looked up at the sky, stark blue with an occasional fluff of white, the bright yellow fire ball sitting high above. He didn’t feel its warmth though. Not up here. Not with these winds. He felt no comfort at this time, even though the peaceful view usually brought some.
I’m not afraid’’ he told himself quietly, hoping to somehow calm his nerves and soothe his racing heart.
It had been a very long time since he had last felt like this.
Decades probably.
It was supposed to be healthy, but there was a dangerous undertone to the feeling.
Something ominous.
Something he couldn’t quite place.
Then again.
If he failed, he would not earn his wings.
That would be devastating.
All that hard work gone to waste.

“Okay, this is it.”
The voice startled him and he lowered his eyes from the skies to the man who had brought them here.
“Is everybody ready?”
They all acquiesced.
So did he.
He was ready.
“Okay, step right up.”
Why did he volunteer to go first?
“There is nothing to worry about.”

“I know.”

“Good. Here, let me anchor you.”
He watched closely as the man performed his actions quickly but securely, fastening a safety harness on him and connecting it to the thick cable overhead.
“Nothing can happen to you.”

“I know.”

“Everybody gather around. Stay behind the white line and you’ll be just fine.”

“But the winds.” someone said.

“Are not strong enough to lift you off your feet.”

They approached hesitantly, their eyes going back and forth between the men standing at the edge and the void beyond them.
They did not come as far as the white line, obviously distrusting their guide’s words.

“Are you ready?”

“Yes, I am.”

“They don’t look like they are. Maybe it was a mistake bringing you up here today.”

“No, it wasn’t. We’re ready.”
He turned, overlooked the gathered group of people he had come to know so well over the past – What had it been? Months? Years?
“Come to the edge.” he said.

“We are afraid.” they said, almost as one.

“Come to the edge.” he said again.
“Look. It’s easy.”

He had no idea where he suddenly found the courage, but he turned back to the edge and stepped forward, into the void.
He fell, as expected, but then the safety line snagged him from his vertical pattern. In the same instant, his motion went from vertical to horizontal and he felt a different kind of nervousness soar through him.
Would he succeed?
He could not fail.
Failure was not an option.
It never had been.
It never would be.

“I can do this.” he said while the safety line slid along the cable.
“I can do this.” he repeated, louder this time.
“I can do this!”
He felt the strain in his neck and shoulders.
I can do this.”
A sudden flash of pain.
“Nothing to worry about.” he screamed at the top of his lungs.
He had to if he wanted to hear the sound of his own voice over the roaring winds.
“You can do this.”
The pain disappeared as quickly as it had appeared.
He closed his eyes, picturing himself on his mind’s eye.
“You can do this.” he said slowly.

He was no longer screaming.
The winds were no longer roaring.
The safety line no longer held him.

He opened his eyes again. Looking down, he saw the world flying by him in a blur, unrecognizable at this speed. Looking up and to the side, his smile widened as much as his face would allow for.

YES!” he screamed, no longer out of necessity, but out of pure excitement.
I did it!

He tried to steer and felt his body respond.
He had not failed.
He had earned his wings.

With a huge smile on his face, he turned back to where the others stood waiting and watching.

“I told you it was easy.” he called from a distance, “Who’s next?”

The hesitation was slowly dissipating.
They needed more convincing.
He landed next to their guide, a small nod the only ‘reward’ for his achievement.

“You’re next.” he said, reaching for the one standing closest to him.
He quickly and securely anchored his fellow candidate, took a step to the side and nudged him gently.
“You can do this.”
With those words he gave another nudge, sending him over the edge into a vertical drop.
He didn’t remember screaming, but he guessed he must have until that line snagged on him.
“We can all do this.” he said, turning to the others, “This is what we have worked for. This-”
He deployed his wings.
“is what we all want.”

The booming voice made him turn, though not in fear or surprise.
It filled him with warmth.
“Not only have you earned your wings, you have also earned your title. Go and spread the word, my friend.”

“I will.”

He spread his wings and stepped off the edge, soaring on the strong winds as they carried him to the portal.
The gate swung open and he cleared it with a happy smile.

“Angels do exist.” he called to the lone man sitting outside.

“And you are one of them.” the old man replied quietly, a faint smile curling around his lips.
Another one who had come in, doubtful and in fear, and now flew back out on those same wings he had always belied.

Afterlife was good.

More entries can be found here
Also, be sure to check out even more entries linked on the different pages.

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