January 3rd, 2022/by the night birds

Today’s prompt: Write about the last time you left your comfort zone
Barn owls perched in darkness
Photo by Somya Dinkar on Pexels.com

My mother told me we were never meant to fly.

I proved her wrong by walking from the edge of a cliff and finding my wings mid plummet, before the river rapids at the bottom. This is how I end.

My mother told me we were never meant to fly, earth creatures, dense bones, the closest I’d get to wings was a bumpy seat in an aluminum tube, hundreds of miles above twinkling city lights.

But I could taste it in the wind: it was never my lack of self-preservation that set me sprinting after tornadoes, touching down on flat-plain highways and miles of cornstalks. It was never my sorrow that had me–arms splayed, jacket unzipped–alone in the driveway, leaning into the fierce autumn winds screeching over the eaves.

I could taste it in the wind.

I could decipher in the bird calls the hunger of a chick for her mother, the cardinal for her lover, the blue jay seeking storm cover.

I could taste in the wind the salt of coming storms, the electric char of thunder forms, I licked the tang of blood off imaginary feathers strapped to my forearms.

My heart pulsed both in my body–poor human skin–and in the bird wings I swore I could feel beating against the breeze.

But my mother told me we were never meant to fly. Earth creatures, dense bones, we were built as human dolls, designed to decorate the rubbery haze hung between brown bricks, and scuffed white tiles, and dirty beige carpets grooved under office chair wheels.

So I left her home, the electricity bills, the screeching eaves with no decipherable language. I chased the wind unto the sea, climbed winding roads beside gurgling streams.

It was not my sorrow or my lack of self-preservation that found me, worn sneakers on red stone, high above a river. The owl asked if my wings were ready, the whip-poor-will told me she believed.

I stepped above oblivion and believed my wings could fly.

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